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The Archaeology of AncestorsDeath, Memory, and Veneration$
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Erica Hill and Jon B. Hageman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062518

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062518.001.0001

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The Archaeology of Ancestors

The Archaeology of Ancestors

(p.42) 2 The Archaeology of Ancestors
The Archaeology of Ancestors

Erica Hill

Jon B. Hageman

University Press of Florida

This chapter provides an overview of archaeological approaches to ancestor veneration in the past. Two major works (by Patricia McAnany and Mary Helms) moved the study of ancestors beyond the processual insights of Arthur Saxe and Lynne Goldstein and laid the conceptual foundations for more nuanced and ethnographically informed work of the twenty-first century. The chapter reviews the ways in which archaeologists have identified and studied ancient ancestors in China and Europe, and discusses Whitley’s charge that there are “too many ancestors” in the British Neolithic. Finally, the chapter outlines the kinds of archaeological evidence that have been used to identify ancestors in the archaeological record and to reconstruct the roles of ancestors in past societies. These lines of evidence include funerary remains and burial practices; archaeological features and landscapes; representational imagery; and documentary sources.

Keywords:   ancestors, veneration, archaeology, burial practices, landscape, China, Europe, British Neolithic

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