From Building to Connecting: Shifting Portraits of Complexity in Ancient Aksumite Monument Construction (50–400 AD)
Author(s): Dil Basanti
This paper looks at how network theory and materiality may challenge progressive evolutionary models of complexity. Archaeologists working on the African continent have long argued against neoevolutionary models of complexity, advocating instead for understandings that promote dynamism and fluidity. However, the spectre of neoevolution still claims the public imagination: bigger still seems to be better even if we agree it really shouldn’t be. This paper aids in complicating these views by emphasizing how recent understandings of network theory and materiality shift the portrait of complexity from one of linear progression to one of social disconnection. More specifically, this paper explores how current ideas of materiality inherently flip our value system for how societies may be complex – so that bigger is not necessarily better, but the result of peoples attempts to deal with isolation, alienation, disconnection, and sometimes social instability. A case study on the construction of the Aksumite funerary monuments (50-400 AD) in ancient Ethiopia will be used to illustrate the two approaches.
Cite this Record
From Building to Connecting: Shifting Portraits of Complexity in Ancient Aksumite Monument Construction (50–400 AD). Dil Basanti. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442534)
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min long: 32.432; min lat: -5.003 ; max long: 54.053; max lat: 18.062 ;
Abstract Id(s): 20701