Questioning Complexity: Amulet Usage and Relational Ontologies in Hunter-Gatherers from Japan and Alaska
Author(s): Daniel Temple
This is an abstract from the "Cooperative Bodies: Bioarchaeology and Non-ranked Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Social complexity is a term that often refers to the evolution of inequality in human populations along socioeconomic scales. This concept is historically traceable to unilineal evolutionary paradigms where reduced complexity is often defined based on othering in comparison to Western industrialized capitalism. This study questions such deterministic views of complexity by contrasting amulet usage in the mortuary practices of two hunter-gatherer populations, one originating from Point Hope, Alaska (ca. 1200-900 BP and 800-400 BP), a second originating from the Atsumi peninsula, Japan (ca. 3300-2500 BP). Along the Atsumi peninsula, amulet usage is found in the graves of approximately 13 percent of adult burials and these individuals consumed greater amounts of marine foods. By contrast, amulet usage is ubiquitous in adult and pre-adult burials from the Ipiutak and Tigara occupations at Point Hope, and appears to be incorporated into these burials through ideations of social maturation and follow the emergence of identities through interactions with the spiritual landscape of Point Hope. These results suggest that there exist alternative layers of complexity found in the ontological and ritual boundaries of cultures that defy traditional definitions and suggest that the ideations surrounding complexity must be critically evaluated.
Cite this Record
Questioning Complexity: Amulet Usage and Relational Ontologies in Hunter-Gatherers from Japan and Alaska. Daniel Temple. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450631)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Abstract Id(s): 24602