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Beyond Iron Age ‘towns’ : examining oppida as examples of low-density urbanism.

Moore, T. (2017) 'Beyond Iron Age ‘towns’ : examining oppida as examples of low-density urbanism.', Oxford journal of archaeology., 36 (3). pp. 287-305.


The question of whether Late Iron Age oppida in Europe were truly ‘urban’ has dominated debate over these sites since the nineteenth century. Oppida have been surprisingly absent from comparative urban studies, however, despite increasingly nuanced perspectives on the nature and diversity of the urban phenomenon. In particular, Roland Fletcher's implication that oppida might represent part of a broader alternative form of low-density urbanism has been largely overlooked, by Iron Age scholars and urbanism specialists alike. With the complex nature of many oppida now becoming increasingly apparent, I suggest it is a pertinent time to assess Fletcher's claim and examine whether oppida can be convincingly compared to low-density urbanism elsewhere in the world and, if so, what implications this might have for understanding Iron Age societies. This paper argues that oppida do indeed display aspects of low-density urbanism and that this is likely to be due to the negotiated nature of power in Iron Age societies.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Moore, T. (2017). Beyond Iron Age ‘towns’ Examining oppida as examples of low-density urbanism. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 36(3): 287-305 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:19 October 2016
Date deposited:30 November 2016
Date of first online publication:17 July 2017
Date first made open access:17 July 2019

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