Inferring personhood through funerary evidence in Late Prehistoric Southeastern Iberia (3200-1500 BC)
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date21/03/2023
Díaz de Liaño Del Valle, Guillermo
This work explores, through the theoretical analysis of funerary evidence, notions of personhood during the Chalcolithic and the Early and Middle Bronze Age (3200-1500 BC) in the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. In order to infer the main features of personhood, this work assembles a theoretical framework, based on the work of the theoretical archaeologist Almudena Hernando, combined with elements from the work of Charles Taylor, John Chapman, and several concepts from the Anthropology of Personhood. This theoretical framework allows to explore the general characterisation of personhood, mainly through the gradient individuality-relationality and the notions of partibility and permeability, but also explores the perception of the self in relation to non-human entities, the stances of the self toward other human beings, and the main ways of conceptualising, representing, and experiencing reality. The need for this framework is predicted on the principle of prehistoric personhood being radically different from contemporary Western notions of personhood, and thus being necessary to study it on its own. It is also based on the idea that simplistic, unilinear models of personhood where this trait moves from relationality towards individualism fail to acknowledge its complexity. The results of this work suggest that personhood in the Chalcolithic was fundamentally relational, despite the appearance of incipient individuality, with partibility being an important feature and that non-human entities played an important part in the constitution of personhood. Moreover, it is likely that personhood was not exclusive of human beings, and that it was at least partially extended to non-human entities such as certain objects and ancestors. With the arrival of the Argaric Bronze Age, and still within a fundamentally relational personhood, individuality increased remarkably. However, this process of individualisation did not affect equally all groups within Argaric society, and while it seems that the elites became more individualised, there is clear evidence of widespread resilience practices. Both partibility and non-human personhood continued existing, although not in the exact same way, and permeability became an important trait of Argaric personhood. Finally, this work connects personhood with how humans relate to the world, exploring how personhood affects the way people engage with other human and non-human entities, as well as how reality itself could have been perceived, conceptualised and experienced in connection with the available features of personhood.