Diverging Paths. Settlement Strategies and Conflict during the Early Bronze Age in the Southeastern Quadrant of Iberia

Adrià Moreno Gil, Marcello Peres, Roberto Risch

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1 Citation (Scopus)


During the Early Bronze Age (EBA), a relatively small number of European societies developed into highly centralised and hierarchical political entities. In contrast to the intensive research focused on these groups, little attention has been paid to their relationship with neighbouring populations, which had a much more egalitarian structure. In the southeast quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula, over a century of research on the EBA (ca. 2200 –1550 BC) communities has failed to identify distinctive traits leading to the definition of archaeological entities beyond the El Argar group, which according to many authors reached the form of an early state organisation around 1750 BC. This study aims to go beyond previous culturalist approaches and to focus on how communities with very different social organisations interacted in this macro-region as well as in a border region between El Argar and La Mancha. To that effect, we analyse primarily settlement size as an expression of the demographic and economic strength of a community, and ‘enrockment’ (enrocamiento), a concept that defines the degree of protection and spatial distancing of a settlement from its surrounding land and neighbouring communities. This large-scale comparative approach reveals the distinctiveness of highly dispersed and well-protected communities settling in the belt immediately north of El Argar and shows how this cost-intensive strategy changes with increasing distance from El Argar, when flat land and often larger settlements become dominant. The combination of settlement patterns and economic organisation also highlights the marked differences between El Argar and all the other communities living in the Iberian Peninsula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-126
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Mediterranean Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2023


  • Big Data
  • Early Bronze Age Iberia
  • settlement archaeology
  • spatial analysis


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