Overview of Mortuary Practices
Greek and aztec practice- buried with a small dog to bring with them to the afterlife.
Burial practices provides insight into how people lived at the time and their beliefs about
Most museum artifacts are from burial contexts
Mortuary architecture- pyramids of Giza, built in the lifetime of the Pharaoh, massive
amount of labour controlled by the state providing info about the ability to control labour
and ideas behind mentality.
Chiefdom level is when monumentality starts- has to do with how much power a political
figure can exert.
Pyramids of Giza- see a progression of engineering and architecture techniques(starting
with the ‘step pyramids’) as well as progression of control of labour.
Angle of the pyramids was the perfect angle for the ascent into heaven-mathematical
and architectural ideas working together with religion
Evidence of mummification- preservation of the dead. Removing internal organs, brain
had no purpose. Different formulas for packing the bodies with herbs, spices, cloths and
Mummies were believed to have medicinal properties for long life and virility- there was a
trade for mummy parts in europe in the 1700s.
Mummification was not exclusive to the elite- other classes of society had similar rituals
not to the same elaborate degree- there have been thousands of mummified individuals
Terracotta Warriors of China- farmers found a hollow dome filled with ceramic figures
representing and army, reveals facts about social order within the military. Each of these
sculptures was individualized, not one mold to make all of the sculptures (ethnic and
Temple of the Inscriptions- mesoamerican pyramid- similar to the pyramids of Giza, built
as a mortuary temple. Most mesoamerican pyramids were not used for mortuary
practices- they were used for worship in the upper temples, there are some sacrificial
burials. Used as a large propaganda piece for the leader, Pakal. In modern day Mexico.
In 1950s a large stone slab was discovered, leading to the discovery of a staircase
inside the pyramid leading to a burial chamber, with a sarcophagus containing Pakal,
with elaborate carving of a world tree deriving from Pakal himself. Pakal is found in a
reclining position, same position as the astronauts in the early space missions. The
skeleton itself was identified as middle aged man approx 35. This is contrasted by the
hieroglyphic texts that suggest he was quite elderly, he had been around a long time and
observed many astronomic events. The skeleton has been re-appraised as more elderly.
Monte Alban Tomb 7- located in southern highlands of Mexico. In Oaxacan Valley,
Monte Alban is just above modern city of Oaxaca, it was situated there so that everyone
could see it, and it could see everybody. It was abandoned and the ceremonial center
was abandoned. Carved bones and carved stone vessels in the same style as the
painted manuscripts. The ridgetop was modified to create different mounds. Beneath the
floors of the palace were elaborate tombs. The seventh tomb is the one where they
found an enormous quantity of precious objects. Located in the patio structure of the
royal palace, initially used for inhabitants and then repurposed in the late post-classic
period to create a religious shrine. Alfonso Caso- first person to discover tomb 7, it was a
race For Caso to collect the goods before the archaeologists could get them. They
identified nine individuals in the tomb from the post-classical period, skeletal remains
scattered about. One individual in the smaller part of the tomb was in better conditions,
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