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Funerary practices, identities, and social structures of the Oxus civilization

Elise Luneau, Post-doctorant at the German Archeological Institute, Section Eurasia, Berlin

Situated in the South of Central Asia, at the Bronze Age (between 2300 and 1500 B.C. about), the oxus civilization is a major culture of the ancient Eastern world. It belongs to societies with strong social differentiation manifested particularly in funeral practices. Despite some limitations, the study of the latter, in particular the analysis of the distribution of the grave goods, offers a strong potential to query the status of the deceased, as well as to understand the social structures of the Oxus civilization.

A funeral staging of social and functional division of this society may be glimpsed through the differential distribution of the offerings. Different categories of objects appear to function as attributes of functions and powers in various fields of competence. Among the various identities and social activities that are reflected, the gender difference is important, but not only. The study thus provides bases for discussion concerning certain aspects of the socio-political organization of the Oxus civilization.

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