Labour and mobility in Iron Age rural landscapes: An archaeometric study of ceramics from El Castru in Vigaña (Asturias, Spain)

De Groot, B. (Speaker), David Gonzalez Alvarez (Contributor)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Asturias is a mountainous region of NW Spain where communities inhabited ‘castros’ or hillforts during the Iron Age. Societies in this region predominantly relied on a diversified agrarian economy combining agricultural and herding activities. These groups have recently been characterised as ‘deep-rural’ societies – broadly self-sufficient communities with domestically produced and monotonous material assemblages, resilient to the hierarchical social and political organisation models we can observe in other areas within NW Iberia (Gonzalez Ruibal 2012). However, an archaeometric study of Late Iron Age ceramics from the hillfort of El Castru in Vigaña (Asturias, Spain) has shown that ceramics used by the inhabitants of this site were probably transported across significant distances through the mountainous surroundings. This evidence may imply that pre-Roman communities were less isolated than previously assumed, which is all the more surprising considering that zooarchaeological, carpological and archaeometallurgical evidence collected at the site reveals a local and self-sufficient small community of highlanders.
This presentation will consider the mobility of Iron Age communities in the study area by tracing the circulation of raw materials for ceramic production. It will compare this to patterns of mobility deriving from tentative evidence for short-distance transhumance and agriculture, as well as interregional interactions more broadly. It will also consider shifts in labour economies brought about by the introduction of the fast potter’s wheel and workshop production during the Roman period, assessing the impact of technological change on the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of this region.
By addressing the complexity of components, relating to craft production, subsistence and mobility that characterise the rural economy of this region, this presentation contributes to revising monolithic views on the organisation of rural societies of Iron Age communities in NW Iberia.
Period24 Aug 202028 Aug 2020
Event titleEuropean Association of Archaeologists annual meeting: Networking!
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational