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Religious Studies
Sherry Smith

RELIG ST 2N03- January 13 th Perspectives on Death: Cultural and Historical - Cultural environment shapes our response to death - Picture: o Cliff hanging coffins o Bones fall - Ethnocentrism: o The belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture o A tendency to view others or cultures from the perspective of one’s own o Culture is not simply defined by ethnicity, variation within each ethnic group o Meanings people attach to a particular cultural identity varies o Adopt or adapt aspects of cultures to ones perspectives o Might make judgements about various types of body disposal - Traditional cultures o Death=status change  Not an end  Transition from land of living to world of dead  Human concern for dead predates human history o Atapuerca in northern spain  First evidence of funerary behaviour  300 000 yrs ago  Cave  Sima de los huesos- pit of bones  Located at bottom of 33 ft chimney  Beginning in 1997, excavation team has located more than 5500 bones dating 350 000 yrs ago  28-32 human skeletons found here  Which is why its said to be a mortuary site  May represent the process of burial by the inhabitants of the cave • Dead bodies are moved away  Competing theory: • Lack of small bones • Bones just washed into the pit naturally o Europe- upper Paleolithic period  Recognized as intentional burials  Accompanied by personal effects, manufactured objects  In some the bodies are stained with red okre and put in fetal position • Maybe symbolizes rebirth  Staining body with colour of blood- revitalizes it  Neanderthal burials: instruments, food buried with dead • Items could be useful in other realm  Neolithic burial site of catalhoyuk • No skull  Double grave in schipluiden • Lower rhine region  Multiple graves can represent a single deposition or multiple  In a case of a single grave, were placed in grave simultaneously, you can tell from pattern of bones  First bones suggested violent death  “lovers of valdaro” • Buried at same time • Huddled together, entwined, face to face • Dates back to Neolithic period • Not the only one to contain only one person • Pose is unique • Experts examined bones, man and woman no more than 20 yrs old, and were about 5’2 • 25 miles south of burial site, is city of Verona.  Burial of teviec • On island west of Brittany • 2 women who died violently, but were also given very elaborate funeral rites • Under antlers, and have shell necklaces o Causes of death  Traditional societies embrace ecological orientation for cause of death • Ex: how moon looked or wind howled  Might look at behavioural exces
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