10 Social Organization


Segmentary Society



Total Numbers

Less than 100 Up to a few 1000 5000-20,000+ 20,000+

Social Organization

Class-based hierarchy under king or emperor; Armies

Economic Organization

Central accumulation & redistribution;Some craft specialization

Religious Organization

Religious leaders;Calendrical rituals

Contemporary Examples

Inuit; San; Australian Aborigines Pueblos; New Guinea Highlanders;
Nuer and Dinka
NW Coast Native Americans; 18th century Polynesia All modern states

Settlement Pattern

Urban: cities, towns; frontier defenses; roads


See Figure 10.1 below: Mezhirich mammoth hut See Figure 10:2 below: Çatalhöyük
Permanent huts; Burial Mounds; Shrines
See Figure 10.3 below: Stonehenge See Figure 10.4 below: Chichén Itzá

Archaeological Examples

Early metal working and Formative societies

                                                                      Table 10.1: Social Organization Chart

Picture of a hut made from bones and animal skin
Figure 10.1: Mezhirich mammoth hut


image of Çatal höyük archaeological excavation with standing stone brick architecture
Figure 10.2:  Çatalhöyük
Image of Stonehenge. Archaeological site having several stones erected vertically with one stone placed horizontally on top of the other vertical stones
Figure 10.3: Stonehenge
Chichen Itza, a ruined ancient Maya city occupying an area of 4 square miles
Figure 10.4: Chichén Itzá


What is the four-fold classification systems of societies, and who was the anthropologist that developed it?


Describe each one of the classification systems in detail.

















Define social inequality. How can mortuary analysis (the study of human burials and cemeteries) be used to investigate social inequality in the past?


Settlement pattern analysis is the most common way to investigate social organization of the past.  However, depending on the type of society, the survey and excavation methods can vary.  Describe the data collection methods of a mobile hunter-gatherer society below, e.g. most hunter-gatherers live in band societies, what type of architecture do band societies have? What else?


In archaeology the terms “gender” and “sex” are very different from each other. Describe why below.



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