Cremation and the Archaeology of Death

ISBN : 9780198798118

Jessica Cerezo-Roman; Howard Williams; Anna Wessman
368 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2017
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The fiery transformation of the dead is replete in our popular culture and Western modernity's death ways, and yet it is increasingly evident how little this disposal method is understood by archaeologists and students of cognate disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In this regard, the archaeological study of cremation has much to offer. Cremation is a fascinating and widespread theme and entry-point in the exploration of the variability of mortuary practices among past societies. Seeking to challenge simplistic narratives of cremation in the past and present, the studies in this volume seek to confront and explore the challenges of interpreting the variability of cremation by contending with complex networks of modern allusions and imaginings of cremations past and present and ongoing debates regarding how we identify and interpret cremation in the archaeological record. Using a series of original case studies, the book investigates the archaeological traces of cremation in a varied selection of prehistoric and historic contexts from the Mesolithic to the present in order to explore cremation from a practice-oriented and historically situated perspective.


1: Introduction: Archaeologies of Cremation, Howard Williams, Jessica I. Cerezo-Román, and Anna Wessman

Part 1: Relational Fiery Technologies
2: Cremation and the Use of Fire in Mesolithic Mortuary Practices in North-West Europe, Amy Gray Jones
3: Rediscovering the Body: Cremation and Inhumation in Early Iron Age Central Europe, Katharina Rebay-Salisbury
4: Two of a Kind: Conceptual Similarities between Cremation and Inhumation in Early Anglo-Saxon England, Ruth Nugent
5: Fiery Technology' and Transformative Placemaking: A Contextual Examination of a 'Crematory' at the Aztalan Site in Wisconsin, Lynne Goldstein
6: Interpretation of Burned Human Remains: Lessons from Modern Forensic Case, Douglas H. Ubelaker

Part 2: Transforming and Commemorating with Cremation
7: Pathways for the Dead in the Middle and Late Bronze Age in Ireland, Gabriel Cooney
8: Building by Stone and Bone: Handling Cremated Remains in Late Bronze Age Sweden, Anna Röst
9: From Life to Death: Dynamics of Personhood in Gallo-Roman Funeral Customs, Luxemburg Province, Belgium, Jessica I. Cerezo-Román, Koen Deforce, Denis Henrotay and Wim Van Neer
10: Building for the Cremated Dead: Ephemeral and Cumulative Constructions, Anna Wessman and Howard Williams

Part 3: Space and Time in Cremating Societies
11: The Emergence of Cremations in Eastern Fennoscandia: Changing Uses of Fire in Ritual Contexts, Jarkko Saipio
12: Land of the Cremated Dead: On Cremation Practices in Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Scandinavia, Lise Harvig
13: Come Rain or Shine? The Social Implications of Seasonality and Weather on the Cremation Rite in Early Anglo-Saxon England, Kirsty E. Squires
14: The Contemporary Archaeology of Urban Cremation, Howard Williams and Anna Wessman

About the author: 

Jessica Cerezo-Roman is a College Fellow and Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University. She also wroks as a bioarchaeologist consultant for the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Centro INAH Sonora, Mexico. She completed her PhD at The University of Arizona in 2014.; Anna Wessman is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki and archaeologist and educator at the Espoo City Museum. Her PhD, entitled Death, Destruction and Commemoration which traced ritual activities in Finnish Late Iron Age cemeteries (AD 550-1150), was completed at the University of Helsinki in 2010.; Howard Williams is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester. His research interests focus on medieval, post-medieval and contemporary mortuary archaeology, archaeologies of memory, and the history of archaeology. Howard has published over 80 book chapters and journal articles as well as edited books, including most recently Archaeologists and the Dead (OUP, 2016). He is author of the monograph Death and Memory in Early Medieval Britain (CUP, 2006).

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