How we dispose of and commemorate our dead is fundamental to human culture. Human remains are some of the most significant archaeological finds and archaeologists have to know something about the diversity of attitudes and practices relating to the dead. This half-module begins with the study of methods and techniques of analysis, followed by a survey of contemporary societies' funerary practices and the variety of human responses to death. It then focuses on the interpretive theories and models that have been used to reconstruct the social significance of funerary treatment in past societies. Case studies will focus on the interpretation of rank and status, ritual and symbolism, territory and legitimation, and the ethical and legal aspects of exhumation and reburial. These studies will range across a wide variety of periods and places, from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present day.
For registered students
- Running in 2014-15