Death and Changing Rituals: Function and meaning in ancient funerary practices [Paperback]

Håkon Roland (Editor); Marina Prusac (Editor); J. Rasmus Brandt (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789253818 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Studies in Funerary Archaeology | Volume: 7 | Year of Publication: 2020 | Language: English 480p, H240 x W170 (mm) b/w and colour illustrations

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Death and Changing Rituals


The forms by which a deceased person may be brought to rest are as many as there are causes of death. In most societies the disposal of the corpse is accompanied by some form of celebration or ritual which may range from a simple act of deportment in solitude to the engagement of large masses of people in laborious and creative festivities. In a funerary context the term ritual may be taken to represent a process that incorporates all the actions performed and thoughts expressed in connection with a dying and dead person, from the preparatory pre-death stages to the final deposition of the corpse and the post-mortem stages of grief and commemoration. The contributions presented here are focused not on the examination of different funerary practices, their function and meaning, but on the changes of such rituals – how and when they occurred and how they may be explained. Based on case studies from a range of geographical regions and from different prehistoric and historical periods, a range of key themes are examined concerning belief and ritual, body and deposition, place, performance and commemoration, exploring a complex web of practices.

Reviews & Quotes

"The volume’s success in bringing together the different contributions under a similar set of questions and approaches forms an admirable example of how to combine local studies to gain much wider relevance. I therefore would recommend the book to any academic or student interested in the study of death in the past."
Borja Legarra Herrero
American Journal Of Archaeology (01/10/2016)

"All of the papers in this volume provide fascinating examples of the reasons for change in funerary practices over time, making it fascinating reading for anyone interested in the archaeology of death and burial."
James Holloway
Fortean Times (04/11/2020)

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