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Politics and Ideology

At the beginning of the Argaric period, it started a process that led to the first stratified and state-owned society in the Iberian Peninsula. This one consisted in production relations based on absolute surplus, appropriation and centralized process of great part of the production, and finally on the politic support of practices of socio-economic exploitation.

The central settlements had great part of the accumulated surplus, the means of work and workforce. This control was reflected on the standardization of pottery and metal objects in circulation or of restricted use, especially metals.

 

Cráneo femenino con diadema de plata Female skull with silver diadem from grave 62 of El Argar (Mariën and Ulrix-Closset 1985: fig. 80)

 

The clearest example of the diversion and appropriation of production by a small group is observed in the uneven accumulation of metal products in the grave goods and the exclusive presence of some of them only among the ruling class. Statistical analysis of a series of assemblages deposited as grave goods in individual graves allowed V. Lull and J. Estévez in 1986 to distinguish five categories correlated with at least three social classes. Subsequent studies have led to refine much more this initial characterization. The ruling class (category 1 and 2) would consist of approximately 10% of the population, which would enjoy all privileges and  would receive the richest grave goods, which include specialized offensive weapons (halberds and swords) always assigned men. They would be responsible for maintaining class privilege by resorting to physical force when necessary. 50% of the population correspond to individuals with political and social rights (category 3) and finally, 40% correspond to individuals under serfdom or even slavery (categories 4 and 5).

 

imagenPolitica e ideologiaArgaric population structured in social classes toward 1700 BC (Image based on the graphics of the Archaeological Museum of Almería)

 

This social structure was developed and established over the nearly 700-year Argaric period, in a context of cultural tightness and institutionalization of relations of exploitation. The sustenance of the Argaric social system was based on kinship relations, deductible from the associations of individuals who share funerary contexts (tombs) and the system of inheritance. Individuals belonging to the privileged class reserved the right to redeem and build objects of great social value in their graves, besides enjoying better living conditions. This structure was reproduced in the last centuries of Argaric occupation through the practice of institutionalized mental and physical coercion. In this sense, the Argar represents one of the main centers of production and use of weapons that could have a dual application, on one hand, internal coercion, on the other hand, the expansion of the self and the exclusion from the outside. On the other hand, the denial of subjective expression in ceramic production (no decoration) and the standardization of funerary practices would be two clear examples of the effects of such subjective enforcement mechanisms.

 

TraumatismoCranealAmong the population buried in the site of Castellón Alto, twelve individuals (ten male and two female) have cranial traumatism (Aranda et al. 2009: fig. 4)

 

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