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A tale of three sites: The monumentalization of Celtic oppida and the politics of collective memory and identity

by Michael Dietler
World Archaeology ()

Abstract

Three fortified hilltop settlements (oppida) of the 'Celtic' Iron Age have been resurrected in recent history as symbolic focal points in the highly politicized construction of collective memory and iden- tity in modern France. This paper presents a brief comparative consideration of the processes of commemoration by which these three sites were ritually transformed into monuments that have served both to root constructed traditions of national collective imagination in place and to provide a sense of authenticity and continuity for them. In other words, it explores the ways in which attempts have been made to imbue certain places in the landscape with special symbolic value and turn them into historical 'memory factories' for the nation. It also examines the role of archaeology in this process of cultural production.

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