Ireland, an island of rare natural beauty, has a rich, well-preserved archaeological heritage. The waterlogged conditions
of the country’s peat bogs and some of its early towns, most notably Dublin, preserve the most delicate of organic remains
(Waddell 1998). The historical nondestructive accidents of the prevalence of pastoral farming, and the relative absence of
an industrial revolution, ... [Show full abstract] furthermore, have left Ireland with a unique surviving archaeological heritage that includes extensive
stretches of prehistoric landscape and ancient estuarine remains.
My aims of this chapter are threefold. First, my chapter shows how the political history of Ireland, which suffered from a
series of conquests, fostered a sociopolitical milieu of Irish archaeology with an emphasis on past glories of indigenous
cultures. In this context, prehistoric archaeology, particularly the study of the ancient Celtic culture, was highly valued,
while medieval historical archaeology, including the study of the Viking Age and Anglo-Norman invasions, was nonexistent until
the 1960s. Second, using the excavation results of early medieval Dublin as a case study, my chapter suggests that, despite
its late start, medieval archaeology is critical in understanding the Irish past. This case study also demonstrates that,
by examining some of the key issues in contemporary archaeology, including identity and material culture, ethnicity, and culture
contact, Irish medieval archaeology can contribute significantly to world archaeology. Finally, the epilogue of my chapter
touches upon the rapidly changing social, political, and economic contexts of contemporary Irish archaeology in relation to
media coverage, museum and popular exhibitions, tourism, and the waves of new immigrants.