Friday, June 26, 2015

0303 – Social implications of monumentality

Some ditched enclosures reveal a significant investment in labor in the building of their structures.

The investment in works of significant amplitude has undeniable social implications. Applying complex systems theory to social developments shows us that the higher is the scale of the task and the number of persons involved the harder is the consensual decision and the management of the enterprise, implicating the emergence of leading persons or groups. So, we might agree that, enterprises that require significant amount of work and investment, inherently require specific forms of leadership in the decision and implementation processes. The archaeological data available for the large ditched enclosures of the 3rd millennium BC in Alentejo region would have implicated the development of stronger leaderships that would have initiated processes of social competition and created needs for differential forms of consumption and social display that fed the increase of circulation of the exotic materials obtained through long distance interchange networks. In other words, these large sites of social aggregation seem to have implied the development of social segregation. And if, as Churchill argued, we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us, this is not just true at an individual level, but also at a society level: the development of a monumental architecture during this period was not simply a response to ongoing social changes, but actively contributed to conform and induce them in a trajectory towards social competition and inequality. 

But to what extent did this social path developed in the region during the 3rd millennium BC? This is the question that has had significant different answers, in a debate that clearly shows the influence of the present theoretical frames in the constructions of the past.

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