A Case Study of Heterarchy in Complex Societies: Early Medieval Ireland and its Archeological Implications



Early Europe provides considerable evidence of heterarchical organization. Early Medieval Ireland will be examined in this chapter. Both textual and archeological evidence of a chiefdom-type society will be evaluated, and the combination of the two will show that texts can provide details of sociopolitical organization that may be difficult or impossible to interpret from archeological evidence alone. The conclusions are couched in exclusively archeological terms, however, because the point of the exercise is to attempt archeological interpretations of heterarchy.