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Essential Tensions: A Framework for Exploring Inequality Through Mortuary Archaeology and Bioarchaeology

Colin P. Quinn / Jess Beck
Published Online: 2016-05-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0002

Abstract

Research on the emergence of institutionalized inequality has traditionally maintained an analytical divide between lived institutions that affect daily life and performed institutions materialized in mortuary contexts. Here, we argue that convergence or divergence between lived and performed contexts reveals key aspects of past social organization. When combined, mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeology provide a methodological framework well suited to evaluate the coherence or dissonance of such institutions. Three case studies from prehistoric Europe highlight how new insights gained by studying tension between institutions, identities and experiences across social dimensions can transform our understanding of the development of institutionalized inequality.

Keywords: Social organization; human osteology; coherence; dissonance; Neolithic; Copper Age; Bronze Age; Iberia; Ireland; Transylvania

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About the article

Received: 2015-08-15

Accepted: 2016-03-01

Published Online: 2016-05-16


Citation Information: Open Archaeology, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0002.

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© 2016 Colin P. Quinn, Jess Beck. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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