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The dead and the living : burial mounds & cairns and the development of social classes in the Gulf of Georgia region

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Title: The dead and the living : burial mounds & cairns and the development of social classes in the Gulf of Georgia region
Author: Thom, Brian David
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Anthropology
Copyright Date: 1995
Subject Keywords Salish Indians -- Antiquities; Indians of North America -- British Columbia -- Antiquities
Abstract: This thesis provides a model for understanding how social classes arose in the Gulf of Georgia area. This model distinguishes how social status in rank and a class societies are manifested and maintained in non-state, kin-based societies, drawing mainly from ethnographic descriptions. The relationship between the living and the dead for making status claims in both rank and class societies makes the archaeological study of mortuary ritual important for investigating these relationships. I propose that burial mounds and cairns, which were prominent in the region from 1500 to 1000 years ago, reflect a time when status differentiation was defined mainly through social rank. Following this period, when all forms of below-ground burials cease and above-ground graves become the dominant form of mortuary practice, I propose that the historically recorded pattern of social class emerged. Archaeological investigations of the burial mounds and cairns at the Scowlitz site have provided the first fully reported instances of mound and cairn burials in this region. Using less well reported data from over 150 additional burial mounds and cairns reported from other sites in the region, evidence for the nature of status differentiation sought out. Patterns in the burial record are investigated through discussing variation within classes of burials, demography and deposition, spatial patterning, grave goods, and temporal variation. These patterns and changes are then discussed within the context of the larger culture history of the region, suggesting that the late Marpole or Garrison sub-phase may be defined as ending around 1000 BP with the cessation of below-ground burial practices. The general patterns observed in mound and cairn burials and the changes in mortuary ritual subsequent to their being built generally support the idea of a shift from a rank to a class society. The thesis provides a basis for further investigation of questions of social status and inequality in the Gulf of Georgia region.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/3859
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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