Social diversity, social identity, and the emergence of surplus in the western Central European Neolithic

Gronenborn, D., H.C. Strien, P. Turchin, and R. v. Dick
Surplus without the State: Political Forms in Prehistory January 2, 2018 Journal Link


Social diversity, and where archaeologically visible social identity, may have been powerful forcing factors in societal dynamics. Here we look at how these factors may have operated during the period of the emergence of inequality and institutionalized surplus during the Western-Central European Neolithic. Based on the typo-chronological analysis of time-series of ceramic motifs, and their interpretation as social markers, we suggest that social diversity cycles are decoupled from population cycles, at least for the period under investigation. Thus, they may constitute an independent proxy for social mechanisms. Social diversity cycles may have forced population growth to some extent at least during the Early Neolithic and also may have forced and influenced the emergence and the archaeological visibility of inequality and surplus during the Early to Middle Neolithic transition.
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