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Anthropology 2229F/G Lecture Notes - Koster Site, Ascribed Status, Grave Goods

Course Code
ANTH 2229F/G
Christopher Ellis

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Lecture 30 Part 1 Burials
Archaeologists don’t just dig up graves!
Certain things that we can find out through burials that aren’t present
anywhere else
o Social aspects: e.g. sexual division of labour
1. Grave Locus/Location
o Where are the graves located and what is there distribution?
o Can give a number of clues of the status of individuals
o Three kinds of burials:
True cemeteries
Not amongst the debris
Spatial areas for the deceased and carrying out the
appropriate rituals
Special area dedicated to burial and burial rituals
Burial plots/grounds
Multiple individuals but not true cemeteries
Areas not set aside specifically for burying the deceased
Often not marked, just buried within the occupation
Individual burials
Usually just one or two individuals, not recognized as a
burial area
o Tie into social aspects in many ways
Associated with tribes ranked societies, not in band
Result of higher population densities, more restrictions on
movement and much more territorial
Cemeteries are a symbolic expression
Even expression of greater territoriality burial of
ancestors (people from whom you gained your status,
Very powerful expression of territorial control
Marked with distinctive markers, mounds, etc.
People not necessarily buried in the ground, could be on
scaffolds, etc.
Might not appear in the archaeological record
Depends on redundancy of land use, how often the people
come back
E.g. entrenched mobility
Can get at:
What makes you a person in that society
o Not everyone ends up in the cemeteries, could be
because of status or what it means to be a
member of that society (“personhood”)
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