Archive for April, 2010

Next Seminar: “Mortuary Practices and Society”

Mortuary practices have been used as a tool to track changes through time in elite ideologies and local political geographies. Preston (2004) discussed local mortuary practices in order to comment on the level of external influences on Crete during the Final and Post Palatial periods. Mortuary monuments may have functioned as large statements and monumental symbols.

A comparison by Wright (1987) between Shaft Graves and tholos tombs at Mycenae suggests that there were changes in mortuary architecture due to the evolution of society from chiefdom to an early state. Regional differences and different social strategies throughout the same cultural sphere may be traced through a study of mortuary evidence as Voutsaki (1998) showed with the case study of tholos tombs
in Messenia and the Argolid during LH II and LH IIIB. The same monument may well have a different social significance through time.

Changes in mortuary practices that could be due to radical socio-political developments leading to the emergence of a single, central authority may be visible via the archaeological record. Manning (1998) discusses the above issue with material from Maroni Valley in Southern Cyprus during the 14th Century B.C., a very crucial time in the island’s history.

It is even possible to identify distinct styles of burial which reflect different religious traditions, such as a 17th Century A.D. cemetery at Corinth where the remains of 133 individuals indicate a mixing of Christian and Muslim burial practices (Rohn et al. 2009).

The above case-studies, although largely focused on prehistory show the various applications of the study of mortuary evidence available to archaeologists. This seminar, led by Dr. Angelos Papadopoulos (Department of Antiquities, Cyprus), will use the above case studies from a range of chronological periods and geographical regions to address the issues outlined below and discuss their
applicability to all chronological periods.

• Can mortuary practices be used to show social differentiation and stratification between elite
and non-elite groups or are archaeologists are biased from modern perceptions?

• Can we trace cultural influences and wider network patterns through grave-offerings?

• Is it possible to reconstruct social and political processes of a society from the study of tombs
and burials?

If interested in participating please email the IIHSA to request the recommended reading. Seminar will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday 15th April 2010 at the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies (51a Odos Notara).

Please RSVP as spaces are limited: