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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Staff

Publication details for Professor Chris Scarre

Bradbury, Jennie & Scarre, Chris (2017). Engaging with the Dead: exploring changing human beliefs about death, mortality and the human body. Studies in funerary archaeology, volume 13. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Engaging with the Dead adopts a cross-disciplinary, archaeologically focused, approach to explore a variety of themes linked to the interpretation of mortuary traditions, death and the ways of disposing of the dead. Nineteen papers highlight the current vitality of ‘death studies’ and the potential of future research and discoveries. contributors explore changing beliefs and practices over time, considering how modern archaeology, ethnography and historical records can aid our interpretations of the past, as well as considering how past practices may have influenced understandings of death and dying within the modern world. It is clear that there are very significant variations in the quantity of dead that appear in the archaeological record over time, and the contributions to this volume attempt to understand why that might be the case. By bringing together papers from a variety of specialists working within Europe and the Near East, we investigate the pivotal role of death studies in the 21st century, providing a case for the retention of human remains in archaeological collections. Engaging with the Dead aims to set period specific contributions within a broader perspective and integrates papers from bioarchaeologists, theologists, textual specialists, as well as archaeologists. It provides an in-depth introduction to the multitude of ways in which the mortuary record can be interrogated and interpreted and explores the role of archaeology and theology within contemporary social studies. This volume challenges our current understanding and conceptualisation of mortuary practices in the ancient and contemporary world.