Death and the family: developing a generational chronology.

Sayer, Duncan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2769-1281 (2010) Death and the family: developing a generational chronology. Journal of Social Archaeology, 10 (1). pp. 59-91. ISSN 1469-6053

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Who buried the dead? Cemeteries contain the graves of people from local communities but the individual dead were buried by only a few members of that community, those that survived them. This article seeks to use detailed chronological information to analyse funerary data and proposes a system for establishing a generation-based dating scheme. Such a scheme advances studies of archaeological cemeteries by the discussion of life-time rather than end-of-life chronologies. This will enhance studies of social relationships, memory and the transmission of specific social identities by moving towards a more experiential archaeology. Specifically, I use a detailed study of three Anglo-Saxon cemeteries to investigate notions of social time. This article uses generational information in conjunction with other mortuary differentiations such as spatial location, age, life course, gender and grave-good wealth to show that Anglo-Saxon social status was determined by who was alive at any one time, and that the status of head of the household was not entirely determined by gender, but by who was able to fill the role.

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