7,956 research outputs found

    The Punic tombs of the Maltese islands

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    This study analyzes the distribution of the Punic tombs found thus far in various parts of the Maltese Islands. It also discusses the main burial methods and customs which the natives of these islands practiced in the Punic Period.peer-reviewe

    Investigating Social Exclusion in Late Prehistoric Italy: Preliminary Results of the ‘‘IN or OUT’’ Project (PHASE 1)

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    This report presents the preliminary results of the ‘‘IN or OUT’’ Project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort which aims to investigate social exclusion, marginality and the adoption of anomalous funerary rites in late prehistoric Italy. In particular, this contribution explores the incidence and meaning of practices of ritual marginalisation and funerary deviancy in the region of Veneto between the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age period

    Burials of martial character in the British Iron Age

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    The significance of the decision to bury an individual with martial objects during the British Iron Age cannot be overstated. It is a rare subset of funerary practice, conferred upon select individuals. This article examines martial burials, firstly summarising past research, then presenting an overview of martial object classes, and their treatments in funerary practice. There is a particular focus on the Arras Culture of East Yorkshire, which dominates the data due to the highly unusual, almost unique, ritual in which spears appear to have been thrown at the corpse as part of the funeral. The analysis presented here highlights the importance of non-offensive martial objects, and demonstrates that there is much greater diversity in Iron Age martial burial practice than previously recognised

    Animal 'Ritual' Killing: from Remains to Meanings

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    As humans, we interact with our environment and the other species inhabiting it in a variety of ways. Animals not only provide a source of sustenance, but a means for humans to express their social concepts through interaction. The range of human interactions with other species can still be seen in our modern world; such as the use of animal characteristics as metaphors and the humanisation of certain species. Douglas (1990, 33) suggests we think about how animals relate to one another, on the basis of our own relationships. Therefore, human social categories are extended into the animal world. Classical literature can offer examples of this. Aristotle (Politics, 1254b) discussed the similarity between working animals and slaves, which in Roman law were treated together, noting ‘the usefulness of slaves diverges little from that of animals; bodily service for the necessities of life is forthcoming from both’. This entwining of the human and animal worlds was also present in the form of animal sacrifices and Gilhus (2006) has discussed the inventions and developments of such a tradition in depth. Evidence of animal sacrifice is not just limited to the classical world, for example we also have evidence from iconographic depictions from Mesoamerica (Emery 2005), as well as ethnographic observations (Morris 2000, 138). The challenge we face is to use archaeologically recovered faunal data to investigate such social zooarchaeological issues. As the majority of animal remains are of a fragmentary nature, most investigations into social concepts have utilised articulated animal remains. A number of terms have been used when discussing such concepts including animal burials and special animal deposits. However, for this paper the term associated bone group (ABG) has been adopted. Although at first it may appear unimportant, the terminology and language used by archaeologists describing a deposit can greatly influence its interpretation, and importantly, the concepts of other archaeologists. Terms such as ‘special’, to many archaeologists, automatically implies a ritual connotation, similarly ‘burial’, a term utilised mainly for human remains, may conjure images of a ceremonial/ritual event. This is important because within British archaeology the interpretation of these deposits has been stuck in a dichotomy between the ritual and the mundane (Morris 2008a; 2010c). Hill (1995) was also critical of the use of ‘special deposit’ and suggested the term associated/articulated bone group, to remove any connotations. This paper draws on the results of a project that investigated the nature of ABGs in Britain from the Neolithic (c.4000BC) to the end of the late medieval period (c.AD1550). Due to the large time-span it was not possible to investigate every deposit in Britain, therefore just published data from southern England (Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire) and Yorkshire was utilised. The results of the project are discussed in detail elsewhere, along with a complete list of the sites recorded (Morris 2008b; 2010c), therefore a brief overview of the major trends will be discussed here. Further consideration will then be given to the interpretation of these deposits and a biographical method based on the actions used to create the ABG will be considered. Finally the paper will use this approach to discuss the presence of ritual animal killings in the British archaeological record

    ‘Sons of athelings given to the earth’: Infant Mortality within Anglo-Saxon Mortuary Geography

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    FOR 20 OR MORE YEARS early Anglo-Saxon archaeologists have believed children are underrepresented in the cemetery evidence. They conclude that excavation misses small bones, that previous attitudes to reporting overlook the very young, or that infants and children were buried elsewhere. This is all well and good, but we must be careful of oversimplifying compound social and cultural responses to childhood and infant mortality. Previous approaches have offered methodological quandaries in the face of this under-representation. However, proportionally more infants were placed in large cemeteries and sometimes in specific zones. This trend is statistically significant and is therefore unlikely to result entirely from preservation or excavation problems. Early medieval cemeteries were part of regional mortuary geographies and provided places to stage events that promoted social cohesion across kinship systems extending over tribal territories. This paper argues that patterns in early Anglo-Saxon infant burial were the result of female mobility. Many women probably travelled locally to marry in a union which reinforced existing social networks. For an expectant mother, however, the safest place to give birth was with experience women in her maternal home. Infant identities were affected by personal and legal association with their mother’s parental kindred, so when an infant died in childbirth or months and years later, it was their mother’s identity which dictated burial location. As a result, cemeteries central to tribal identities became places to bury the sons and daughters of a regional tribal aristocracy

    Bronze Age moss fibre garments from Scotland – the jury’s out

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    In the light of recent discoveries of early to middle Bronze Age burials with mats and fibrous material in Scotland, for example at Langwell farm and Forteviot, it was deemed timely to re-evaluate earlier finds of this period, several of which were discovered and initially reported on nearly a century ago. As part of this research it was noted that three Bronze Age finds from the old literature were reported as clothing or shrouds made of hair moss (Polytrichum commune). Three of these are reassessed here, with a detailed re-examination of the “hair moss apron” from North Cairn Farm. Technological analysis of this find showed no evidence for the twining previously reported and SEM fibre analysis shows that it is unlikely to be hair moss or indeed Bronze Age. However, there is other evidence for hair moss artefacts from other British Bronze Age and Roman contexts. These suggest it is possible that hair moss fibre was used in Scotland in the Bronze Age, but that the North Cairn Farm fibrous object should no longer be considered among this evidence

    Is the Mesolithic-Neolithic Subsistence Dichotomy Real? New Stable Isotope Evidence from the Danube Gorges

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    The article presents new results of stable isotope analyses made on animal and human bones from the Mesolithic-early Neolithic sites of Lepenski Vir and Vlasac in the Danube Gorges of the Balkans. It reconstructs the food web for the region during these periods on the basis of stable isotope analyses of mammal and fish species found at Vlasac. These results are compared to measurements made on human burials from the two sites. In the light of these new results, the article also discusses interpretations provided by previous isotopic studies of this material. It concludes that great care is required in the interpretation of stable isotope results due to inherent methodological complexities of this type of analysis, and suggests that it is also necessary to integrate stable isotope results with information based on the examination of faunal remains and the archaeological context of analysed burials when making inferences about palaeodietary patterns
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