Internal conflict in Iron Age Europe: Methodological challenges and possible scenarios

Manuel Fernández-götz, Bettina Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the nuanced and complex nature of conflict in pre-literate societies like those documented in the West-Central European Iron Age before the arrival of the Romans has been acknowledged for some time, distinguishing between different types of violent interaction almost exclusively on the basis of material remains has been a challenge. The motivations and conditions for external vs. internal conflict have been even more difficult to identify but there is increasing evidence to suggest that bottom-up or factional conflict as well as small-scale raiding between archaeologically indistinguishable groups was at least as important as large-scale pitched battles of the kind documented by later Roman authors. This article reviews the current state of research on conflict in Iron Age West-Central Europe on the basis of several case studies that illustrate the importance of multi-scalar analyses of violent interaction in prehistory and the need to develop suitably contextual approaches for such studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-672
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020


  • conflict
  • warfare
  • Iron Age
  • 'princely seats'
  • Gaul


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