Network centrality in a decentralized network: The case of the Central Alpine area in the Middle Bronze and Early Iron Ages

Brunner, Mirco; Ballmer, Ariane (26 August 2020). Network centrality in a decentralized network: The case of the Central Alpine area in the Middle Bronze and Early Iron Ages (Unpublished). In: Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA). Online. 24.–30.08.2020.

The central Alpine area (cantons of St Gallen, Grisons and Ticino/Switzerland, Tyrol/Austria, South Tyrol and Trentino/Italy) has proven to have served as a transalpine traffic route since prehistoric times, with a significant increase from the MBA on. The finds and even people point to an increasingly structured and established network of contacts and exchange favored by the topographical bottleneck situation. Meanwhile, the degree of organization behind the mobility of people, objects and ideas is unknown, yet, an adequate infrastructure and knowledge must be expected.
Interestingly enough, within this active exchange network, the LBA and EIA settlement topography does display a strikingly decentralized, barely hierarchical quality, lacking of so-called ‘central places’, unlike for instance the adjacent areas north and south of the Alps. Indeed, in the Alps, an increased organization of space is occurring at the transition from the LBA to the IEA, especially expressed in the emergence of sanctuaries and a significant interaction network density. However, ‘central places’ featuring prominent terrain situations, impressive defensive fortifications, luxury products, imported goods from the Mediterranean, workshops and active crafting activity, as well as accompanying rich graves are suspiciously absent in the area of interest. This puts a question mark behind the assumed presence of ruling settlements, ‘elites’ or other territory controlling instances, and their degree of power and influence as well as their identity.
This paper discusses the particular case of the Central Alps as an economic space and settlement landscape in regards to its role as long distance exchange channel within a wider contact network. Multilevel approaches are taken into consideration to question the dimensions of ‘centrality’, or ‘decentrality’ in this very specific topography.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Brunner, Mirco, Ballmer, Ariane Thu


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)




Ariane Thu Ballmer

Date Deposited:

08 Sep 2020 10:42

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:40


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