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Archaeology of Death Questions
Terms in this set (6)
Where did the archaeology of death originate
Was originated by English archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson, then a professor at the University of Sheffield
How and why have death practices changed through time?
Recently changes in culture and technology have led to new options. A late 20th century alternative is an ecological burial. This is a sequence of deep-freezing, pulverisation by vibration, freeze-drying, removing metals, and burying the resulting powder, which has 30% of the body mass. Alternatively, a green burial is not a new process, but a very old one involving burying the unpreserved remains in a wood coffin or casket, which will naturally decompose, and thus not permanently take up land. A very different option from that is a space burial, which uses a rocket to launch the cremated remains of a body into orbit. This has been done at least 150 times. However, most of these remains are not complete, nor launched permanently into space, due to cost. Two partial permanent space burials are those of astronomer Eugene Shoemaker, a part of whose remains were launched to the moon, and Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered Pluto, part of whose remains travel with the New Horizons spacecraft, which has/will leave the solar system. Other remains have been launched only into earth orbit, and either recovered, or left to be lost.
compare and contrast different periods through time and explain their significances
Rituals change over time
Nowadays, you don't see kings erecting massive tombs to enshrine the dead - the Taj Mahal, built in the 1630s, was probably the last major project built as a tomb or mausoleum. Instead, today's funerals borrow some elements from the past and move on from others.
Early religions often held that the spirits of the dead carried objects with them on their travel to the afterlife, so people would entomb their loved ones with items that could accompany their journey. Today, that tradition is still alive: Family and friends routinely bury or inter the deceased with treasured possessions from life. Similarly, that practice established at least 60,000 years ago - leaving flowers with those who have passed - is certainly prevalent today.
In the U.S., religion plays a role in many funeral traditions, but certainly not all. By and large, families are free to decide how to hold a funeral and inter their loved ones as they deem appropriate.
What methods can archaeologists use to know about death practices? What can we not know?
the method of excavation of burial grounds allows archaeologist to learn more about death practices. The study of bones, teeth, and clothes can allow archaeologists to learn about death practices.
We can not know detection of disease. Detection of disease can be restricted by the fact that few, such as tuberculosis, leprosy, syphilis and arthritis, actually leave traces on the bones. It is also difficult to predict the cause of death from skeleton remains, particularly fatal injuries, as most injuries involving bone leave their mark when the individual has survived and the bone has healed (Molleson, 1981, 26).
Can you identify an individual, burial, and extract meaningful data?
Yes meaningful data can be identified from the burial of an individual.
Social status can also be interpreted from the quality and quantity of grave goods within the graves. The Paracas cemeteries in Peru are unique in the extreme emphasis on textiles as burial offerings. These costumes seem to have played an important part in defining an individual's social category as great attention was paid to the designs and motifs (Dwyer & Dwyer, 1995, 160). An indicator of hereditary wealth may be the presence of rich graves belonging to the young, non-productive members of the society. Other indicators of restricted distribution of wealth may be expressed when only certain individuals have rich objects or a specific kind of object (Shennan, 1975, 284). In the case of the Chinchorro mummies, elaborate treatment of children, as well as women, may suggest identification of a kin-related group based on power and prestige (Rivera, 195, 67). Types of grave goods can also delineate gender status. An unusual example is the aforementioned cemetery at Mokrin, where the majority of grave goods and metal items were contained in graves of females, indicating for Rega symbolic if not actual female control of the metal trade (1996, 240). Care is needed in making such generalisations though, as the offerings may have been burnt before burial or displayed with the person then removed (Ucko, 1969, 266).
3 Revolutions in Human History (and their dates) and how they impact burial practice?
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