Type of Document Thesis Author Mahoney, Maureen Patrice Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-04132008-205037 Title Political Complexity in Denmark during the Roman Iron Age: A Spatial Analysis of Settlement Patterns, Roman Imports, Grave Distribution, and Soil Types Degree Master of Arts Department Anthropology, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title William Parkinson Committee Chair Glen Doran Committee Member Lynne Schepartz Committee Member Keywords
- Settlement patterns
- Iron Age
- Political Complexity
Date of Defense 2008-02-29 Availability unrestricted AbstractStudying settlements can lead to an understanding of a community’s political, economic, and ideological sectors. While, many settlement studies exclusively examine either environmental or cultural attributes, by utilizing both variables, it is possible to understand settlement placement and daily interactions.
The Free Germans in Denmark during the Iron Age (500 BC- AD 600) inhabited two types of settlements: a stationary mound village and a relocating settlement. The existence of mounds in some villages in northern Jutland indicates that buildings remained in the same position for centuries. However, the majority of settlements in Denmark relocated to a new area every 20-50 years. The existence of two distinct types of villages resulted from a variety of cultural and environmental factors. In order to analyze previous hypotheses, I used ArcGIS to produce a variety of raster and vector layers that enabled me to demonstrate environmental, political, and economic differences between settlement types. The spatial analyses included overlaying a raster layer of the location of soils with vector maps illustrating the distribution of imports, weapon graves, settlements, and deposits that had a higher number of artifact types and may be from elite men and women. Since the same cultural goods and soil were present at both types of communities, the differences in settlement patterns was not due to the mound villages lacking certain items or using better soil. Based on the hypotheses that I could analyze, the most plausible explanation is that the mound villages formed because of the different materials that the Free Germans used during the construction of the houses.
Around 200 BC political differentiation grew in the Free German society, and during the same period, they encountered the Romans for the first time. These parallel occurrences led me to question whether the growing political differentiation resulted from independent developments, or whether trade with the Romans was the basis for the emerging elite class. The present study addresses the question of elite emergence in Denmark by examining the two types of settlements and their different levels of political complexity. While the Free Germans adopted Roman goods and some Roman traits through the importation of items and ideas, the acceptance of the goods and ideas did not specifically lead to the new elite class.
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