Doctoral Dissertation Research: Community Building with Local Mortuary Ceramics in Long-Distance Economies: A Compositional Study on Ancient Aksum (50-400 AD)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project investigates how long-distance trade interfaced with heterarchical and hierarchical social dynamics in the kingdom of Aksum (50-800 AD) in the northern Horn of Africa. Studies of social complexity have historically linked long-distance trade to rising hierarchies by arguing that elite actors rely less on local support once foreign resources are available. In such cases, actors may be free to employ distinction-seeking strategies that separate themselves from others at the expense of localized community-building. Later cross-cultural studies demonstrated that rarely are such outcomes absolute, and hierarchies often coexist with heterarchies. Additionally, long-distance economies often interface with group-oriented social structures in the archaeology of African societies, though the relationship between community-building social strategies and long-distance trade remains unclear. This project draws on these studies to investigate how attempts at preserving group dynamics through mortuary ritual interfaced with long-distance trade in ancient Aksum (50-800 AD).
Effective start/end date9/1/228/31/24


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-2227814)


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