Mortuary Practices of The Naqada

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.

1 thought on “Mortuary Practices of The Naqada

  1. baile175

    I really liked your blog about our current discussion on mortuary practices in class. I, too, also for a long time did not see a connection possible between social class and archaeology when I first started studying anthropology. To me, the connection was blurry at best. Ironically though, similar to you, my eyes were widened last year in another one of my anthropology classes when we were watching a movie about the Egyptian pyramids and who had possibly built them. Although I can’t remember the name of the video currently, here is a link to an article that is somewhat similar to what I had watched :

    In the article/movie, it was discussed that the pyramids could not have been built by slaves, which as we all know has been quite a popular notion. Instead, archaeologist found grave sites relatively near the pyramids that showed evidence of large settlements of people with complex practices. A few things that I remember vividly was that they had proof that there was extensive bread production in that area (evidence of bread pot ceramics) and they found evidence for social class rankings in the resting areas. From the video, I remember them stating how they had found one grave that how hieroglyphs that stated that he/she was rather high up in command for the construction of the pyramids. Some others were not so extensively decorated, but still at a higher status than a slave would get.

    It is pretty cool to realize how things such as cultural practices and social status can be determined from things such as ceramics and mortuary practices. I just thought I would commit on your blog because I thought it was nice that I was not the only one that had their eyes opened to the possibilities of archaeology.

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