Analysis of the Predynastic cemetery of el-Gerzeh : social identities and mortuary practices during the spread of the 'Naqada culture'
Stevenson, Alice Elizabeth
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Oriental Studies
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Stevenson, A. E. (2007). Analysis of the Predynastic cemetery of el-Gerzeh : social identities and mortuary practices during the spread of the 'Naqada culture' (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.15920
An analysis of the Predynastic cemetery of el-Gerzeh: social identities and mortuary practices during the spread of the 'Naqada culture"' by Alice Stevenson The archaeological investigation into the remains of the Predynastic Egyptian cemetery of el-Gerzeh (3600 BC-3350 BC) is the basis for this thesis. The site was excavated in 1911 by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, and became the eponymous site for that time. Despite the site's apparent importance, the published account was brief. Fortunately, the field-notes and cemetery map are extant, as are some of the artefacts excavated. Using these sources it is has been possible to reevaluate the site and its significance. The dissertation is divided into three parts. Part I provides an overview of the evidence and assesses its chronological and spatial context. The data provide the opportunity to date one of the earliest substantial cemeteries bearing Upper Egyptian traits in Lower Egypt and this is addressed using cuiTent chronological models, mapping of horizontal stratigraphy and seriation of ceramic types. The dating of the site, however, is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a control for this thesis' main area of interest; the consideration of the identity of, and identities within, the community bmied here and this forms the basis for Pat1s II and Ill. Relevant sub-issues that are also discussed include scale, and the significance of funerary rituals to society, such as social memory, and how this is interpreted archaeologically. Group identity is the focus of Part II, and is viewed through the concepts of ethnicity and migration, emphasising the need to consider material culture as a correlate and medium of social practice. The material construction of the bmials, and the manner in which grave goods were manipulated dming the funeral, are compared with Upper and Lower Egyptian contexts and are used as evidence to argue that the community buried at Gerzeh were most likely migrants who were deeply embedded within Upper Egyptian traditions. Part Ill looks at the differences between graves within the cemetery as evidence for differential responses to age and social status. It is argued that previous attempts to interpret Predynastic mortuary evidence in these terms have been limited and over-simplified, a correlate partly, of employing outdated models. By appealing to more recent discussions in archaeology and anthropology a critical examination of these issues is presented. Using statistical methodologies, together with thick description of individual burial contexts, the complexity of mortuary practices and their significance for interpretation of identities are emphasised.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.15920
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