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Alternatives to urbanism? Reconsidering oppida and the urban question in Late Iron Age Europe

Moore, T.

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The mega-sites of Late Iron Age Europe (traditionally known as ‘oppida’) provide an important dataset for exploring how complex social systems can articulate power in novel ways. The question of whether these can be described as ‘urban’ has overshadowed a deeper understanding of the development and role of such sites with many studies examining this issue almost wholly against peculiarly classical concepts of urbanism, isolating Iron Age studies from wider debate. Rather than seek to redefine our definition of ‘towns’, this paper explores how and why oppida diverge from traditional concepts of urbanism arguing that the form of oppida reflects their focus on particular aspects: assembly, theatricality, and the household, which reflect the nature of Late Iron Age societies. It will be suggested that oppida are comparable to a range of mega-sites and low-density settlements recognised throughout the world that represent alternative solutions to the social complications urbanism seeks to address.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2017
Journal Journal of World Prehistory
Print ISSN 0892-7537
Electronic ISSN 1573-7802
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 281-300
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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