Since prehistoric times, the Near East has been marked by different types of funerary depositions and cults of the dead. Scholars have usually investigated one specific subject or period without attempting to classify the different types of archaeological remains of funerary customs (e.g., extramural cemeteries, residential graves, monumental tombs, etc.) or written sources associated with the cult of the dead (e.g., the cult of the ancestors or of the souls of the dead). Thus, this contribution will attempt to propose a classification of the types of archaeological remains and written records associated with the funerary domain from prehistoric periods until the Neo-Assyrian in order to establish canons of funerary customs throughout the history of the ancient Near East and define for each period the most common types of funerary practice. In particular, the article will focus on three important aspects that can be identified in the archaeological record and also in written sources: the use of skeletal remains to construct the identities of communities during prehistoric periods; the use of funerary practices as a discourse of power by the emerging elites during the third millennium BC; and, finally, the importance of residential graves and the cult of the ancestors in the process of reinforcing family lineages in both elite and non-elite groups between the third and first millennia BCE. In conclusion, this contribution will focus on defining the canon of funerary archaeology in the Near East using specific case-studies that will help the reader to visualize the transformation of funerary practices in relation to changes in social, economic and cultural domains that occurred among the societies that inhabited this wide region since prehistoric times.

Defining the Canon of Funerary Archaeology in the Ancient Near East

Laneri N
Primo
Conceptualization
2020

Abstract

Since prehistoric times, the Near East has been marked by different types of funerary depositions and cults of the dead. Scholars have usually investigated one specific subject or period without attempting to classify the different types of archaeological remains of funerary customs (e.g., extramural cemeteries, residential graves, monumental tombs, etc.) or written sources associated with the cult of the dead (e.g., the cult of the ancestors or of the souls of the dead). Thus, this contribution will attempt to propose a classification of the types of archaeological remains and written records associated with the funerary domain from prehistoric periods until the Neo-Assyrian in order to establish canons of funerary customs throughout the history of the ancient Near East and define for each period the most common types of funerary practice. In particular, the article will focus on three important aspects that can be identified in the archaeological record and also in written sources: the use of skeletal remains to construct the identities of communities during prehistoric periods; the use of funerary practices as a discourse of power by the emerging elites during the third millennium BC; and, finally, the importance of residential graves and the cult of the ancestors in the process of reinforcing family lineages in both elite and non-elite groups between the third and first millennia BCE. In conclusion, this contribution will focus on defining the canon of funerary archaeology in the Near East using specific case-studies that will help the reader to visualize the transformation of funerary practices in relation to changes in social, economic and cultural domains that occurred among the societies that inhabited this wide region since prehistoric times.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/373874
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact