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Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas

Print version ISSN 1981-8122


STRAUSS, André. Interpretative possibilities and limitations of Saxe/Goldstein hypothesis. Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi. Ciênc. hum. [online]. 2012, vol.7, n.2, pp.525-546. ISSN 1981-8122.

The Saxe/Goldstein Hypothesis was generated within the processual archaeology milieu and therefore it was supposed to allow reconstructing the social dimensions of past populations by studying their mortuary practices. In its original form stated that the emergency of formal cemeteries would be the result of an increase on the competition for vital resources. This would lead to the formation of corporate groups of descent whose main objectives were to monopolize the access to vital resources. Later, a reformulated version of this hypothesis was developed emphasizing the relationship between the presence of formal cemeteries and mobility pattern of human groups. In this contribution we present a critical review on the formation of this hypothesis and discuss its limitations. Finally, two examples taken from the Brazilian archaeological record are used to show how the lack of a critical posture in relation to the Saxe/Goldstein Hypothesis may lead to fragile interpretations of the archaeological record.

Keywords : Archaeology of Death; Lagoa Santa; Sambaqui; Territoriality; Mobility patterns.

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