Considerations on anthropogenic modifications of a corpse: the case of the Lapita burials at Teouma (Vanuatu) [Reflexions sur la transformation anthropique du cadavre: le cas des sepultures Lapita de Teouma (Vanuatu)]

Frederique Valentin, F Alliese, Stuart Bedford, Matthew Spriggs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Funerary treatments affect the course of decomposition of a corpse. Such treatments may involve inhumation or cremation, and sometimes segmentation of the cadaver or the skeleton. At the Lapita site at Teouma (Vanuatu, c. 3000 BP), where 68 funerary contexts have been found, intentional transformations of the deceased were performed at different times during the funerary sequence, using five different kinds of treatment and suggesting the intervention of several different operators. Two main "chaînes opératoires", applied at the beginning and end of the funerary sequence, have been reconstructed. The first involves the dismemberment of the body, as identified by taphonomic analysis, followed by the deposition of the human remains in a pit. The second includes the removal of selected bones from a skeletonized body, followed in some cases by deposition of bones at the cemetery in an elaborate pattern. Analysis of the differences between the funerary contexts suggests that dismemberment was undertaken by specialists while deposition of the body and removal of the bones were carried out by several distinct operators.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-44
    JournalBMSAP Bulletins et memoires de la Societe d'anthropologie de Paris
    Volume28
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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