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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeologists once viewed super-individual identity as primordial and tied to territorial boundaries, useful for describing an orderly past and creating national or ethnic genealogies. Current research ties identities not to regions, but to groups: complex cultural constructions, expressed in varied yet simultaneous manifestations of bonds with family, lineage, clan, or polity, each with multiple shifting markers. These can involve kinship, status, gender, age, occupation, shared experience, and social memory, in turn impacted by wider sociopolitical, religious, and economic concerns. Between Iron Age groups, cooperation, détente, and conflict were equally likely; trade, travel, and familiarity resulted in material and ideological co-mingling, while still preserving difference, and involved symbolic and practical novelty, as well as continuity with the past. Once, such complexities caused archaeologists to label identity research impossible or unnecessary, but its exclusion often leads to misinterpretation. Fortunately, thoughtful considerations of method, materiality, and scale have resulted in productive new approaches.

Keywords: identity, ethnicity, culture, group, interpretation

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