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As in Life, So in Death: An analysis of the sociocultural structuring processes which affected the normative body treatment in the Lapita burial ritual
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The understanding of ancient societies is often mainly based on how their burial sites have been interpreted. This is especially true for ancient societies where the burial sites may be the only remaining traces which can be studied. With a classical model, their analysis can yield valuable results on certain areas such as identifying status relationships and spatial groupings. The social structure that originally affected how the burial ceremony was conducted, however has largely been a subject of speculation. To analyse this structure a new theoretical foundation is required. In this thesis a ritualization perspective rooter in ritual theory has been implemented. It´s inclusion allows for the study of the structuring processes within the burials by identifying the normative actions which constituted the ritual. This approach requires methods capable of recreating that the ritual actions through the funerary remains. For this reason, the methodological approach employed has been largely rooted in archaeothanatology and taphonomy. In this thesis the Lapita culture which was active in Melanesia ca. 3000 BP has been in focus. This culture was chosen since its societal structure has so far been speculated widely but so far, no consensus has been reached. Only two Burial sites of adequate size and quality have been found to date, Reber-Rakival in Papua New Guinea and Teouma in Watom. These sites have been analysed previously and the findings suggest a rich variation in the funerary ritual implemented at the sites. Ritual has long been linked to societal structure but there are few methods which allow an archaeologist to study this structure through the ritual. The methods have been employed on physical remains from Reber-Rakival and recorded images from Teouma with the aim of clarifying the funerary ceremony and identifying the normative actions at both sites. The addition of previous research and ethnographic data was incorporated to compare and further clarify the interpretations. The resulting interpretation suggests that the burial practice and societal structure at the different sites had some overlap in how individuals of differing genders were positioned and treated. The extent to which this treatment was at the core of the ritual however, varied. In Teouma there was a clearly defined androcentric influence which was prevalent in both how the bodies were positioned and to what extent they were interfered with. This differed to the societal structure which affected the burials in Reber-Rakival which could not be as clearly defined given the greater level of disturbance at the site but was clearly not as extreme in favour of males. This indicates that different societal structures were in place but at present it cannot be considered as a conclusive estimation, further research is required to test it.

Abstract [sv]

Tolkandet av forntida samhällen har ofta till stor del baserats på hur deras begravningsformer tolkas. Dessa undersökningar kan ge goda resultat men har oftast varit fokuserade på att identifiera exempelvis status och spatiala grupperingar. Den sociala strukturen som påverkade begravningsceremonin undersöks sällan närmare än via bred spekulation i den klassiska modellen. För att studera denna sociala struktur genom begravningsritualen närmare krävs teoretiska perspektiv som sällan brukas inom klassisk arkeologi. Ett teoretiskt perspektiv med vilket just denna struktur kan studeras är ritualization. Genom detta perspektiv kan de identifierbara normativa handlingarna inom en begravningsritual ses som en återspegling av den sociokulturellt strukturerande processen som påverkade ritualens utförande. Detta kräver metoder som kan återskapa handlingarna genom de material som finns tillhanda. I denna uppsats har Lapitakulturen i Melanesien som var verksam ca. 3000 år sedan legat i fokus för att se hur effektiv denna metod är på en relativt okänd kultur var sociala struktur är oöppen för vid spekulation i nuläget. Bara två större gravplatser från Lapitakulturen har identifierats i nuläget, Reber-Rakival i Papua Nya Guinea och Teouma i Vanuatu, så analysen har begränsats till dessa två platser.  Metoderna som använts har sina rötter i arkaeothanatologi och tafonomi har implementerats på fysiska material från Reber-Rakival och bildbevis från Teouma. Endast handlingar som direkt påverkade kroppens position inkluderades och ämnade att klargöra den rituella processen med focus på normativa handlingar och identifieringen av potentiella indikatorer för att tolka hur den rituella strukturen kan tolkas. Jämförelse med resultat från tidigare analyser och etnografiska exempel utfördes för att testa tolkningarna. Resultaten av dessa metoder visade att den rituella processen hade vissa likheter mellan de två platserna. Speciellt i att de varierade beroende på den gravlagdes kön. Vid sin kärna var det dock olika. Detta kunde ses i de mycket tydligare tecken på en klar separation mellan könen med en klar androcentrisk agenda i de rituella handlingarna i Teouma jämfört med Reber-Rakival där de rituella normerna var mer svårtolkade då platsen var mer störd men indikerar att den rådande strukturen inte var lika extrem i fördel för manliga individer. Denna uppskattning kan dock i nuläget inte ses som en slutgiltig tolkning, ytterligare studier krävs för att testa den.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Lapita, Burial, Ritualization, Taphonomy, Disarticulation
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-372509OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-372509DiVA, id: diva2:1276011
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Available from: 2019-01-07 Created: 2019-01-07 Last updated: 2019-01-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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