Anthropology 1020E Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Lewis Binford, Office Of Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy, Social Relation

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CHAPTER 5 – HOW EERE SOCIETIES ORGANIZED? SOCIAL
ARCHAEOLOGY
-must first address the size or scale of the society
-our interest is to go beyond that local area to understand how that sites articulates with others
-questions of dominance? Was that site politically independent or a subordinate one?
-next question about internal organization? Equality/professionals/systems
-bottom-up perspective: looking first at the individual and at the way the identity of the individual in
the society is defined
establishing the nature and scale of the society
-what was the scale of the largest social unit? “polity”
-what kind of society was it in a very broad sense?
-polity: a politically independent social unit, which may comprise of smaller units; the state as a
whole is the polity
-the scale and nature of individual sites and relationships between them, through the analysis of
settlement pattern; also use of written records, oral tradition and ethno archaeology
>Classification of Societies
-Elman Service developed 4-fold classification of societies that many archaeologists have found
useful
1. Mobile Hunter-Gatherer Groups (Bands): fewer than 100 people who move seasonally to
exploit food resources. Today: Hadza of Tanzania, San of southern Africa; during the Paleolithic
period (before 12,000 years ago) most sites seem to confirm categories of camp, kill or work
site
2. Segmentary Societies (Tribes): rarely more than a few thousand, cultivated plants and
domesticated animals; generally multi-community
3. Chiefdoms: operate on the principle of ranking; often local specialization in craft; usually 5000-
20,000 people; main feature is the existence of a permanent ritual and ceremonial center that
acts as central focus of entire polity
4. Early States: many similar features to chiefdoms except the ruler has explicit authority to make
laws and enforce them
>The Survey
-interested in locating the major centers and their smaller centers
>Settlement patterning
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-regional center, local center, nucleated village, dispersed village, hamlet
-first need to identify the social and political territories to establish the political organization of the
landscape
-Central Place Theory: Walter Christaller to explain the spacing and functions of cities and towns in
modern-day S Germany; idea that city in the center supplies certain goods and services to its
surrounding areas
-Site Hierarchy: histograms allow comparisons to be made between site hierarchies of different
regions in different periods; the more hierarchical the settlement pattern the more hierarchical the
society
-Thiesson Polygons: simple geometric shapes that divided an area in separate territories; should
only be used on sites of the same rank
-XTENT Modeling: the aim of assigning territories to centers according to their scale; the size of
each center is assumed to be directly proportional to its area of influence
Further Sources of Information for Social Organization
-argument of Lewis Binford – Middle Range Theory: if we are to bridge the gap between the
archaeological remains and the societies those remains represent we need to develop a systematic
body; but problems with categorizing between low, medium, high
>Written Records: great civilizations in Mesoamerica, China, Egypt and the Near East; prime goal
is to find the appropriate text; 1970s find in Syria of 5000 clay tablets written in an early dialect of
Babylonian discovered
Coinage also important written source, their find-spots give clues to trade and sole ruler/city-state
Decoding of languages and symbols significant
Mesopotamia:
Recording info for future use: administrative purposes, codification of law, formulation of a sacred
tradition, annals, scholarly purposes
Communicating current info: letters, royal edicts, public announcements, texts for training scribes
Communicating with the gods: sacred texts, amulets
Most impressive example’s of law code is of Hammurabi of Babylon 1750 BC, laws covered every
aspect of life
The risk of historical records is that they can impose their own perspective
>Oral Tradition and Ethno histories
-poems or hymns or sayings handed down; hymns of Rigveda, earliest Indian religious text; epics
of the Trojan War written down by Homer 8th C BC
>Ethnoarchaeology
-provides the study of both the present-day use and significance of artifacts, buildings and
structures within the living societies in question and the way these material things become
incorporated into the archaeological record – an indirect approach to the understanding of any
past society
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