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An evolutionary and quantitative analysis of construction variation in prehistoric monumental burials of eastern Arabia

Bortolini, E; (2014) An evolutionary and quantitative analysis of construction variation in prehistoric monumental burials of eastern Arabia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study aims to analyse change in prehistoric funerary structures and related material culture of Bronze Age eastern Arabia (Sultanate of Oman and UAE, 3100-2000 BC) from the perspective of cultural evolutionary theory. By observing the patterning of decorative and structural elements in monumental tombs and pottery, new hypotheses about the underlying mechanisms of cultural transmission can be explored. The main objective is to transcend the traditional dichotomy between early and late tomb types by creating an explanatory framework that looks at diachronic variation to lay the foundations for future inference of cultural processes. The research develops a new systematic description of tombs and ceramic materials that allows for consistent observation of change through time. Pattern-recognition methods are applied to both tombs and pottery: structural variability in tombs is observed in space and time, and the association between burials and local geology is tested for significance; variation in ceramic materials is examined, as well as their association with funerary practices. Intra- and inter-site diversity measures are used to investigate the role played by human interaction/isolation and possible demographic fluctuations in determining the mechanisms of adoption, replication and persistence of the examined cultural variants. The study relied on both published and unpublished evidence encompassing the whole study region. It also benefitted from the systematic collection of data through pedestrian survey from a previously unexplored area of northern Oman (Wādi Halfayin, ad-Dākhilyyah). By proposing a new analytical scale and by starting to research the cultural processes underlying diachronic change, this work allows for a reassessment of current classification and interpretation of prehistoric funerary practices of eastern Arabia, and generates new hypotheses on a still largely unknown archaeological context.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An evolutionary and quantitative analysis of construction variation in prehistoric monumental burials of eastern Arabia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1429814
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