Hello hi, archaeologist here,

Jordan Peterson’s pronouncements on the nature of social inequality ARE demonstrably untrue. Inequality is NOT an endemic condition and burial goods are NOT proof of it.

Let’s unwrap this with.... evidence! 1/
FIRST, people being buried with goods is definitely NOT limited, by any measure. It’s widespread across time and space, stretching back to the very beginning of humans (maybe even before!). When you pan across all our ancestors (not just European ones), it’s wildly common. 2/
While the *quantity and content* of burial goods changes across different socioeconomic systems and over time,

💀🎁 burying your folk with stuff is a humanly thing to do.

but also,

💀 so is not burying your people with stuff!

People are hard to pin down like that. 3/
Where I work on the Interior Plateau of BC, burial goods are common for the last 5,000 years. Even when all other aspects indicate equality (or at least lack of pronounced stratification), or even poverty, people are furnished in death with jewelry, tools, paints etc. 4/
A good general source for basic facts on burial in the human past is The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial (Nilsson Stutz and Tarlow). It’s also full of discussions of the major issues. JP should read it. oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/o… 5/
SECOND, grave goods on their own are not taken by prehistorians as a proxy for inequality.

Mortuary practices are perfomative, so not a straight indicator. We also look at household archaeology, inter-site dynamics, and bioarcharchaeology (cos inequality has health effects). 6/
In her blog Bones Don’t Lie, @kmeyersemery gives a few vivid examples from Roman burial culture highlighting how unreliable assumptions about wealth can be: bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/ine… 7/
Burial practices—by and for the living—are complex and are about so much more than actual wealth.

@adamoutside’s work on funerary landscapes, or “deathscapes”, covers how burial practices reflect both spoken and unspoken social goals of the living: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108… 8/
Here’s a good summary of the common measures, besides burial status, used to determine imbalance in wealth and status, and our (archaeologists’) confidence in their effectiveness: core.tdar.org/document/40340… 9/
THIRD, inequality is NOT inevitable, it’s really variable through our existence. There’s no straight line in cultural development that correlates with rising inequality.

Worldwide, it’s more of a zigging, zagging, branching pattern with lots of abrupt starts and dead ends. 10/
And it’s *definitely* not a straight line from village leaders commoditizing some surplus to the existence of the massively wealthy “1%”.

The correlation THERE is with capitalist systems given free run where inequalities are violently enforced. 11/
Pronounced inequalities really only evolved in the last 10,000 years, with expansion and intensification of agriculture in Europe, Asia & parts of Africa, and the apparent lynchpin seems to be access to and domestication of beasts of burden. sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/… 12/
In the Americas, inequality is really diverse in terms of origins and expression. But interestingly, it def seems to have plateaued before reaching the extreme inequality that Europe exported with colonialism. 13/
Here’s a good collection of accessible archaeological thinking about how, where and when inequality is encountered in prehistory, and how we might approach explaining it’s diversity: core.tdar.org/collection/581… 14/
Here’s a good recent article that looks at >60 sites worldwide and a bunch of measures of inequality beyond burials. It’s the biggest of its kind and some of the most recent scholarship on these issues: nature.com/articles/natur…. 15/

A lot of this JP horseshit is given cred by scholars of *western history*, who conveniently sweep over everything that happened in the 190,000 years before that, and the endurance of Indigenous & other non-Eurasian socio-economic systems since the agricultural revolution 16/
The human experience is so much, much bigger than this slice of recent European societies that are offered without qualification as “history”, and so often put forth as


❌They’re not. JP IS WRONG.

Okeee I just dropped this thread and expect to hear from disgruntled JP fanboys (is there any other kind?),

but I’m going out of range now lol

When I come back I expect good faith discussion ~only~ in this thread
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