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SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND INTERACTION IN BRONZE AGE EURASIA: A Bioarchaeological and Statistical Approach to the Study of Communities

Ventresca Miller, Alicia (2013) SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND INTERACTION IN BRONZE AGE EURASIA: A Bioarchaeological and Statistical Approach to the Study of Communities. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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While it has recently become clear that pastoral groups have varied economies, social systems, and mobilities, current models of interaction have not integrated the variable lifeways of pastoral communities. In the case of north central Eurasia, scholars have focused their attention on sweeping changes that occurred in patterns of settlement and social institutions from the Middle (2100-1700 BC) to Late Bronze Age (1700-1400 BC). Efforts to understand this transition have resulted in models that cover broad expanses of steppe and oversimplify the existing data. In order to construct more convincing models of interaction for the Bronze Age, we must begin with comprehensive datasets of local communities. The research presented here confronts issues of social and biological variation and their role in structuring connectivity and relationships in prehistory.
To critically examine theories of interaction associated with posited social and economic developments during the Bronze Age, this dissertation investigates the shifting structure of social organization through an investigation of mortuary behaviors and ritual practices. Through a change in perspective, we re-focus on smaller micro-regional discussions of integration and interaction, addressing the relationship between the local community and the global through comparative analyses of two pastoral communities that span the Middle to Late Bronze Age. These periods are marked by a shift from aggregated to dispersed populations, broader spheres of interaction, and new forms of mortuary ritual. This research draws upon statistical analyses of mortuary remains, dietary reconstruction via stable isotopic analyses, and biodistance of dentition to develop a robust picture of changing social identities and organization. The results reveal that subsistence regimes stayed relatively uniform while inequality shifted drastically, evidenced by changes in kin centered wealth and identity signaling. This expands our understandings of social complexities of pastoral societies and adds to the growing body of literature on gender roles, status, and kinship. The Eurasian steppe is a pertinent location for the study of pastoral interactions, but few studies have examined the detailed nature of social and biological communities, or interplay between them. This project is important given that studies of pastoralist societies have infrequently contributed to comparative analyses of complex societies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ventresca Miller, Aliciaarv12@pitt.eduARV12
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHanks, Bryanbkh5@pitt.eduBKH5
Committee MemberLinduff, Katherynlinduff@pitt.eduLINDUFF
Committee MemberJudd, Margaretmjudd@pitt.eduMJUDD
Committee MemberRosenmeier,
Date: 25 July 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 October 2012
Approval Date: 25 July 2013
Submission Date: 15 April 2013
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 566
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Eurasia, Kazakhstan, social complexity, Bronze Age, pastoralism, globalization, glocalization, diet, identity, kinship, interaction
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2013 17:26
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11


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