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

Nicola Laneri (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789255188 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Material Religion in Antiquity | Volume: 1 | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 160p, H240 x W170 (mm) b/w

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The Sacred Body


The human body serves as a symbolic bridge between communities of the living and the divine. This is clearly evident in mythological stories that recount the creation of humans by deities within ancient and contemporaneous societies across a very broad geographical environment. In certain circumstances, parts of selected humans can become an ideal proxy for connecting with the supernatural, as demonstrated by the cult of human skulls in Near Eastern Neolithic communities, as well as the cult of relics of Christian saints from the early Christian era.

To go deeper into this topic, this volume undertakes a cross-cultural investigation of the role played by both humans and human remains in creating forms of relationality with the divine in antiquity. This approach highlights how the human body can be envisioned as part of a broader materialisation of religious beliefs that is based on connecting different realms of materiality in the perception of the supernatural by communities of the living.

Table of Contents

1. The Sacred Body: introduction
Nicola Laneri  
2. Materializing what matters. Ritualized bodies from a 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 or you’re out: the inclusion or exclusion of sacred royal bodies in the tomb of the 21st Dynasty High Priests of Amen
Kathlyn 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 Selim Erdal and Valentina D’Amico  
8.   Feeding the divine. Body concepts and human sacrifice among the Classic period Maya
Vera Tiesler and Erik Velásquez García
About the Material Religion in Antiquity (MaReA) series

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