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pattrick123

An egalitarian society building monuments?

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Historically, archaeologists have theorized that people built permanent monuments as reminders of shared history, ideals and culture, when they had established a settled, socially stratified agriculture society with abundant resources and strong leadership. It was believed that a political structure and the resources for specialization were prerequisites to engaging in monument building. Ancient monuments have thus previously been regarded as reliable indicators of complex societies with differentiated social classes. However, the Lothagam North cemetery was constructed by mobile pastoralists who show no evidence of a rigid social hierarchy. "This discovery challenges earlier ideas about monumentality," explains Elizabeth Sawchuk of Stony Brook University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. "Absent other evidence, Lothagam North provides an example of monumentality that is not demonstrably linked to the emergence of hierarchy, forcing us to consider other narratives of social change."

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Civic monuments are visible in some of the most primitive societies albeit probably less impressive than huge stone triumphal arches. Religion, commemoration, festivals, and so forth are part of our behaviour as social animals and manifest themselves at all levels, though clearly the scale of Roman monuments displays the power, wealth, and sometimes, ego of the persons involved. The Romans loved to see statues of themselves, especially in military guise. Theirs was a society that was acutely aware that life was short, and that courage in facing death was as important as anything done in life. I recall one funerary inscription - "I did not exist, I existed, I no longer exist". A man with little to say for himself clearly, yet the majority display an intention to be remembered for what they did in life , even if merely remembered as a beloved relative or colleague.

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