Dimensions of inequality. Comparing the North Atlantic and the US Southwest

Orri Vésteinsson, Michelle Hegmon, Jette Arneborg, Glen Rice, Will G. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Analysis of three different realms of inequality in two pairs of small-scale pre-industrial societies in two very
different and culturally unconnected regions – Hohokam and Mimbres in the US Southwest and Greenland and
Iceland in the North Atlantic – suggests that inequality can be successfully used as a yardstick to compare
societies in the past. The study finds that there were significant inequalities in these small-scale farming societies
– often described in previous studies as “egalitarian” – but that proxies for economic inequality like access to
productive resources and to exotic goods do not fully reflect the range and nature of these inequalities. Access to
ritual space is found to be a more sensitive measure of actual inequalities as experienced by members of these
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume54 (2019)
Issue numberJune
Pages (from-to)172-191
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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