Beyond Typology: Late Iron Age and Early Roman Brooches in Northern France
thesisposted on 16.01.2013, 11:38 by Melissa Doune Lawson Edgar
The goal of this thesis was to go beyond typology and consider the form, material, size and context of brooches in order to determine their meanings and functions to the Late Iron Age/early post-Conquest peoples of northern France. Apart from assembling a database of these ubiquitous objects, the objectives were: first, to standardize typological language and description in order to consider material and size; second, to ask broader questions about contexted finds from sanctuaries, funerary, rural sites and oppida. The evidence examined demonstrates that brooches were seldom stand-alone finds, as one would expect of lost or casually discarded objects. Rather, their deposition with other objects demonstrates their integration into ritualized practices that were more complex and varied than previously assumed. Moreover, the increase of ornamental types during La Tène D2 marks a distinct change from the homogeneity of earlier types; perhaps relating to the impact of increased competition, or need to promote co-operation, between the different family, household groups and social classes at that were increasingly intermingled at oppida, as well as sanctuaries. The transition from iron to copper alloy during this period matches the amplified interest in ornamental types, aided by the malleability of the material. However, this shift also parallels certain changes in iron production in the study area, echoing possible increased restriction of iron production during La Tène D2b/GR1. Beyond typology, brooches are a useful means of tracking changes in Late Iron Age social and ritual practice, as well as responses to conquest and increasing contact with the Roman world. By considering the chronological and contextual relationships of brooches this thesis examines how Late Iron Age and Early Roman societies in northern France reproduced themselves through material culture.