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Death and Dying in the Neolithic Near Eastby Karina Croucher
Synopses & Reviews
The Neolithic of the Near East is a period of human development which saw fundamental changes in the nature of human society. It is traditionally studied for its development of domestication, agriculture, and growing social complexity. In this book Karina Croucher takes a new approach, focusing on the human body and investigating mortuary practices - the treatment and burial of the dead - to discover what these can reveal about the people of the Neolithic Near East.
The remarkable evidence relating to mortuary practices and ritual behaviour from the Near Eastern Neolithic provides some of the most breath-taking archaeological evidence excavated from Neolithic contexts. The most enigmatic mortuary practices of the period produced the striking 'plastered skulls', faces modelled onto the crania of the deceased. Archaeological sites also contain evidence for many intriguing mortuary treatments, including decapitated burials and the fragmentation, circulation, curation, and reburial of human and animal remains and material culture.
Drawing on recent excavations and earlier archive and published fieldwork, Croucher provides an overview and introduction to the period, presenting new interpretations of the archaeological evidence and in-depth analyses of case studies. The book explores themes such as ancestors, human-animal relationships, food, consumption and cannibalism, personhood, and gender.
Offering a unique insight into changing attitudes towards the human body - both in life and during death - this book reveals the identities and experiences of the people of the Neolithic Near East through their interactions with their dead, with animals, and their new material worlds.
About the Author
Karina Croucher is currently completing a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Archaeology with the British Academy, based at Manchester University. Her research has focused on mortuary practices, human bodies, and identities during the prehistory of Southwest Asia anf the Near East.
Table of Contents
List of figures
Notes for reader
Preface and acknowledgements
1. Introduction: death and dying
2. The Neolithic Near East: an overview
3. Interpretation and practice
4. Plastered skulls, ancestors and the skull cult
6. Personhood, identity and the dead
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