Equality, Inequality, and the Problem of “Elites” in Late Iron Age Eastern Languedoc (Mediterranean France), ca. 400-125 BC

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This article investigates the ways discernible in the material record by which individuals obtained influence and power in late Iron Age (ca. 425–125 BC) Eastern Languedoc in Mediterranean France. Specifically, the article examines the extent to which the control over agricultural production, the control over the circulation of prestige goods, and a monopoly on the use of violence may have been used by individuals to influence and direct group activity. Although archaeologists have often portrayed Iron Age Mediterranean France, as well as Iron Age Europe more generally, as being dominated by a class of warrior aristocrats, an examination of the material evidence in regard to these three aspects of political power suggests that in fact, late Iron Age society in Eastern Languedoc was fairly egalitarian, with political power diffused and open to a large number of competing adults. A real socio-economic hierarchy based upon classes only emerged under the influence of the Roman colonial state in the first century BC. Far from offering any analytical precision, the overly broad term “elite” in this way actually obscures important changes in political strategies occurring under Roman colonialism.


Original version available from the publisher at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278416515000914



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