Smith, M. J., 2005. "Carpe Cadaver": Evidence of Excarnation as a British Neolithic Mortuary Rite. In: TAG 2005 : Theoretical Archaeology Group, 19-21 December 2005, University of Sheffield, England.
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The vast majority of people who lived during the British Neolithic were disposed of after death by means that are not archaeologically visible. A possible funerary rite that may explain the absence of human remains from the period is excarnation. Although such a practice has long been suspected to have been widespread during the period, hard evidence for this rite has been slow to emerge until quite recently. Adlestrop barrow is an earlier Neolithic monument in the Cotswolds, which contained a human bone assemblage with clear evidence for scavenging by large canids, most probably either wolves or domestic dogs. The pattern of damage present on the bones is argued to be consistent with a scenario where scavenging animals were permitted access to corpses for a limited period before the bones were gathered and placed in the monument. Whilst constituting further evidence for the existence of such practices, this assemblage also begs a number of questions. For example, why was effort made to collect these individuals’ bones when those of others may have been left unrecovered? Were the animals responsible wild (as commonly assumed) or could they have been domesticated and how did people view the involvement of these animals in ‘transforming’ the dead during this period?
|Item Type:||Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)|
|Subjects:||History > Archaeology|
|Group:||School of Applied Sciences > Forensic and Biological Sciences|
|Deposited By:||INVALID USER|
|Deposited On:||06 Mar 2009 18:25|
|Last Modified:||07 Mar 2013 15:01|
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