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

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

ISBN: 9781782976394 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Studies in Funerary Archaeology | Volume: 7 | Year of Publication: 2014 | Language: English 320p, H242 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.

Table of Contents

Brandt, J. Rasmus: Introduction: Ritual, Change and Funerary Practices

1. Nilsson Stutz, Liv: A Proper Burial: Some Thoughts on Changes in Mortuary Ritual and how Archaeology can begin to understand them
2. Dolfini, Andrea: Neolithic and Copper Age Mortuary Practices in the Italian Peninsula: Change of Meaning or Change of Medium?
3. Fowler, Chris: Change and Continuity in Early Bronze Age Mortuary Rites: A Case Study from Northumberland
4. Härke, Heinrich & Belinskij, Andrej: Causes and Contexts of Long-Term Ritual Change: the Iron Age to Early Medieval Cemetery of Klin-Yar (North Caucasus, Russia)
5. Brandt, J. Rasmus: Passage to the Underworld. Continuity or Change in Etruscan Funerary Ideology and Practices (6th–2nd c. BC)?
6. Ahrens, Sven: ‘Whether by Decay or Fire consumed. . .’ Cremation in Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor
7. Pearce, John: A ‘Civilised’ Death? The Interpretation of Provincial Roman Grave Goods Assemblages
8. Prusac, Marina: Friends, Foes and Hybrids: The Transformation of Burial Ritual in
Roman Dalmatia
9. Rebillard, Èric: Commemorating the Dead in North Africa: Continuity and Change from the 2nd–5th CE
10. Achim, Irina: Churches and Graves of the Early Byzantine Period in Scythia Minor and Moesia Secunda: The Development of a Christian Topography at the Periphery of the Roman Empire
11. Bowden, Will: Status Anxiety in Early Medieval Albania: The Komani-Kruja Cemeteries
12. Oestigaard, Terje: Changing Rituals and the Invention of Tradition: The burnt Viking Ship at Myklebostad, Western Norway
13. Gilchrist, Roberta: Transforming Medieval Beliefs: The Significance of Bodily Resurrection to Medieval Burial Rituals
14. Tarlow, Sarah: Changing Beliefs about the Dead Body in Post-Medieval Britain and Ireland
General Index

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