Abstract and Keywords
This article explores some structures and dynamics which may have contributed to the development of social and political hierarchies in England in the fifth to seventh centuries, and some of the problems associated with this field of research. In particular, it investigates how some social dynamics and institutions, and the relationships between economic and social dynamics, may be seen to have promoted structures of power in ways that conditioned the development of dynasties wielding local, regional, and eventually supra-regional power by the beginning of the seventh century. Assemblages from furnished burials constitute the main archaeological source for considerations of gift exchange. Burial was an arena of social and political competition. Inheritance, as a mode of exchange between generations, is in many ways the antithesis of gifting items to the dead through furnished burial.
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