The ‘Ultimate Gift’: A gift that kept on giving? A fresh look at recent strontium isotope data on elite mobility patterns from individuals from the Nordic Bronze Age Denmark relative to extant anthropological models

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Within later European prehistory, scholars’ understanding of the mechanics of strategic alliance building through exogamic marriage (also known as Lévi-Strauss’ ultimate gift theorem) have coalesced into a de facto gendered mobility model in which any evidence of mobility is interpreted differently according to the gender of the deceased. Here, we investigate this topic via both an archaeometric as well as a theoretical approach, tying together new data and new theoretical developments from the recent mobility turn.
First, we describe a series of four case studies taken from from recent mobility research on Nordic Bronze Age Denmark: Skrydstrup Woman, Egtved Girl, Ølby Woman and the male from grave A14 Jelling Øst. The mobility patterns of the aforementioned persons are categorized via Reiter and Frei’s gender-neutral mobility model and are cross-examined with emergent evidence for gendered mobility trends across later European prehistory on the whole. We conclude from these data that, though it seems that gender and mobility were related, the gender roles as assigned by the de facto model cannot be applied across all regions and contexts. In spite of this, we maintain that the de facto model and the ultimate gift theorem on which it was based nonetheless remain useful analytical tools. By considering especially the ultimate gift scenario in relation to the recent concept of emotional geography [22,23], we propose to expand upon our understanding of the dynamics of alliance building through marriage in a more complex way which takes into account a variety of different mobility scenarios relative to gender roles in the past.
TitelMigrations et mobilités humaines au fil du temps : approches transdisciplinaires
RedaktørerClaudia Contente, Isabelle Séguy
Antal sider24
Publikationsdatojul. 2023
ISBN (Trykt)9788419160485
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2023