The value of funerary remains to inform broader aspects of human relations has long been acknowledged in archaeological research, whether this be the visibility of the dead in shaping the habitation of the living, the desire for distance or proximity to the dead, or the differential treatment of certain social groups. However, too often the material remains themselves become relegated to specialist appendices or separate ‘burial’ chapters which divorce treatment of the dead from consideration of the living both literally and figuratively. Consequently, their potential for integrated interpretation is easily overlooked.
The Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains published in 2009 by Rebecca Gowland and Christopher Knüsel provided a major step towards the reconciliation of the archaeology of death and the archaeology of life. This two day colloquium in Cambridge aims to continue along this path but with a geographical and chronological focus on northwestern Europe during the Late Iron Age and Roman periods. The papers have been arranged thematically in order to focus discussion on specific areas of funerary behaviour;examples include burial at rural sites, commemoration, and ‘deviant’ burials. Our aim is to provide a forum for in-depth discussion on the nature and changing dynamics of relationships between the living and the dead by examining various aspects of mortuary behaviour which pertain to shared cultural experiences, and to explore new ways to promote and advance the profile of mortuary evidence within the wider framework of social archaeology.
The full programme in PDF format is available here.