The Labor of Building a Community: Collective Organization and Mortuary Practices in Copper Age Iberia

Author(s): Jess Beck

Year: 2019


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.

The Iberian Copper Age (c.3200-2250 BC) witnesses a suite of interrelated changes, including expansion of exchange networks, intensification of agriculture, increases in population density, and greater investment in site infrastructure. Accordingly, it is noteworthy that third millennium collective mortuary practices hark back to the Neolithic, even at some of the unprecedented "mega-sites" that appear during this time. Some of these mega-sites show indications of the emergence of institutionalized inequalities through increasing spatial and material attention to the individual, and inter-tomb variability in the quality and quantity of grave goods. In contrast, the 113 ha enclosure settlement of Marroquíes lacks clear or overt evidence for domestic or mortuary inequality. Here, bioarchaeological results suggest that village inhabitants led relatively similar lives in terms of diet and disease, most individuals had local strontium isotope ratios, and males, females, adults, and subadults were all incorporated into mortuary practices. Skeletal analysis thus indicates that within third-millennium Iberia there were multiple ways to build a community, from large-scale centers that emerged in tandem with indicators of increasing social inequality, to other mega-sites where archaeological and bioarchaeological evidence suggest a more cooperative approach.

Cite this Record

The Labor of Building a Community: Collective Organization and Mortuary Practices in Copper Age Iberia. Jess Beck. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450635)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23266