Human Nature

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 355–376 | Cite as

From bridewealth to dowry?

A bayesian estimation of ancestral states of marriage transfers in Indo-European groups
Article

Abstract

Significant amounts of wealth have been exchanged as part of marriage settlements throughout history. Although various models have been proposed for interpreting these practices, their development over time has not been investigated systematically. In this paper we use a Bayesian MCMC phylogenetic comparative approach to reconstruct the evolution of two forms of wealth transfers at marriage, dowry and bridewealth, for 51 Indo-European cultural groups. Results indicate that dowry is more likely to have been the ancestral practice, and that a minimum of four changes to bridewealth is necessary to explain the observed distribution of the two states across the cultural groups.

Key words

Ancestral states Bayesian MCMC phylogenetic and comparative methods Bridewealth Dowry Indo-European Marriage transfers 

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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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