Lately we have been discussing the role of socioeconomic status in archaeology. I must admit that initially I found no correlation between class status and archaeology. Granted this could have been due to my pre-conceived notions about archaeology, but it was refreshing to know that other components such as class status is a part of the field. In a few of our class discussions we’ve discussed several civilizations (for lack of a better phrase) that have exhibited class distribution in a variety of areas such as: mortuary practices, material culture and agricultural practices. However I will be focusing on mortuary practices.
For instance in Predynastic Upper Egypt, the Naqada mortuary practices were different depending on the social class of the person being buried. For instance, tombs of the rich were segregated from the poor. The contents within the graves were also evidence of class differentiation. There was an unequal distribution of goods within the graves as well. What I really like about looking at the mortuary practices of the Naqada is how heightened the class distinction became as different levels of the Naqada arose. I also find it interesting that in this period of time there were marked class distinctions that are evident within the burial sites. I think that its very important to look at class distinctions within older societies because it helps us to understand how trends in class status reinvent themselves in newer societies and these are related to concepts of power. High economic class usually represents elite figures and those who are elite usually have power and its evident throughout the society.