Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East

Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East: Recent Contributions from Bioarchaeology and Mortuary Archaeology

BENJAMIN W. PORTER
ALEXIS T. BOUTIN
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhksx
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  • Book Info
    Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East
    Book Description:

    Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near Eastis among the first comprehensive treatments to present the diverse ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations memorialized and honored their dead, using mortuary rituals, human skeletal remains, and embodied identities as a window into the memory work of past societies.

    In six case studies, teams of researchers with different skillsets-osteological analysis, faunal analysis, culture history and the analysis of written texts, and artifact analysis-integrate mortuary analysis with bioarchaeological techniques. Drawing upon different kinds of data, including human remains, ceramics, jewelry, spatial analysis, and faunal remains found in burial sites from across the region's societies, the authors paint a robust and complex picture of death in the ancient Near East.Demonstrating the still underexplored potential of bioarchaeological analysis in ancient societies,Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near Eastserves as a model for using multiple lines of evidence to reconstruct commemoration practices. It will be of great interest to students and scholars of ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian societies, the archaeology of death and burial, bioarchaeology, and human skeletal biology.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-325-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 Introduction: Bringing Out the Dead in the Ancient Near East
    (pp. 1-26)
    Benjamin W. Porter and Alexis T. Boutin

    Intentional burial—a characteristically human behavior that first occurred nearly 100,000 years ago in the Middle East—is one of the most fundamental acts of commemoration. although some people who lived in ancient Near Eastern societies¹ clearly planned for their funerary treatment prior to their death (e.g., the Egyptian Old Kingdom pyramids at Giza), burial practices were largely decided by the living: how to prepare the body for interment; how to position the body in the burial chamber; what objects to include with the deceased; what ritual acts to perform days, weeks, or even years later. Given the diversity of...

  7. 2 Burying Things: Practices of Cultural Disposal at Late Neolithic Domuztepe, Southeast Turkey
    (pp. 27-60)
    Stuart Campbell, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Rachel Bichener and Hannah Lau

    While burial is often assumed to be an action particularly related to the disposal of the human dead, it is not only human bodies that can be buried, and not all bodies need end as a simple burial in the ground. Instead burial can be a much more complex process, involving a series of actions, agents, objects, and contexts. Through a consideration of things that may buried, the ways in which burial can take place and sometimes the way in which material is not buried, we shed some light on the extent to which burial in the late Neolithic of...

  8. 3 Strange People and Exotic Things: Constructing Akkadian Identity at Kish, Iraq
    (pp. 61-96)
    William J. Pestle, Christina Torres-Rouff and Blair Daverman

    In a volume that seeks to understand ways that humans remember and commemorate the dead, we would be remiss if we did not begin by remembering and commemorating our friend and colleague Donny George Youkhanna. We remember him fondly and dedicate this chapter to his memory.

    Commemoration of the deceased often forms a central element of intentional burial (although see, for example, Conklin [2001], where mortuary treatment is designed to promote forgetting the dead). Through diverse aspects of burial treatment and ceremony, a community not only expresses emotions that accompany the death of one of its members, but also remembers...

  9. 4 Commemorating Disability in Early Dilmun: Ancient and Contemporary Tales from the Peter B. Cornwall Collection
    (pp. 97-132)
    Alexis T. Boutin and Benjamin W. Porter

    In late 1940 and early 1941, Peter B. Cornwall, then a graduate student at Harvard University, conducted an expedition to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. During his travels, he surveyed several sites and, in some instances, excavated burials containing human remains and associated artifacts. In addition to the challenges that most doctoral students face when pursuing a degree, Cornwall had to contend with deafness, which had left him able to speak, but not hear, from a young age. Impressively, the portions of his data that he published aided in relocating ancient Dilmun, a polity that ran along the western...

  10. 5 Bioarchaeological Reconstruction of Group Identity at Early Bronze Age Bab edh-Dhra‘, Jordan
    (pp. 133-184)
    Susan Guise Sheridan, Jaime Ullinger, Lesley Gregoricka and Meredith S. Chesson

    The necessity of removing dead bodies from a habitation setting is important, given the realities of decomposition and putrefaction. However, burial practices go far beyond the needs of hygiene, providing a glimpse of the wider worldview of those performing the rituals (Andrews and Bellow 2006). Inferring what death meant and to whom, and how that was expressed, however, risks projecting modern values on ancient practices (Ashmore and Geller 2005).

    This chapter will explore changes in mortuary practices as sedentism intensified and population size increased at Early Bronze Age (EBA ) Bab edh-Dhra‘ located in modern day Jordan (Figure 5.1). We...

  11. 6 Identity, Commemoration, and Remembrance in Colonial Encounters: Burials at Tombos during the Egyptian New Kingdom Nubian Empire and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 185-216)
    Stuart Tyson Smith and Michele R. Buzon

    Commemoration of individuals through burial provides a critical arena for the negotiation of identities in colonial encounters. Burials at Tombos, an Egyptian colonial community in Sudanese Nubia founded in ca. 1400 BCE, reflect remembrances that vary by sex, class, and chronology. While most individuals commemorated their Egyptian identities, the burials also reflect the cultural entanglements common to colonial encounters that eventually led to the emergence of a new, hybrid identity in the empire’s aftermath. By the Napatan period, ca. 747–600 BCE at Tombos, the landscape in the cemetery was marked by a strong sense of multivocality through commemorations that...

  12. 7 Abandoned Memories: A Cemetery of Forgotten Souls?
    (pp. 217-250)
    Gretchen R. Dabbs and Melissa Zabecki

    The underlying attitude of ancient Egyptians in the commemoration of the dead was one of permanence and persistence of the burial cult as a source of provisions for the dead in the afterlife. Fantastic examples of such are visible in the archaeological record in the form of the pyramids at Giza, mortuary temples at Deir el-Bahri, and tombs in the Valley of the Kings, among many others. Excavations of nonelite cemeteries at sites dating from the pre-Dynastic period (Abydos) through the New Kingdom (Deir el-Medina) demonstrate that while the nonelite population could not hope to mirror the royal and elite...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 251-254)
  14. Index
    (pp. 255-261)