Symbolism and Differentiation across the Maros Villages

  • John M. O’Shea
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


Chapter 8 considered Mokrin, the largest and best documented of the Maros cemeteries, and subjected the patterns of funerary differentiation observed there to a series of examinations designed to reveal the underlying character of the social categories and statuses that structured the funerary program. The goal of this chapter is to assess the extent to which these patterns of differentiation and social symbolism are shared among the Maros cemeteries. While it is reasonable to expect a degree of similarity in the ideology, practices, and organization among associated communities, there is no reason to believe that the treatments and practices among a series of autonomous villages should be identical. Indeed, it is to be expected that at least some aspects of the practices followed in each village should be distinct and that the overall patterns of treatment and organization will exhibit a balancing of distinctive local practice with more broadly shared custom. Such balancing in the funerary program fits with the more general and pervasive tension in village confederacies between local autonomy and tribal cohesiveness, and contrasts with the more centralized control of hierarchically organized societies. Thus, the intent of this chapter, rather than to attempt to fit all the Maros cemeteries into Mokrin’s mold, is to look at the sometimes fragmentary evidence from the other Maros cemeteries and attempt to determine which aspects of the funerary symbolism are broadly shared across Maros society and which elements might more properly be treated as purely local phenomena. The composite picture of the Maros villages that emerges not only can provide insight into the actual organization of Maros society as a tribal social system (or village confederacy), but also may provide hints at the processes that led to the crystallization of Maros society.


Normative Gender Ceramic Assemblage Funerary Ritual Chronological Trend Bone Needle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. O’Shea
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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