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Covering the dead in later prehistoric Britain: elusive objects and powerful technologies of funerary performance

Cooper, A., Garrow, D., Gibson, C. and Giles, M. (2019) Covering the dead in later prehistoric Britain: elusive objects and powerful technologies of funerary performance. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 85. ISSN 0079-797X (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

This paper examines the containment and covering of people and objects in burials throughout later prehistory in Britain. Recent analyses of grave assemblages with exceptionally well-preserved organic remains have revealed some of the particular roles played by covers in funerary contexts. Beyond these spectacular examples, however, the objects involved in covering and containing have largely been overlooked. Many of the ‘motley crew’ of pots and stones used to wrap, cover, and contain bodies (and objects) were discarded or destroyed by antiquarian investigators in their quest for more immediately dazzling items. Organic containers and covers – bags, coffins, shrouds, blankets – are rarely preserved. Our study brings together the diverse and often elusive objects that played a part in covering and containing prehistoric burials, including items that directly enclosed bodies and objects, and those that potentially pinned together (now mostly absent) organic wraps. Overall, we contend, wrapping, covering, and containing were significantly more prevalent in prehistoric funerary practices than has previously been recognised.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:84218
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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