An archaeological investigation of gender on the late prehistoric steppe

Author(s): K. Bryce Lowry; Jeremy Beach

Year: 2015


In 1954, Hawkes warned that the intangible aspects of social life are the most difficult for archaeologists to comment on due to distance between object and ideology, the material and the mental world. Certainly, there is an epistemological slippage that can occur when moving between categories of social life that rely on objects to legitimize claims or complete tasks, and those aspects of society which can be veiled within larger, and immaterial, structures or norms—religious beliefs, ideological superstructures, affect. This paper will attempt to problematize discussions of gender often couched solely in terms of power, political economy, and ideology. How can a discussion of gender proceed if data speaking to power and ideology are missing, or are unclear at best? Using archaeological, ethnographic, and historical approaches we will demonstrate that views about gender are of special interest both empirically and theoretically, as they are truly "nested" within the most impenetrable sections of Hawkes’ schema—yet—not entirely out of reach. We will focus on the late prehistory of Mongolia and the wider steppe (ca. 1500-0 BC) in order to investigate gender roles and practices, sexual divisions of labor, and (in)equality within the oikos.

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Cite this Record

An archaeological investigation of gender on the late prehistoric steppe. Jeremy Beach, K. Bryce Lowry. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396468)