Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:

Mortuary Treatment, Pathology, and Social Relations of the Jiahu Community

File Size Format  
AP-v47n2-242-298.pdf 24.33 MB Adobe PDF View/Open

Item Summary

Title:Mortuary Treatment, Pathology, and Social Relations of the Jiahu Community
Authors:Smith, Barbara Li
Lee, Yun Kuen
mortuary practice
social reconstruction
projective ritual
LC Subject Headings:Prehistoric peoples--Asia--Periodicals.
Prehistoric peoples--Oceania--Periodicals.
East Asia--Antiquities--Periodicals.
Date Issued:2008
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Citation:Smith, B. L., and Y. K. Lee. 2008. Mortuary Treatment, Pathology, and Social Relations of the Jiahu Community. Asian Perspectives 47 (2): 242-98.
Series:Volume 47
Number 2
Abstract:Funeral ritual is a projective symbolic system where the treatment received by a deceased individual does not necessarily reflect the social position of that individual when living. Study of past social relations based on mortuary treatment alone is potentially ambiguous. Because many diseases leave indelible marks on the skeleton, human bones provide independent information reflecting the health and behavior of the deceased. Integrating the studies of mortuary treatment and osteological pathology can achieve a fuller understanding of past societies. Equipped with this hybrid methodology, we tried to unravel the social relations of an early Neolithic community at Jiahu in central China. The considerable difference in the quantity and quality of grave offerings indicates the presence of competitive display in funeral practice. However, the individuals buried in richly furnished graves had higher rates of iron-deficiency anemia than those buried in poorly furnished graves, indicating that higher status at death was not inherited but achieved. Osteoarthritis rates in the females were lower than that of the males, suggesting that they were less engaged in mechanically stressful activities. This sexual division of labor is reflected in a differential mortuary treatment in that fewer females were buried in the communal graveyards and their graves were furnished with less material wealth. Yet, the females had lower iron-deficiency anemia rates, suggesting that playing a physically less strenuous role did not hinder their access to critical resources such as meat in the diet. KEYWORDS: China, mortuary practice, pathology, social reconstruction, projective ritual.
ISSN:1535-8283 (E-ISSN)
0066-8435 (Print)
Appears in Collections: Asian Perspectives, 2008 - Volume 47, Number 2 (Fall)

Please email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.

Items in ScholarSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.