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Wrist Clasps and Patriliny

A Hypothesis

Frank Battaglia

Keywords: Beowulf; bone-tempered ceramic; D-bracteate; East Anglia; Funnel Beaker Culture; horse cremation; matriliny

Early Anglo-Saxon ethnicities are read primarily from jewelry and other metal grave furnishings of women. After a period of funerary observances incorporating otherthanmetal signifiers and with differing gender and religious implications, a characteristic suite of accessories, devised on British soil of Scandinavian antecedents, had attained prominence in Anglian areas. The boundary of use of certain sleeve fasteners corresponds to the later southern border of the kingdom of East Anglia. These female cuff -links appear to have marked patrilineal marriages whose high status in an innovative political network consolidated the displacement of long-standing matrilineal traditions among British and Germanic populations. Matrilineal social organizations had characterized the Neolithic Period, when horticulture began and food animals were domesticated. The growth of East Anglian political organization may be traced in a patronymic place-name practice. The kingdom seems to have found in patrilineal social structures a constitutive mechanism.

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