Thesis abstract ‘An Archaeological Analysis of Gender Roles in Ancient Non-Literate Cultures of Eurasia’

17th November 2013

Mike Adamson

MA, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, July 2004

Ascription of sex to inhumed remains on the principle basis of grave-goods, as distinct from anthropometric data, can be a vague process due to incipient gender bias in interpretation. Cross-matching of anthropometrics with grave goods can sometimes generate results that appear ambiguous or paradoxical as they may not accord with preconceived relationships between gender roles and sex. This reduces confidence in the demography of various archaeologically-revealed cultures, especially those of Iron Age Europe, which were erected on the basis of what we may now see as potentially flawed analysis.

Comparative and contrasting analyses are made of contemporary and related cultures to investigate gender role assumptions on a wide basis. Regarding non-literate cultures, archaeologists have limited means to interpret the relationships between sex and gender-roles, and these methods are explored. The traditional outlook is assessed for functional bias in light of its origins and perpetuation, and a new synthesis is proposed for ongoing analysis. This synthesis includes strict application of refined anthropometric methodology and the resolution of paradox by adoption of a revised underlying hypothesis.

A correlation is observed between use of the horse and a significant blurring of gender role stereotypes, occurring in nomadic cultures whose legacy persists to the present day. This is examined in light of the proposed new synthesis for a consequential or coincidental relationship, the former being apparent. It is found that gender role bias has played an uncomfortably large part in Iron Age scholarship, and that outdated sociocultural assumptions continue to foster an unsupportable view of elements of world history.

Adamson, M.
Thesis abstract 'An Archaeological Analysis of Gender Roles in Ancient Non-Literate Cultures of Eurasia'
Thesis Abstracts
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