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Journal Article

Communities in Conflict: Death and the Contest for Social Order in the Euphrates River Valley

Anne Porter
Near Eastern Archaeology
Vol. 65, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 156-173
DOI: 10.2307/3210881
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3210881
Page Count: 18
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Abstract

The author investigates mortuary practices at the third millennium BCE site of Tell Banat, an important city of the third millennium on the Euphrates River in modern Syria. Work at the site has revealed evidence of changing social ideologies and organization that broaden our current understandings of urbanization and state formation. Porter emphasizes how the continued construction of monumental mortuary mounds from the early to late third millennium, and the nature of burial practices within them, highlight the collective nature of the deceased. Ancestor traditions mediate an imagery of unity and parity and these traditions give evidence of a corporate socio-political system. In the subsequent period of state consolidation, corporate imagery was adopted by the elite as social legitimation. Yet such manipulation of traditional social practices also served to constrain the degree to which elites could exert autonomous power.

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