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Ritual or Structure? Analysis of Burial Elaboration at Dadianzi, Inner Mongolia

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For an analysis of the Early Bronze Age cemetery site at Dadianzi in Inner Mongolia a model is proposed which combines aspects of various anthropological approaches to burial studies. The effectiveness of this model is demonstrated using measures that assess the elaboration of individual graves at the site. These values are used to examine political and social action in the context of mortuary ritual. The evidence suggests that the social system associated with these burials underwent a change over time from one in which individuals used the burial ritual as a political arena for negotiating social relationships and power to one in which the funeral process acted as a mechanism by which those with institutionalized power and prestige could reify the existing social structure.

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