The study proposed here, based on a representative sample (148 tombs), deals with the patterns of organization and the funerary customs in the necropolis of Pontecagnano, Salerno (over 6000 tombs dated from the ninth to the fourth century BC), during the Orientalizing period with special regard to the period between the last quarter of the eighth and the middle of the VII BC.
Through the analysis of the buried groups and of the spatial distribution it has been possible to highlight certain trends useful for the reconstruction of the social organization in its horizontal and vertical (gender, age, status, rank) and finally to propose an interpretation of certain social dynamics involving the community to which the cemetery belonged.
The resulting image is that of a society where social stratification has become permanent, and where inferior social status possibly implies exclusion from formal burial areas. The community seems to be dominated by strong kinship group loyalties, probably opposing different groups. An especially noteworthy feature is the dialectics, within the domain of funerary ideology, between male and female figures.
A central theoretical and methodological assumption of this study is that the relationship between social organization and its ‘reflection’ in funerary customs is a complex, mediated phenomenon, a perspective that has been especially outlined by certain currents of European Archaeology.