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By Voutsaki, Sofia

Past due Bronze Age Greece graves burials

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Thereby, the values favouring one segment of society prevail across the social body (Miller 1988, 63). Social life is permeated by a set of standards against which excellence and morality are judged -in a word by the mode of prestige. Prestige subordinates and 'encompasses' (Dumont 1970) all other classificatory schemes: it sets life purposes for actors and defines the methods by which they can be achieved; it constructs social reality and the subject within it. The reproduction of division within local communities has important ramifications for the intensity of production.

Competitive gift giving -'gifts to men'- does not permit long- 44 term accumulation, while the sacrifice of goods in feasts, etc. -'gifts to god'- allows the accumulation of capital. However, Gregory's scheme of two successive and static systems, when transferred on to the archaeological evidence, leaves two crucial questions unanswered. How are gift exchange and conspicuous consumption articulated? And how is a system of conspicuous consumption initiated? My point is this: does the depositional record always give us direct insight into the principles of gift exchange?

Structural transformation implies a discontinuity, an element that cannot be traced back to traditional principles and practices. Giddens (1984, 246) has suggested that there may be 'critical thresholds' of change, with some key institutional transformations taking place over a relatively short period of time but generating a long-term momentum of development. Gledhill (1988, 15) has suggested that the initial condition for the rise of social complexity should be sought in the institutionalization of an 'ownership' differential -an element totally opposed to the reciprocal obligations of the kin order.

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