A holistic approach to understanding mortuary practices in Early Neolithic Southern Britain

Ward, Katharine (2022). A holistic approach to understanding mortuary practices in Early Neolithic Southern Britain. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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Early Neolithic mortuary assemblages are our best evidence for understanding the society and culture from this period. This subject has a long history of investigation and debate, mostly focused on assemblages from monumental contexts such as chambered tombs, long mounds, and more recently causewayed enclosures. In contrast, this study encompasses the whole scope of mortuary practices and variation within Early Neolithic features including those found in non-monumental contexts such as pit features as well as individuals who are not present in the archaeological record, known as the ‘absent dead’.
This is achieved through a comprehensive review and comparison of all Early Neolithic features within Wiltshire County. The spatial patterns, chronology, and individual identities are considered across all site categories to interpret the specific mortuary processes represented at individual sites as well as in the whole study sample. Possible processes which might result in extant mortuary assemblages, as well as those applied to the absent dead are considered in detail.
A presence and absence case study has been undertaken in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and around Salisbury to demonstrate the breadth of modern large-scale archaeological investigation compared to known and recovered Early Neolithic features, especially those containing human remains. This exercise suggests the lack of both extant Early Neolithic features and corresponding skeletal remains is genuine, suggesting empirically for the first time the selectiveness and exclusiveness of monumental burial during the Early Neolithic.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13098


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