Household possessions and wealth in agrarian states

Implications for archaeology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper deals with the problem of measuring household wealth from domestic artifactual remains. After an archaeologically useful definition and classification of wealth is presented, quantitative anthropological, sociological, and historical analyses demonstrating a strong association between household possessions and wealth are reviewed. Then, ethnographic and historical data on different functional categories of household goods are examined in order to assess their relative ability to predict wealth. Once the nature of the relationship between household possessions and wealth in the systemic context is specified, methodological problems influencing the detection of this relationship in the archaeological context are treated. It is concluded that household possessions are quite good wealth indicators in the systemic context, and that proper attention to a number of methodological issues allows archaeologists to take advantage of this relationship to measure household wealth in past societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-335
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

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possession
archaeology
ability
society
Household
Archaeology
Wealth
Possession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

Cite this

Household possessions and wealth in agrarian states : Implications for archaeology. / Smith, Michael.

In: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 6, No. 4, 1987, p. 297-335.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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