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Complex but Equal: Developing an Archaeological Inequality Index to Investigate Social Inequality at the Bronze Age III site of Numayra, Jordan

Author(s): Nicholas Ames ; Meredith Chesson ; Ian Kuijt ; Rahul Oka

Year: 2016

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Summary

The origins, evolution, and variation of inequality comprise a central overarching theme within anthropological archaeology. Various ideas, including hierarchy and heterarchy and their material correlates, have been proffered to explain the origins and impact of inequality on past social, economic, and political organization. Within Economics and Development Studies, various indices and measures, e.g., Gini coefficient, Theil Index, HDI and GDP, and the Consumption Approach have been offered as potentially useful approaches for measuring inequality. Although many of these approaches are not directly applicable to the archaeology given the relative holes within the paucity of data, we can combine the theoretical bases of the approaches with cross-cultural ethnographic data on using material and spatial indicators, and differential consumption to develop an Archaeological Inequality Index (AII) (Oka 2013) to infer and quantify inequality in human societies. Applying AII to the fortified Early Bronze Age III site of Numayra (c2850-2550 BCE cal), we argue that despite considerable architectural and economic complexity, there is no significant evidence to suggesting institutionalized inequality in Numayra in any of the phases of settlement. The Archaeological Inequality Index provides an alternative means for understanding and assessing inequality or lack thereof in past societies.


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Complex but Equal: Developing an Archaeological Inequality Index to Investigate Social Inequality at the Bronze Age III site of Numayra, Jordan. Nicholas Ames, Meredith Chesson, Ian Kuijt, Rahul Oka. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403399)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
West Asia


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America