Review: The Archaeology of Death and Burial by Mike Parker Pearson (2003) Assessment 8 out of 10

Wonderful, goes beyond Archaeology to provide a history of attitudes to death.

Whilst discoveries have continued since its publication, this book remains a wonderful text. Its goes beyond archaeology to provide a history of attitudes to death and burial. There is so much here. To what extent do changing funerary rituals reveal social structure or changing religious beliefs?

Studies of body remains tells something about the deceased. Is tattooing a mark of high status or oppositional identity? As ever, it will depend on the context of the remains.

The dead do not bury themselves, funerary remains therefore tell as much, if not more about the mourners, as the dead.

There is a universality of denial of death. Do grave goods indicate belief in the after-life or celebration of the deceased’s life?

Since the 18th century in the West death has been prettified, moving away from the realism of putrefaction and decay, with cemeteries sited in marginal ex-urban localities. Cremation represents opposition to the euphemistic death. Cenotaphs are discussed, monuments to the dead without a body

Highly recommended

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