Archaeology and society

Notes and case studies

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Ethnicity and Resistance to Control
The archaeology of inequality is the study of how people have exercised economic and social
power over others, of the focus of this is the study of ideology of domination. Resistance to control
is indicated by artefacts, stratigraphy, art and iconography and monuments. For example:
ARTEFACTUAL EVIDENCE
Slave dwellings of South America
o Excavations of early slave dwellings
o 18th and 19th centuries in South America
o Many structures contained objects sacred to African Gods
o Garrison and Kingsmill cotton plantations in Maryland and Virginia contain peweter spoons
with engravings similar to African designs
o Other sites also feature blue beads, charms and bowls
o This indicates slaves had different cultural values to their masters
o Slaves also produced "Colono Ware" pots in the 18th century
o The pottery was unglazed earthenware pottery derived from the West African coast
o It was produced and traded by slaves in South America.
STRATIGRAPHY AND HUMAN REMAINS
Boudicca:
o Boudicca led her tribe and the Iceni against the Romans
o She adopted the role of war leader despite being a woman
o Fought to keep Iceni beliefs instead of adopting Roman beliefs
o 61AD Coalchester, London and St Alburns were burnt down in the rebellion
o Clear stratigraphic layers of the burning is the main evidence
o This layer is known as Boudicca's Destruction Horizon
o It contains burnt artefacts such as charred Samian pottery
o In Coalchester the red soot is visible in the basement of George Hotel
o (It's thought that Boudicca) desecrated sacred Roman burials at a London cemetery,
evidence of tombs of Roman military personal broken in two with the skulls facing into the
earth date to roughly the same time as the rebellion
o In London, Boudicca butchered the Roman population: it's thought that the Walbrook skulls
are evidence of some of the victims of Boudicca's beheading spree.
o 20 burnt skulls were found during crossrail work
o They may have been washed down from a cemetery further up limitation
o The rebellion was also documented by Tacitus
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ART AND ICONOGRAPHY
Abu Simbel / Tutankhamun
o Ramassess II and his wife Nefatiti
o The temples feature enemies being enslaves with chains
o Most likely subSaharan Africans
o Tutankhamun had a walking stick with a handle of a black African and Asian man
o Their position as the handle is symbolic of their submission and Tutankhamun's domination
of them
o His funerary chest depicted him on a chariot smiting enemies
o Probably depicted as his authority was in doubt ­he was ill and weak…read more

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ARTEFACTUAL EVIDENCE
Based on the idea of finding clear concentrations in a delineable area of a site, these can
then be used to indicate the location on site of individuals of different status. Artefacts
suggest status as they provide evidence for exchange and transport, often over a long
distance and this in turn indicates exotics or prestige good chains, it is also possible to
suggest if goods were produced by craft specialists who may have been attached to an elite.…read more

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This suggests that status is not easily identifiable in the archaeological record as the
are social connotations to the society involved in the burial
o Status may also be identified through tattoos, clothing or tribal scars
o Exceptional preservation conditions would be needed for these to survive (e.g.…read more

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Represent a development in the practise of sacrifice
o The lifesize warriors take the place of the real army
SETTLEMENT EVIDENCE
The relative size of a settlement is used to infer the important with the largest thought to be the
most influential. If settlements are all of a similar size within a society it suggests an
egalitarian society (segmentary), in contrast varying size settlements suggest a ranked
society.…read more

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Hathor is depicted suggesting divine approval
o Narmer is featured multiple times
o Narmer is always larger than other figures ­symbolic of his higher status and rank
o At one point he features in a procession wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt
o He holds a flail in his right hand and a mace in his left ­symbolic of kingship
o A bull's tail is hanging from the king's belt ­a sign of royal power
o There is a royal attendant with an inscription…read more

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Power and Social Control
ORGANISATION OF LABOUR
Power is the ability to make others do what you want, in can be inferred from status or
evidence of social control. Both can be suggested or inferred but not proved, from the
apparent organisation of labour and energy expenditure for large communal monuments.
Religious authority may be tied up with the exercise of power.…read more

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Danebury
o 20xs the storage capacity of a farmstead
o Suggests Danebury was a redistribution centre
o Nearby farms may have brought a tithe of their products
o Raw materials and manufactured goods were then redistributed to the farmers
o 2,400 storage pits found so far
o 4 and 6 post structures may have been granaries
o All the potential granaries are aligned against the road system
o They would have been raised 1 ½ meters off the ground to prevent rodents and damp
o…read more

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Security/boundary
o Statement of prosperity or prestige project
o 5 years after Hadrian's death the wall was abandoned
o Roman's moved further north, built the Antonnie wall
o Reoccupied Hadrian's wall from 160AD ­archaeological evidence only indicated the
function from this point onward ­LIMITATION
WARFARE
Thomas Hobbes suggested that life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," before
society developed, although other philosophers and archaeologists e.g. Rousseau hold the
view they were noble, peaceloving savages.…read more

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AD
o Bonampak was ruled by King Yajaw Chan Muwaan
o It was overseen by the King Yaxchilan
o Wall murals on the chapel in Bonampak depict Mayan warfare
o In room 1 musicians and dancers are depicted
o Symbolism: one dancer is an alligator and another a crayfish
o In room 2 there is a fresco of warfare
o The jungle fight centres on the king who is wearing a jaguar pelt and stabbing the
enemies.…read more

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