The Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion [Hardback]

Alexandra Livarda (Editor); Richard Madgwick (Editor); Santiago Riera Mora (Editor)

ISBN: 9781785708282 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2018 | Language: English 232p, H280 x W220 (mm) b/w and colour

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The Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion


The Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion is the first volume dedicated to exploring ritual and religious practice in past societies from a variety of ‘environmental’ remains. Building on recent debates surrounding, for instance, performance, materiality and the false dichotomy between ritualistic and secular behaviour, this book investigates notions of ritual and religion through the lens of perishable material culture. Research centring on bioarchaeological evidence and drawing on methods from archaeological science has traditionally focused on functional questions surrounding environment and economy. However, recent years have seen an increased recognition of the under-exploited potential for scientific data to provide detailed information relating to ritual and religious practice. This volume explores the diverse roles of plant, animal and other organic remains in ritual and religion, as foods, offerings, sensory or healing mediums, grave goods, and worked artefacts. It also provides insights into how archaeological science can shed light on the reconstruction of ritual processes and the framing of rituals. The 14 papers showcase current and new approaches in the investigation of bioarchaeological evidence for elucidating complex social issues and worldviews. The case studies are intentionally broad, encompassing a range of sub-disciplines of bioarchaeology, including archaeobotany, anthracology, palynology, micromorphology, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology (including avian and worked bone studies), archaeomalacology and organic residue analysis. The temporal and geographical coverage is equally wide, extending across Europe from the Mediterranean and Aegean to the Baltic and North Atlantic regions and from the Mesolithic to the medieval period. The volume also includes a discursive paper by Prof. Brian Hayden, who suggests a different interpretative framework of archaeological contexts and rituals.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
List of Contributors
Alexandra Livarda, Richard Madgwick and Santiago Riera Mora
1. Ritual and Religion: Bioarchaeological Perspectives
Alexandra Livarda and Richard Madgwick
2. Sacred to the Soil: Micromorphology, Geoarchaeology, and the Bioarchaeology of Ritual and Religion, with Reference to the Iron Age Site of High Pasture Cave, Scotland
Jo McKenzie
3. Pollen Signatures of a Ritual Process in the Collective Burial Cave of Cova des Pas (Late Bronze Age, Minorca, Balearic Islands, Spain)
Santiago Riera Mora, Gabriel Servera-Vives, Llorenç Picornell-Gelabert, Manon Cabanis, Marzia Boi and Yannick Miras
4. The Final Masquerade: Resinous Substances and Roman Mortuary Rites
Rhea Brettell, Eline Schotsmans, William Martin, Ben Stern and Carl Heron
5. Plant Rituals and Fuel in Roman Cemeteries of Apulia (SE Italy)
Valentina Caracuta and Girolamo Fiorentino
6. Feasting in a Sacred Grove: a Multidisciplinary Study of the Gallo-Roman Sanctuary of Kempraten, Switzerland
Pirmin Koch, Örni Akeret, Sabine Deschler-Erb, Heide Hüster-Plogmann, Christine Pümpin and Lucia Wick
7. Ritual Meals and Votive Offerings: Shells and Animal Bones at the Archaic Sanctuary of Apollo at Ancient Zone, Thrace, Greece
Rena Veropoulidou and Daphne Nikolaidou
8. Animals and Rituals in Iron Age Iberian Settlements in the Region of Valencia, Spain
Maria Pilar Iborra Eres
9. Animal Biographies in the Iron Age of Wessex: Winnall Down, UK, Revisited
James Morris
10. Faunal Remains and Ritualisation: Case Studies from Bronze Age Caves in Central Italy
Letizia Silvestri, Mario F. Rolfo, Micaela Angle, Robin Skeates and Leonardo Salari
11. Towards an Archaeology of the Social Meanings of the Environment: Plants and Animals at the Prehistoric Ceremonial and Funerary Staggered Turriform of Son Ferrer (Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain)
Llorenç Picornell-Gelabert, Manuel Calvo Trias, Jaume Garcia Rosselló, Gabriel Servera-Vives, Giovanna Bosi, Jordi Nadal Lorenzo, Santiago Riera Mora and Ethel Allué
12. Animals and Worldviews: a Diachronic Approach to Tooth and Bone Pendants from the Mesolithic to the Medieval Period in Estonia
Tõnno Jonuks and Eve Rannamäe
13. Birds in Death: Avian Archaeology and the Mortuary Record in the Scottish Islands
Julia Best and Jacqui Mulville
14. Beyond Bones:  Ritual and Social Secrets in Archaeological Remains
Brian Hayden

Reviews & Quotes

"…the authors are able to provide a new and insightful perspective – and demonstrate their ability to shed light on burial rituals for which the actual remains are unable to provide much information… Through its breadth of data, the reader is able to appreciate just how much bioarchaeology – all the many subdisciplines of it – can contribute to our study of the past."
Kathryn Krakowka
Current Archaeology (19/11/2018)

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