September 4, 2021

5.1 Archaeology of Later Prehistoric Europe: State Societies in Bronze Age Spain & Crete

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Dr.. Roberto Risch, Departament de Prehistòria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.



Vicente Lull, Cristina Rihuete-Herrada , Roberto Risch, Bárbara Bonora, Eva Celdrán-Beltrán, Maria Inés Fregeiro, Claudia Molero, Adrià Moreno, Camila Oliart, Carlos Velasco-Felipe , Lourdes Andúgar, Wolfgang Haak , Vanessa Villalba-Mouco & Rafael Micó. 2021. “Emblems and spaces of power during the Argaric Bronze Age at La Almoloya, Murcia”. Antiquity 2021 Vol. 95 (380): 329–348.

The recent discovery of an exceptionally rich grave at La Almoloya in south-eastern Spain illuminates the
political context of Early Bronze Age El Argar society. The quantity, variety and opulence of the grave goods
emphasise the technological, economic and social dimensions of this unique culture. The assemblage
includes politically and ideologically emblematic objects, among which a silver diadem stands out.
Of equally exceptional character is the building under which the grave was found—possibly one of
the first Bronze Age palaces identified in Western Europe. The architecture and artefacts from La Almoloya
provide new insight into emblematic individuals and the exercise of power in societies of marked
economic asymmetry.


Roberto Risch, Harald Meller, Selina Delgado-Raack, and Torsten Schunke. 2.21. “The Bornhöck Burial Mound and the Political Economy of an Únˇetice Ruler”, in S. Gimatzidis and R. Jung (eds.), The Critique of Archaeological Economy, Frontiers in Economic History,

Beyond the teleological meaning that the different state theories have attached to this historical category, most of them probably coincide in relating the appearance of the state to the existence of stratified or class societies, in which individuals and social groups can clearly be distinguished in terms of their asymmetric access to
wealth and power.2 These privileges are warranted and legitimised in space and time through different mechanisms and institutions. Legally, this requires the imposition of some form of permanent, usually hereditary, property rights and the establishment of territorial limits, within which these privileges are imposed. The dynastic rule is
another institution by which economic and political privileges are often fixed in time. Effectively, the enforcement of law and domination demands the existence of specific mechanisms of coercion and the concentration of means of violence in
the hands of a dominant class. Apart from the violent imposition of privileges and rights, states always develop their own mechanism of psychological coercion, for example through rituals and imagery of violence, in order to give rise to individual fear and obedience, which form the subjective fabric of domination and hegemony. In general, the ideological and ceremonial paraphernalia of the state are essential to its legitimation.


Prof. Jan Driessen, UC Louvain.



Jan Driessen. 2021. "Revisiting the Minoan palaces: ritual commensality at Sissi". Antiquity 2021 Vol. 95 (381): 686–704.

Scholars have long hypothesised that the central courts of the elaborate Minoan complexes of Crete (c. 1950–1450 BC) were used for ritualised, communal gatherings. New archaeological evidence from the court centre at the site of Sissi offers unique insights into the social practices, regional history and political organisation of this Bronze Age island civilisation. The remains of consumption rituals practised at Sissi’s central court, along with the absence of evidence for other specific functions, provide the basis for a more nuanced understanding of the role of different types of Minoan palace. Furthermore, deliberate incorporation of earlier ruins within the Sissi complex suggests that the social power of Minoan palaces drew, in part, on ancestral practices.



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