In this chapter you have learned about how societies are organized and the analytical tools that archaeologists use to study social organization. This exercise allows you to put some of these tools into action.
For this activity you will be asked to visit a local graveyard. The smaller graveyards attached to older churches are ideal (you may need to get permission from the church or landowner before you complete this exercise). A notepad and pencil are all the equipment you will need.
If there is not a small graveyard you can visit, select part of a larger one. If there is no graveyard in the area you can visit, you will have to improvise. Why not visit a parking lot and, instead of graves, use the age and distribution of cars to assess social status.
Your first step is to make a map. On a piece of paper make a sketch of the outer boundaries of the site. Note any major features such as a church or large pathway.
Walking around, take a random sample of about thirty gravestones. Mark these stones with a dot on your map and record the year of death written on each one. Try to spread out the stones you choose as much as possible to cover the whole of the graveyard area. When you have finished, use your map and the observations that you have made to answer the following questions.