Cifarelli, Megan. 2017. Costly choices: Signaling theory and dress in period IVb at Hasanlu Iran. Cifarelli, Megan & Laura Gawlinski (eds.), What shall I say of clothes? Theoretical and methodological approaches. Boston: The Archaeological Institute of America.
A growing body of work on dress in antiquity has probed more deeply the embodied experience of wearers, the relational aspect of the way dress communicates, and the role of dress as an active element in, rather than a passive reflection of, the construction of identity. It remains challenging, though, to interpret material evidence that shows abrupt changes in
dress practice. This article explores the potential of costly signaling theory, borrowed from evolutionary archaeology, for interpreting the gendered, militaristic dress-related artifacts introduced in the burials of the early first millennium B.C.E. at Hasanlu, Iran, a period of external threatand internal upheaval. Rather than characterizing these changes as simply evidence of “militarization” in a time of crisis, this article argues that a seemingly unwearable type of dress item participated in an effective, mutually beneficial form of communication by which men and women negotiated identity and power at the site.