The Human Image in the Iron Age Iconography of Gaul

  • Simon Roper

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis studies the use and development of anthropomorphic iconography in Iron Age Gaul, up to the beginning of the Roman period. The principal focus is on freestanding human imagery. Art, and in particular religious art, is for many societies a critical feature in the definition of cultural identity. It is the contention of this study, therefore, that a better understanding of the changes in the iconography of this period will furnish us with a better comprehension of changes within Iron Age societies themselves. In particular, it is considered whether the anthropomorphic representation of gods is essentially a post-conquest phenomenon, or whether post-conquest religious art built upon earlier, Iron Age traditions.

    In order to assess these aspects three case study areas (Armorica, Central Gaul and South-West Gaul) were selected on the basis of concentrations of images in these areas. In each of these areas the depiction of anthropomorphic and associated imagery on other media, such as metalwork, is assessed in order to identify any regional trends. In addition free-standing human imagery of the same period from regions outside Gaul is considered in order to identify any wider trends. The free-standing human images of Gaul are then assessed in relation to each other and this data.

    As a result of this assessment two principal groups were identified. The first is an Early group, produced near the beginning of the period, quite naturalistic in
    appearance and frequently associated with burial sites. The second much larger Torso group, dates to the late Iron Age with the images depicting a simplified human form. Both groups are considered in relation to the social changes taking place at the time of their production and use.
    Date of Award2001
    Original languageEnglish


    • Iron age
    • Prehistoric Man
    • Iconography

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