Yayoi vs Iron Age: a comparison of increasingly complex settlement structures and material cultures during later prehistory in Japan and Britain

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


By late prehistory both Japan and Britain had become complex in terms of their settlement structures and the range of material culture being routinely deposited in some locations. Often in both situations there has been an assumption that the monumentality and the defended nature of some settlements indicates increasing inequality and, in particular, concentration of power and resources in the hands of an elite. By the time that Chinese and Roman writers examined both places there is a clear notion that kingship was to some extent institutionalised. By that time in Japan the construction of some of the largest burial mounds in the world were underway. How do we schematise and write histories about these developments without falling into stale processualism?
We will examine some of the evidence and touch on possible analogies for these societies that do not necessarily always imply rampant inequality. For instance, how do these prehistoric situations in Japan and Britain compare with what we know of Coastal Salish society on the North West Coast of North America during the first millennium CE where inequality seems to have been actively resisted? We will also suggest that the idea of inequality, as examined archaeologically, should be subject to further theoretical work in the light of historically better understood examples.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventTheoretical Archaeology Group Conference - UCL, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Dec 201918 Dec 2019


ConferenceTheoretical Archaeology Group Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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