Social Differentiation

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Gender of human remains can show social differentiation in a variety of different ways. One such factor is damage on the bones may indicate the job of the deceased, for example, signs of osteoarthritis in the Canadian Inuits jaws and right hands indicate that they were sewing skins. In comparison, disease to the right shoulder and elbow in some cases show that the deceased used harpoons which have been interpreted as men who hunted. Social differences have been seen between male and female skeletons at Tell Abu Hureyra; grooves in the sides of women's teeth are thought to have been caused by drawing fibres through them before using the fibres in baskets and male skeletons had lesions and strain injuries to their arms which might be associated with spears. However, these lesions may have been created by post depositional factors. Another evaluative point is that these remains do not prove that all males hunted and all females sewed - it only proves that women had bad teeth. The layout of graves also show social differentiation as evidence at Skara Brae shows us; bodies of two females, interred in stone-built graves, were discovered beneath the right hand bed and wall. It was apparent that the females had been buried there before the house was constructed and their presence could have signified some sort of foundation ritual. However, this may also signify that this area was their domain in life. Social differentiation can also be identified through the age of the deceased. At West Kennet, DNA analysis on the bones has shown that 46 individuals were disarticulated into various transepts in the tomb. The bones were sorted into not only by gender, but also age; infant, young adult and elderly, suggesting that each age group had a specific role within the society.

To a certain extent grave goods can tell us a lot about social differentiation based on gender. Rich male graves are often interpreted in terms of what he earned whereas when a woman is found...
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