The Sacred Body: Materializing the Divine through Human Remains in Antiquity [Hardback]

Nicola Laneri (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789255188 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Materiality and Religion in Antiquity | Volume: 1 | Publication: April 2021 | Language: English 240p, H240 x W170 (mm) b/w
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

The Sacred Body


The human body represents the perfect element for relating communities of the living with the divine. This is clearly evident in the mythological stories that recount the creation of humans by deities among ancient and contemporaneous societies across a very broad geographical environment. Thus, parts of selected human body parts or skeletal elements can then become an ideal proxy for connecting with the supernatural as demonstrated by the cult of the human skulls among Neolithic communities in the Near East as well as the cult of the relics of Christian saints.

The aim of this volume is to undertake a cross-cultural investigation of the role played in antiquity by humans and human remains in creating forms of relationality with the divine. Such an approach will highlight how the human body can be envisioned as part of a broader materialization of religious beliefs that is based on connecting different realms of materiality in perceiving the supernatural by the community of the livings. Case studies on ritual aspects of funerary practices is presented, emphasising the varied roles of body parts in mortuary rituals and as relics. Other papers take a wider look at regional practices in various time periods and cultural contexts to explore the central role of the corpse in the negotiation of death in human culture.

Table of Contents

1) The Sacred Body: Introduction
Nicola Laneri
2) Materializing what Matters. Ritualized Bodies from Time Before Text
Liv Nilsson Stutz
3) Inscribing Bodies in Bronze Age Cyprus
Louise Steel
4) Manufacturing relics: the social construction of the ‘sacred things’
Arianna Rotondo
5) You’re in You’re Out: Sacred Royal Bodies and the High Priests of Amen
Kara Cooney
6) Materializing the Ancestors: Sacred Body Parts and Fragments in the Ancient Near East
Melissa S. Cradic
7) Modified Bodies: An Interpretation of Social Identity Embedded into Bones
Yilmaz Erdal and Valentina D’Amico
8) Feeding the Divine: Body Concepts and Human Sacrifice among the Classic-Period Maya
Vera Tiesler

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