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In this dissertation, I evaluate the socio-political and economic changes during the transition from the Late Copper Age to the Early Bronze Age in South Moravia (Czech Republic). This part of prehistory has been envisioned as a period of intensification of the metal economy and long-distance exchange that led to a rise of social inequality and the centralization of power. To assess this model, I explore two main processes: 1) changes in vertical social differences; and 2) changes in gender relations. I approach the two processes primarily from the perspective of mortuary analysis and formulate three main research hypotheses: 1) vertical social differences became more institutionalized over time; 2) institutionalization of vertical social differences primarily followed the "big man strategy"; and 3) gender inequality decreased over time. For each of the three hypotheses I specify series of expectations for patterns in the archaeological record. This research is designed to take advantage of multiple lines of evidence that can be divided into four main tiers. First, I investigate two large Late Copper Age and two large Early Bronze Age cemeteries in detail. Second, I compare the general Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age samples, which consist of a total of 429 burials. Third, I investigate the differences between Early Bronze Age burials in settlement pits (n=70) and cemeteries (n=125). Fourth, I explore the distribution of hoards and hilltop settlements and the size of all the settlements to evaluate population parameters. The institutionalization of vertical social differences was limited because only a few lines of evidence support the hypothesis. On one hand, the mortuary treatment of children and individuals who were buried in settlement pits supports the institutionalization of vertical social differences. On the other hand, spatial distribution of burials, differences among females and among males, secondary mortuary practices, individuality of leaders, and the nature of features in settlements do not support this hypothesis. The strategies of ambitious individuals tended towards the big man model rather than the great man model. The presence of large quantities of metal in burials and hoards suggests that the manipulation of exchange, rather than spiritual activities and warfare provided the means for aggrandizers to raise above others. Gender inequality decreased over time. Male-specific forms of body treatment, artifacts, and grave characteristics diminished over time, while female funerals became elaborate. I argue that the elaboration of female burials in the Early Bronze Age is unlikely to reflect their husbands' status only but is an indicator of the status of females themselves.
Mortuary studies Gender, Central Europe, Social inequality
Date of Defense
March 19, 2007.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Anthropology in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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