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Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland by Cormac McSparron. DOI: 10.32028/9781789696318. Paperback; 205x290mm; 176 pages; 76 figures, 27 tables. 630 2020 Queen's University Belfast Irish Archaeological Monograph Series 1. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781789696318. £35.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781789696325. £16.00 (Exc. VAT) Institutional Price £35.00 (Exc. UK VAT) Book contents pageBuy Now

Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland describes and analyses the increasing complexity of later Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age burial in Ireland, using burial complexity as a proxy for increasing social complexity, and as a tool for examining social structure. The book commences with a discussion of theoretical approaches to the study of burials in both anthropology and archaeology and continues with a summary of the archaeological and environmental background to the Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Then a set of criteria for identifying different types of social organisation is proposed, before an in-depth examination of the radiocarbon chronology of Irish Single Burials, which leads to a multifaceted statistical analysis of the Single Burial Tradition burial utilising descriptive and multivariate statistical approaches. A chronological model of the Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age is then presented which provides the basis for a discussion of increasing burial and social complexity in Ireland over this period, proposing an evolution from an egalitarian society in the later Chalcolithic Period through to a prestige goods chiefdom emerging around 1900 BC. It is suggested that the decline of copper production at Ross Island, Co. Cork after 2000 BC may have led to a ‘copper crisis’ which would have been a profoundly disrupting event, destroying the influence of copper miners and shifting power to copper workers, and those who controlled them. This would have provided a stimulus towards the centralisation of power and the emergence of a ranked social hierarchy. The effects of this ‘copper crisis’ would have been felt in Britain also, where much Ross Island copper was consumed and may have led to similar developments, with the emergence of the Wessex Culture a similar response in Britain to the same stimulus.

Online Appendices: DOI: 10.32028/9781789696318-appendices

About the Author
Cormac McSparron studied Archaeology and Modern History at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating with a BA in 1989. He was awarded an MPhil in 2008 and a PhD in 2018. Since 2002, he has worked at the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s and has directed and published a large number of important excavations in Northern Ireland.

The Queen’s University Belfast Irish Archaeological Monograph series
The Queen’s University Belfast Irish Archaeological Monograph series is designed as a publication venue for excavation reports, proceedings volumes and postgraduate theses relating to all aspects of Irish archaeology from the first settlers of the Mesolithic through to the twentieth century. The volumes encompass a range of approaches from fieldwork through to specialist artefact studies, and the application of scientific techniques to the study of the past. Submissions are welcome that showcase the diversity of archaeological research being undertaken across the island and among the Irish diaspora.

Reviews:
'This book is a rich source of data, with every possible aspect of burials being analysed, supported by extensive distribution maps, tables, and graphs. This means that it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of prehistoric Ireland and will be essential reading for anyone studying that period, but it is not a book for the casual reader.'Dr Duncan Berryman (2021): Ulster Archaeological Society Newsletter
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