Living landscapes of the dead: Archaeology of the afterworld among the rumu of Papua New Guinea

David Bruno, Max Pivoru, William Pivoru, Green Green, Bryce Barker, James F Weiner, Douglas Simala, Thomas Kokents, Lisa Araho, John Dop

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    The subject of what governs mortuary practices, and how these relate to social life, is a vast anthropological and archaeological subject in its own right, with a long history. Archaeologists have long been aware that mortuary practices do not simply represent cultural ways of disposing of recently deceased bodies. Mortuary practices and understanding the particular contexts of archaeological human remains may be affected by specifi c circumstances of death and invariably refl ect a variety of social processes, including: 1. varied processes of social power (e.g., King [2004], who argues that early Saxon grave goods acted to establish ongoing relations of social expectation and due between survivors and donors); 2. particular circumstances of death (e.g., Spindler [1994], who suggested that 5, 000 years ago during the Copper Age, Ötzi, “the ice-man, " was a traveling distant villager caught during a severe snow storm on the Schnalstal glacier of the Italian-Austrian Alps and died, soon to be covered by snowfall; or Fleckinger’s [2003] view that Ötzi was an old man who had been fatally injured during a fi ght, only to escape and die in the Schnalstal glacier); 3. political negotiation and contestation (e.g., Pardoe [1988], who argues that cemeteries are an expression of territory-building by member corporate groups calling on the historical hegemony of place); 4. attitudes of social order (e.g., Glob [1969], who argues that [in the main] Iron Age, bog bodies in northern Europe may have been executed criminals ritually sacrifi ced to the goddess of fertility); 5. cosmological understandings (e.g., Greber and Ruhl [1989: 273] who suggest that the archaeological remains at the Hopewell burial site signal an understanding of how the universe operates and how to keep the cosmos in good working order); 6. the social manipulation of psychological states of remembering (e.g., Williams [2005], who in part argues that European Medieval funerary goods, such as weapons, knives, and iron buckles, were biographic aids to remembering past social circumstances, whereas cremation acted to selective forgetting; see also Hallam and Hockey [2001]); and 7. religious beliefs that concern the human soul (e.g., Solecki [1971], who argued that the deliberate burial of Neanderthals at Shanidar Cave in Iraq indicates religious beliefs in a life after death).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Landscape Archaeology
    Editors B. David & J. Thomas
    Place of PublicationWalnut creek, CA, USA
    PublisherLeft Coast Press
    ISBN (Print)9781598742947
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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