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  SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND INTERACTION IN BRONZE AGE EURASIA:A Bioarchaeological and Statistical Approach to the Study of Communities Alicia Ventresca Miller, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2013While it has recently become clear that pastoral groups have varied economies, social systems,and mobilities, current models of interaction have not integrated information on the variablelifeways of pastoral communities into their analyses. The Eurasian steppe zone is oftenrecognized as a pertinent location for the study of pastoral interactions, but few studies in thisregion have attempted to examine the detailed nature of social and biological communities, andthe interplay between them. In the case of north central Eurasia, scholars have focused their¬†attention on sweeping changes that occurred from the Middle (2100-1700 BC) to Late BronzeAge (1700-1400 BC). These periods are marked by a shift from aggregated to dispersed¬†populations, broader spheres of interaction, and new forms of mortuary ritual. Efforts tounderstand this transition have resulted in the proposal of models that cover broad geographicexpanses and oversimplify the existing data. In order to construct more convincing regionalmodels of interaction for the Bronze Age, we must begin with comprehensive datasets of localcommunities. The research presented here confronts issues of social and biological variation andtheir roles in structuring connectivity and relationships in prehistory. Furthermore, this project isimportant given that studies of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist societies have infrequentlycontributed to the broader comparative analysis of complex societies.In order to critically examine theories of interaction associated with social and economicdevelopments in Eurasia during the Bronze Age; this dissertation investigates the shiftingstructure of social organization through an investigation of mortuary behaviors. Through achange in perspective, we may move away from the examination of broad interaction spheres,and re-focus on both micro- and macro-regional discussions of integration and interaction. Thisresearch addresses the relationship between local groups and global events through comparativeanalyses of two pastoral communities that span the Middle to Late Bronze Age. This researchdraws upon statistical analyses of mortuary remains, dietary reconstruction via stable isotopicanalyses, and biodistance of dentition to develop a robust picture of changing social identitiesand organization. The results reveal that subsistence regimes stayed relatively uniform whilesocial inequality shifted drastically, evidenced by changes in kin centered wealth and identitysignaling. Therefore, in these communities social complexity is not only related to social statusand inequality, but also to more detailed and multifaceted social formations includingintermarriage, social mobility, residence patterns, and the nature of social interaction. Thisresearch thus expands our understandings of social complexities of pastoral societies and adds tothe growing body of literature on gender roles, status, and kinship.
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