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Mon, 26-10-2020   
     
The Archaeology of Death and Burial

 

It is unlikely that the eighteen hundred Iron Age individuals thrown into peat bogs in Europe and Asia, the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, or the Vikings practicing human
sacrifice were aware at the time of their deaths that their funerary rituals would be subject to intense scrutiny and debate thousands of years later.

The Archaeology of Death and Burial by Mike Parker Pearson reviews the latest research in this huge field by studying the burial methods and rituals of peoples from the
ancient and recent past. Pearson draws on case studies from different periods and locations throughout the world, including the Paleolithic in Europe and the Near East, the Mesolithic in northern Europe, and the Iron Age in Asia and Europe. He also discusses ancient Egypt and Madagascar, the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Britain and Europe, the Anglo-Saxons, Native Americans, and those committing wartime atrocities.

By studying the various ways in which societies have buried and honored - or failed to honor - their dead, historians learn about a culture's world views, social organization, and way of life. By examining bodies of the deceased, archaeologists can learn about a particular person's status and rank in life, gender, what diseases he or she suffered from, and even what the person ate for his or her last meal. Such clues give archaeologists powerful insight into the worlds of the past.


With photos and line drawings to enhance the text, Parker Pearson devotes chapters to what can be learned from the dead; ethnoarchaeology; reading the body; status, rank, and power; gender and kinship; placement of the dead; the human experience of death; and excavating remains. He also describes the political and ethical controversies surrounding human remains and the problems of reburial, looting, and war crimes.

The Archaeology of Death and Burial provides a unique overview and synthesis of one of the most revealing fields of research into the past, which creates a context for several of archaeology's most breathtaking discoveries - from Tutankhamen to the Ice Man. This volume will find an avid audience among archaeologists, nthropologists, historians, and others who have a professional interest in, or general curiosity about, death and burial.


 



"First we must explore something of the extraordinary diversity of contemporary and recent treatments of the dead around the world in order to find out how different they may be and what aspects are commonly found. The aim of looking at the full range of known funerary practices is to ensure that we avoid imposing the rationalizations of our particular ethnocentric cultural logic to the past."--from the book

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MIKE PARKER PEARSON is a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield, England. His previous books include Bronze Age Britain and Architecture and Order.

http://www.tamu.edu/upress/BOOKS/2001/pearson.htm

 

 

Number Three: Texas A&M University Anthropology Series

 
 
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