Unmasked equalities: An examination of mortuary practices and social complexity in the Levantine Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithic

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/282815
Title:
Unmasked equalities: An examination of mortuary practices and social complexity in the Levantine Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithic
Author:
Grindell, Beth, 1948-
Issue Date:
1998
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This study presents the results of an analysis of mortuary practices as reflected in 637 burials from 19 Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithic sites in the southern Levant. The analysis focuses on selected dependent variables such as primary or secondary state, position, orientation, location, skull presence or absence, and grave goods presence or absence. It analyzes their frequency against such independent variables as age and sex of the deceased, period, and site. The analysis reveals that Natufian burial practices differed fundamentally from Prepottery Neolithic practices in that they reflect a much lower level of ritual involvement in disposing of the dead than is seen in the Pre-pottery Neolithic. The unstandardized burial practices and seemingly expedient nature of Natufian burials are found to be consistent with, but not exactly parallel to, the types of practices found in Woodburn's (1982a) "immediate return" societies and Douglas' (1970) "weak grid and group" societies. Increased standardization of burial practices in the Pre-pottery Neolithic, and greatly increased emphasis on skull removal and reburial, indicates a greater emphasis on ritual through which the body was a symbol of society. In the Middle and Late PPNB, mortuary practices emphasized an increasingly "group" oriented society with well defined social boundaries with respect to outside groups. Internal differentiation, however, was slight: some difference based on age is present but differentiation based on sex is not reflected in burial practices. Skull removal practices accelerated through the PPNA and Middle PPNB. Such practices represent ancestor cults that may have provided mechanisms of social negotiation over control of critical but restricted resources in an otherwise egalitarian society. With the advent of the PPNC, the ancestor cult symbolized by the skulls disappeared. This undoubtedly reflects the disappearance of the PPNB agricultural and herding way of life and the advent of a more pastorally based economy. In the face of new economic opportunities presented by such a shift, ancestors were less necessary in attempts to control local resources.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Anthropology, Archaeology.; Anthropology, Cultural.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Anthropology
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Kramer, Carol

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleUnmasked equalities: An examination of mortuary practices and social complexity in the Levantine Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithicen_US
dc.creatorGrindell, Beth, 1948-en_US
dc.contributor.authorGrindell, Beth, 1948-en_US
dc.date.issued1998en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis study presents the results of an analysis of mortuary practices as reflected in 637 burials from 19 Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithic sites in the southern Levant. The analysis focuses on selected dependent variables such as primary or secondary state, position, orientation, location, skull presence or absence, and grave goods presence or absence. It analyzes their frequency against such independent variables as age and sex of the deceased, period, and site. The analysis reveals that Natufian burial practices differed fundamentally from Prepottery Neolithic practices in that they reflect a much lower level of ritual involvement in disposing of the dead than is seen in the Pre-pottery Neolithic. The unstandardized burial practices and seemingly expedient nature of Natufian burials are found to be consistent with, but not exactly parallel to, the types of practices found in Woodburn's (1982a) "immediate return" societies and Douglas' (1970) "weak grid and group" societies. Increased standardization of burial practices in the Pre-pottery Neolithic, and greatly increased emphasis on skull removal and reburial, indicates a greater emphasis on ritual through which the body was a symbol of society. In the Middle and Late PPNB, mortuary practices emphasized an increasingly "group" oriented society with well defined social boundaries with respect to outside groups. Internal differentiation, however, was slight: some difference based on age is present but differentiation based on sex is not reflected in burial practices. Skull removal practices accelerated through the PPNA and Middle PPNB. Such practices represent ancestor cults that may have provided mechanisms of social negotiation over control of critical but restricted resources in an otherwise egalitarian society. With the advent of the PPNC, the ancestor cult symbolized by the skulls disappeared. This undoubtedly reflects the disappearance of the PPNB agricultural and herding way of life and the advent of a more pastorally based economy. In the face of new economic opportunities presented by such a shift, ancestors were less necessary in attempts to control local resources.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectAnthropology, Archaeology.en_US
dc.subjectAnthropology, Cultural.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorKramer, Carolen_US
dc.identifier.proquest9912118en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b39123637en_US
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