The role of the aged in primitive society

Yale University Press New Haven Published In Pages: ??
By Simmons, Leo W.


The aged of either sex, with some preference for males, have regularly been in demand as sources of information and experience, especially where no better means of preservation and transmission of knowledge is available. They are particularly active as priests and shamans. Variables such as climate, residence, stage of maintenance and family system exercise no marked influence on these special prerogatives of the aged (175)


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail

Related Hypotheses

Main AuthorHypothesis
Simmons, Leo W."Statistically, analysis reveals that the practice [killing the aged] has been most prevalent where the climate has been severe, where residence has been impermanent, and the food supply irregular; it has also been observed . . . among collectors, hunters, herders, and fishers" (240)
Simmons, Leo W.Participation by the aged in general activities is dependent upon climate, permanency of residence, basic maintenance activities and family organization. The opportunity of the aged to participate in subsistence activities increases among herders and agriculturalists. Aged males are more likely to contribute to infant and child care in matriarchal societies. Midwifery is practiced by aged women regardless of cultural determinants (102, 103, 104)
Winkelman, Michael JamesThe presence of priests will be positively associated with political integration and the presence of agriculture (345).
Bentzen, Jeanet Sinding Priests and witches/sorcerers are more common in stratified societies than in unstratified societies.
Simmons, Leo W.Prestige of the aged is negatively correlated with severe climate and impermanent residence. It is positively correlated for aged men and women where they have property rights and influence in government. Aged women enjoy more prestige in hunting-gathering and fishing societies and in societies where matrilineal family organization prevails. Aged men have high prestige where the food supply is constant, where family organization type is patrilineal, in herding and framing societies, and w...