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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.

Series Editors: Eileen Murphy, Colm Donnelly, Sarah Gormley and Cormac McSparron (Queen's University Belfast)

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PRE-ORDER: Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland by Cormac McSparron. Paperback; 205x290mm; 220pp; 75 figures, 26 tables. 630 2020 Queen's University Belfast Irish Archaeological Monograph Series 1. ISBN 9781789696318. Buy Now

This book is forthcoming in Spring/Summer 2020. Click here to download the pre-order form and save 20%

The Single Burial Tradition is the name given to a set of burial practices found in Ireland from the later Chalcolithic Period through the Early Bronze Age. The tradition commenced in the decades after 2200 BC and continued until about 1600 BC. During this time there was a significant evolution in burial practice. The earliest burials of this tradition were single inhumation burials in a cist, apparently always accompanied by a decorated funerary bowl or vase. In time the practice of burial in a pit was added to the tradition, and cremation began to supersede inhumation. Additional varieties of accompanying funerary vessel were now found in many, but not in all, burials. From about 2000 BC onwards cremation burials inserted into an inverted urn became increasingly common. The number and sophistication of grave goods, in addition to pottery, accompanying the burials gradually increased through the era.

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.

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.

Table of Contents (provisional)
Foreword and acknowledgements ;
Chapter 1: Introduction ;
Chapter 2: Theoretical Approaches to the study of Death, Funerary Rituals and Social Structure in Archaeology and Anthropology ;
Chapter 3: Ireland in the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age ;
Chapter 4: Methodology ;
Chapter 5: Radiocarbon Dating the Single Burial Tradition ;
Chapter 6: Analysis ;
Chapter 7: Analysing Complexity in the Iris
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