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Personhood, the life course and mortuary practices in Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic Europe.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Chris Fowler


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This chapter argues that mortuary practices may be carried out in accordance with cultural ethos aboutproper conduct and an idealized or expected life course. From this basis the chapter explores the treatmentof the human remains of the dead and artefacts associated with them in different processes of personaltransformation and commemoration.While accepting that other factors may also be as important ormore important in funerary practices, the piece illustrates its argument with a series of ethnographicstudies and sociological observations, before presenting an analysis of prehistoric European mortuarypractices at the large scale and over the long term, from the Mesolithic, through the Neolithic andChalcolithic, and into the Early Bronze Age. This analysis draws out trends and highlights specificitiesin how communities commemorated and transformed the dead during the burial process and afterwardsbased on factors such as the inclusion of certain objects in the grave and the exclusion of others,the bodily transformation of the dead, and the location of burials with respect to one other and toarchitectural features. It draws broad conclusions about personhood at the large scale by focusing onthe way and extent to which mortuary practices accentuated gender, age, life course, relations betweenhumans and animals, and other features of community ethos in different periods and regions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fowler C

Editor(s): Nizzo,V

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Archeologia e antropologia della morte: 2. Corpi, relazioni e azioni: il paesaggio del rito, Atti del 3° Incontro Internazionale di Studi di Antropologia e Archeologia a confronto [Roma, École française de Rome – Stadio di Domiziano, 2

Year: 2018

Volume: 2

Pages: 83-120

Print publication date: 26/05/2018

Acceptance date: 20/05/2016

Number of Volumes: 3

Publisher: E.S.S. Editorial Service System

Place Published: Rome, Italy

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9788884441812