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Arable agriculture and social organisation: a study of crops and farming systems in Bronze Age Ireland

McClatchie, M.; (2009) Arable agriculture and social organisation: a study of crops and farming systems in Bronze Age Ireland. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis will present the results of an investigation into arable crops and farming systems of Bronze Age Ireland. Earlier studies have suggested that barley - particularly the naked variety - was the predominant crop of this period, with wheat playing a very minor role in farming economies. These studies relied heavily upon evidence from plant impressions on ceramic vessels. The research presented here will explore the production and consumption of crops in Bronze Age Ireland through the examination of an alternative dataset – the evidence from charred plant macro-remains recovered from archaeological excavations. Investigations are focused upon evidence from the Middle and Late Bronze Age in Ireland, due to a relative dearth of Early Bronze Age material. The collation and analysis of mainly unpublished data from more twenty sites provide a strong contrast to the evidence from the seed impressions record. Clear differences can also be observed when comparing data from the Middle and Late Bronze Age periods. Investigation of the types of contexts in which these remains were recorded has revealed new insights into deposition processes and activities at this time. Analysis of the arable weeds accompanying the cereals has also enabled an exploration of cultivation, harvesting and crop-processing activities. Investigation of the scale of agricultural production suggests the mobilisation of communities for agricultural work, as well as the accumulation of agricultural surpluses. The record from Bronze Age Ireland does, however, indicate that a variety of agricultural strategies could have been deployed, and a progressive or 'evolutionary' trend towards agricultural intensification is unlikely to have occurred in all areas.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Arable agriculture and social organisation: a study of crops and farming systems in Bronze Age Ireland
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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