Read the assignment carefully. Use the information provided on these pages to answer questions at the end. Address all of these questions in your essay. The essay should be at least 3 pages long, typed, double-spaced with one inch margins. Group work is not allowed.
This assignment will give you a deeper understanding of complex societies and how archaeologists interpret them from the archaeological record. Archaeologists concerned with complex societies have identified social and economic hierarchies and continue to devote a good deal of attention to their remains, especially those left by powerful people (Paynter & McGuire 1991). They have used diverse kinds of evidence to examine unequal distribution of resources and its consequences. These include variations in burial practices (Menzel 1976), differences in physical stature as indicators of differential dietary practices within a society (Haviland 1967), differences in the age-specific mortality profiles of different social groups (McCarthy & Graff 1980), the possession of objects exhibiting restricted use or consumption, and differences in the style or size of residential architecture and their accessibility or seclusion.
The following data are from a series of contemporary archaeological sites located near one another. Analysis of chronologically sensitive artifacts—for example, red-painted pottery and decorated textiles—as well as an extensive series of absolute dates obtained from various materials associated with the sites indicate that they date from a period spanning 50 to 75 years.
Site 31. This village had 88 residential structures with covered floor areas averaging 48 square meters and an estimated population of 440 to 500 individuals. Residents engaged in agricultural production, hunting, and weaving. There was also some part-time craft specialization: Red-painted pottery vessels were manufactured by 20 households, 12 residential units produced embroidered plain-woven fabrics, and 11 made farming implements—stone digging-stick weights. Archaeologists excavated 800 burials at the cemetery adjacent to and contemporary with the village. There were 275 infants less than 2 years old and 525 juveniles, adolescents, and adults, only 10 of whom survived beyond the age of 35 years. The average stature of adult males and females were 162 cm and 156 cm, respectively. Ninety-two percent of the juvenile and adult burials had associated grave goods consisting of one to three red-painted plates containing the remains of domesticated plant foods. In addition, adolescent and adult males were buried with slings and females with spinning, weaving, and sewing implements; 11 adult males were buried with hammer-stones. There are two other farming villages that are very similar to Site 31, though they are not described here.
Site 37 This settlement contained 13 residential structures with covered floor areas averaging 52 square meters: a food storehouse and a warehouse where raw materials, weapons, and cloth were stored, and two workshops. Woven fabrics were produced in one workshop and stone weapons in the other. Seasonal indicators in the habitation refuse indicate that 12 domestic structures were occupied from September to December and that 1 was used throughout the year. There is no evidence that these seasonal occupants farmed, fished, or hunted while they resided at this production site; the food they consumed presumably came from the storehouse. The habitation refuse also yielded embroidered and tapestry scraps and broken and/or expended stoneworking implements.
Site 40 This settlement is a specialized production-residential center near Sites 42 and 43. The village contained eight residential structures/workshops with covered floor areas averaging 60 square meters and an estimated population of 45 to 70 individuals. On the southern edge of the settlement, there was a storehouse containing quantities of spondylus shell, nodules of jade and turquoise, and copper, tin, gold, and silver ores. There is no evidence that the inhabitants of the village engaged in food production or hunting activities or that they produced any of the pottery they used. Seasonal indicators in the food debris indicated that the structures were inhabited continuously throughout the year. The industrial refuse associated with the eight structures indicates that they were used and inhabited by artisans: two by jeweler-lapidaries who worked with jade and turquoise, one by a metalsmith-jeweler who made alloys and gold and silver jewelry, one by potters who made a variety of black polished pottery vessels, two by woodworkers, and two by stone carvers. There were 90 burials associated with this site. There were 40 infants less than 2 years old, 8 were juveniles and 42 were adults, 5 of whom survived more than 35 years. The average statures of the adult males and females were 159 centimeters and 156 centimeters, respectively. Juveniles, adolescents, and adults were buried in flexed position in pits with turquoise necklaces and pottery plates filled with domesticated plant foods and tool kits. The grave goods indicate that both men and women toiled as jeweler-lapidaries, metalsmiths, potters, and woodcarvers; women produced carved stone objects.
Site 42 This is a small truncated pyramid adjacent to Site 43. The offering pits in each corner of the platform were filled with the remains of cultivated plants, marine fish, and spondylus. A storehouse adjacent to the pyramid contained small quantities of jade and turquoise jewelry, spondylus shell, and food remains. The residential structure had a covered floor space of 100 square meters and sheltered 10 to 12 individuals. There is no evidence that anything was produced at Site 42. Refuse around the dwelling yielded fragments of pottery vessels manufactured exclusively at Site 40, woven cloth, and food remains, suggesting that the house was occupied continuously throughout the year. Eight individuals were buried at the pyramid. Four adolescents—both male and female—with their hands tied behind their backs were buried under each corner of the pyramid. Each individual wore two necklaces, one made of jade and the other of turquoise. The burials coincided with the initial construction phase of the structure. The remaining four individuals were buried in a tomb with wooden walls and a thatched roof. The tomb contained a 45-year-old male who was 172 centimeters tall, a 50-year-old woman who was 163 centimeters tall, and two children. The adults wore jade necklaces and silver pins.
Site 43 This locality consisted of 1 residential structure with covered floor area of 400 square meters. The structure was divided into a kitchen area, a large public area, and four sleeping areas, one of which was half the size of the others. The sleeping areas suggest a population of 10 to 20 individuals. Refuse yielded pottery vessels manufactured exclusively at Site 40, food scraps, and cloth resembling that manufactured at Site 37. There is no evidence that anything was produced in the vicinity of this structure. Three large, elaborate stone burial vaults were erected next to residential structure at this site. Each represents a labor investment of 1 to 2 million person-days and involved the participation of both skilled craftspeople and laborers. One burial vault contained eight individuals: a 50-year-old man who was 161 centimeters tall, a 25-year-old female who was 156 centimeters tall, a second 25-year-old female who was 158 centimeters tall, a 30-year-old female who was 157 centimeters tall, three infants less than 2 years old, and a juvenile approximately 10 years old and presumably male. The adult male was buried in an elaborately carved wooden coffin with jade, turquoise, gold, silver, and spondylus inlays, which was covered by a carved limestone sarcophagus. He wore a tapestry tunic and 12 necklaces of shell, gold and silver. Ten gold and five silver plates filled with domesticated plant foods were placed inside the coffin. The juvenile was also interred in a carved wooden coffin. The juvenile wore a tapestry tunic and gold and silver necklaces; he was associated with five silver plates containing domesticated plant foods. The three adult females were buried in flexed position; they wore tapestry garments and turquoise necklaces. The three infants were buried in black polished pottery jars. There were 200 red-painted pottery plates, 20 gold plates, and 16 silver bottles in the tomb.
Questions for the essay:
Generally, you should discuss what activities occurred at each settlement. This problem requires you to examine the division of labor that differentiates direct producers from non-producers, as well as the social results of that division.
Specifically, how did age and gender structure the division of labor found at farming villages such as Site 31? Were the goods produced at each site consumed or used locally, or did they circulate beyond that site?
What happened at Site 37? What is the evidence for part-time craft specialization and full-time craft production?
Who lived at Site 40? What distinguished their status?
What happened at Site 42? What was the probable status of the adults buried in the tomb?
Who resided at Site 43 and who was buried in the burial vault described in detail? What status did they have?
After answering these specific questions, do a comparative analysis of the sites. To do this, describe the system of inequality, social stratification, and unequal distribution that existed. Were there any significant differences in the style or size of residential structures among the various settlements? Were there differences in individuals’ stature or health? Were there differences in burial goods between the sites? How do these differences reflect social status?