how to Disable cut, copy, paste, right click and context menu using Javascript Funerary & Biological Archaeology, Forensic Anthropology, Palaeopathology: February 2014

06 February 2014

EAA 2014 Session Organisation

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Due to the big success of our CAPA-ACAP 2013 Symposium, we are organising a similar session for the 20th EAA Annual Meeting in 2014 at Istanbul (10-14 September).




T06 Retrieving and interpreting the archaeological record

T06S026 The Odd, the Unusual, and the Strange: Human and Animal Deviant Burials and their Cultural Contexts

Names : Anastasia Tsaliki, Tracy Betsinger, Amy Scott Titles : PhD, PhD, MA








 Deviant burials provide an opportunity to gain invaluable insight to cultural constructions of outsiders, non-conformers, or “others” of different kinds. Sometimes, individuals who were viewed as “extraordinary”, either in life or in death, were given unusual burials, reflecting their special status. These burials are identified in the archaeological record by evidence of different or unusual burial rites to those common in the given social group, segregated inhumations/cremations, unexpected burial accompaniments, or alterations to the corpse. While deviant burials are primarily focused on specific individuals within a community, they reflect larger social values of how the living choose to bury the dead and what is considered a deviant or special status within a group. Highlighting deviant burials in a session format would provide a unique opportunity to explore these case studies and the common elements that unite these burials across different geographic and temporal landscapes. We will discuss a variety of cases, from European revenants to mass graves and decapitations in China, showing the challenges they pose towards a careful retrieval and interpretation of the archaeological record, not only through traditional archaeology, but also through a multidisciplinary approach which combines archaeology with biological anthropology, sociology, zoology and environmental science.

 

Paper submission is now closed. We have received loads of interesting papers - thanks to all those who have sent us their abstracts. 


Session programme

ORAL PRESENTATIONS:


1) A DEVIANT “LIFE” AFTER DEATH: THE POSTMORTEM EXISTENCE OF THE UNUSUAL DEAD
AUTHOR/S: Lauren Hosek
SPEAKER: Lauren Hosek

ABSTRACT
As any bioarchaeologist knows, dead bodies can have curiously active postmortem “lives”. Archaeological cases of deviant burials draw attention to the ways in which dead bodies are given agency – in both the past and the present. In this paper, I examine the widespread medieval belief in the active lives of dead bodies through folk traditions, Christian theology, forensic analysis and archaeological evidence. My ongoing dissertation research of an early medieval cemetery in the Czech Republic highlights the perception of the ambulatory dead in the medieval imagination through the treatment of certain “deviant” burials. However, I also draw attention to how the postmortem lives of these particular bodies continue into the laboratory of the present day. Like our medieval counterparts, we see something “different” about these bodies in terms of their location, unusual mortuary practices, or the skeletal remains themselves. We, too, have an uneasy relationship with the unusual dead. They can be difficult to categorize, difficult to interpret and difficult to discuss – often becoming even more “active” when caught up in media attention. The materiality of these bodies, and the materiality of their “deviance” captivates our imaginations (both medieval and modern) and facilitates their movement through time and space.


2) Romano-British deviant practices: decapitation and faunal deposits reconsidered
AUTHOR/S: Shaheen M. Christie
SPEAKER: Shaheen M. Christie

ABSTRACT
Archaeological investigations of Romano-British burials have revealed a variety of burial treatments and attitudes toward the dead. Ambiguous, unusual or differential burial forms have traditionally been interpreted as ‘deviant’. Characteristic features include mutilation of the corpse, prone position, decapitation, and non-normative burial location, among others. Such burials have been viewed as the remains of individuals of low or criminal status; however, a contextual analysis of late Iron Age and Roman practices suggests alternative readings that could shed new light on Romano-British burial rites more generally. This paper will focus on decapitated inhumation burials with associated faunal deposits in central and southern Britain in order to delineate the complex uses and meaning of the presence of animals within the burials. Thought to mainly represent the remains of funeral feasts, a re-examination of the evidence suggests that these deposits may be ritually ‘killed’ objects that in some cases were used to demarcate the presence of valued or revered members of society. This preliminary investigation offers an opportunity to expand our understanding of the larger social context by challenging the assumed negative status of so-called deviant burials while reassessing the nature of deviancy during the 1st – 4th century A.D. in Roman Britain.


3) DEVIANT BURIALS IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND: PATTERNING & PROCESS AT GREAT CHESHTEROFORD
AUTHOR/S: Sarah Inskip, Sonia Zakrzewski
SPEAKER: Sonia Zakrzewski

ABSTRACT
The cemetery of Great Chesterford lies to the southeast of Cambridge in East Anglia. A series of 167 inhumations from 161 Anglo-Saxon graves have been re-examined (for summary, see Inskip 2008). Pathologies not described in the original skeletal report included cases of tuberculosis and leprosy. For an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, the assemblage has a relatively large proportion of juveniles. Some of these juveniles themselves exhibit pathological conditions, such as extreme periosteal reactive bone growth (potentially hypertrophic (pulmonary) osteoarthropathy). The patterning and location of both the pathologies and the juveniles within the cemetery implies the recognition of unusual and anomalous individuals by and within the local community. The entire Great Chesterford cemetery appears to exhibit certain traits that have been typically associated with deviant or abnormal burial practices from the Anglo-Saxon period. These include a higher than normal proportion of infants and young juveniles, burials in unusual body positions, and burials in association with animals such as horses. Such aspects suggest that deviance from Anglo-Saxon burial practice was the norm within this assemblage. This paper discusses aspects of deviance in Anglo-Saxon burial practice and places the unusual aspects of the Great Chesterford cemetery into a wider context.


4) CRY MURDER? THE DISCOVERY OF HUMAN REMAINS IN THE POST-MEDIEVAL MOAT OF THE CITY OF OUDENAARDE, BELGIUM
AUTHOR/S: Katrien Van de Vijver, Ruben Pede, Sigrid Klinkenborg
SPEAKER: Katrien Van de Vijver

ABSTRACT
During excavations in Oudenaarde in 2008, archaeologists discovered human remains in the old city moat. Old maps of ‘De Ham’, where the excavations were carried out, show a relatively open area, bordered by the river Scheldt and by the city wall and moat. Excavations revealed different layers from the period of use of the moat, which contained the remains of minimum four individuals. They are not part of normal funerary depositions, the lack of grave features indicates they were deposited in the moat and later covered by the fill. Two severely disturbed, supine bodies were recovered together. Another was found prone, with the arms crossed behind the back, and one was supine, with one arm across the abdomen and the other flexed outward. The context and position indicates unusual and violent circumstances. The layers are dated in the 16th century, a troubled time for Oudenaarde, with a revolt in the first half and religious troubles in the second half of the century. A combination of the skeletal study, the archaeological context and historical sources may provide an answer as to how and why these bodies ended up at the bottom of the moat.


5) WHO WERE THEY?
AUTHOR/S: Jane Jark Jensen
SPEAKER: Jane Jark Jensen

ABSTRACT
In 2008 the Museum of Copenhagen excavated the northern part of the churchyard belonging to the oldest known church of Copenhagen. The churchyard was in use from around year 1000 and until The Reformation in 1536 when the church was demolished. The burials testify a population which was – at least for the majority, the less prosperous of the people of medieval Copenhagen. The excavation revealed a surprising level of care and unusual arrangements in many of the graves. Up to ¼ of the burials had been arranged in a special manner and these burials had a much more individual setting than most medieval, Scandinavian burials in general. These settings included a number of items: stones, bones, artifacts and organic material. Also a number of graves included an adult with one or more children buried together. The child burials are also to be highlighted. A high number of these were prepared with special care – both when it comes to artifacts and the presentation of the body. Were these special burial costumes an expression of superstition, preparation for the afterlife, regional heritage, a mix or something else? Who were these people that stood out from the other burials at the churchyard?


6) DEVIANT BURIALS IN FINLAND – ARE THERE ANY?
AUTHOR/S: Ulla Moilanen
SPEAKER: Ulla Moilanen

ABSTRACT
My presentation takes a look at inhumation burials of iron age/medieval Finland, starting from the 9th century AD. Most of the cases are previously unpublished, and haven’t been thoroughly studied. I am presenting examples of cases that could be described as atypical, including double burials, peculiar grave-goods or positioning of artefacts. Some of the presented graves are unique in their appearance, but in several cases, comparable counterparts can be found. This raises a question of the definition of deviant or atypical burial, which needs further discussion. The challenges and potential of further studies on the graves are also presented.


7) DEVIANT BURIALS IN EARLY MEDIEVAL POLAND. PAST CONTROVERSIES AND RECENT REVAULATIONS
AUTHOR/S: Leszek Gardela
SPEAKER: Leszek Garela

ABSTRACT
The last decade has seen a growing academic and popular interest in early medieval mortuary archaeology. Several scholars from the UK, Scandinavia and Poland have begun to look more closely at mortuary behaviour which deviated from the norm and involved, for example, pre- or post-mortem decapitation, placing stones on the cadavers or burying the dead in prone position. Over the years these practices have been given various labels in academic literature. In Western and Northern Europe they are often described as ‘atypical’ or ‘deviant’ burials, whereas in Poland a frequently occurring (yet very problematic) term is ‘anti-vampire burials’. When placed in a broader context the reasons for non-normative treatment of the dead appear to have been manifold and diverse – i.e. they may have been the result of popular superstition (fear of revenants), human sacrifice, violent executions, judicial practices or unfortunate accidents. Somewhat strikingly, in some instances they may have even expressed utmost respect towards the dying or the dead. This paper will summarise the preliminary results of a new research project which seeks to explore all deviant burials from the area of early medieval Poland in a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on archaeology, anthropology and folklore.


8) BIOLOGY OR CULTURE? DETERMINANTS OF DEVIANT BURIALS IN POST-MEDIEVAL POLAND
AUTHOR/S: Tracy K. Betsinger, Amy B. Scott, Lesley Gregoricka
SPEAKER: Tracy K. Betsinger

ABSTRACT
Over 300 human burials have been recovered from the 17th-18th century cemetery site of Drawsko 1 in northwestern Poland. Of these, six burials have been identified as non-normative, based on burial inclusions, which barricade the corpse within the grave. This practice has often been cited as anti-vampiristic and related to prevention and fear of revenants. The purpose of this paper is to explore these deviant burials and examine the possible cultural and biological reasons why the individuals received different mortuary treatment. Bioarchaeological analysis was conducted on the skeletal remains to assess patterns of health, including trauma, disease, and stress. The results indicate that there is no biological or health explanation for why the six burials received specialized mortuary treatment, at least based on these skeletal indicators. Cultural explanations are therefore, a more likely basis for these differential mortuary customs. For example, individuals migrating into a community and considered “outsiders” were potentially at greater risk of receiving such burial treatment. Stable isotope analysis is one way in which this can be assessed.


9) SUBADULT FUNERARY TREATMENT IN THE DACIAN CULTURE. AN EXTENDED ANALYSIS OF THE NECROPOLOIS FROM HUNEDOARA – THE CASTLE’S GARDEN PLATEAU (ROMANIA)
AUTHOR/S: Claudia Radu, Norbert Zaeredai, Cecilia Chiriac, Cristian Roman,
Beatrice Kelemen
SPEAKER: Claudia Radu

ABSTRACT
Our study presents the challenges encountered in interpreting the archaeological situation discovered in the necropolis from Hunedoara-The Castle's Garden Plateau (Romania). The funerary assemblage is biritual and contains the burials of 57 individuals, dated between the 4th century BC to the end of the 1st century AD, in the Dacian Period. In contrast to what the demographic profile of a necropolis should look like, 40 of the 57 individuals are subadults, most of them with an age below 7 years. So far, one proposed explanation for the high number of children is that of human sacrifice. Deviant burials must be diagnosed with great caution, as we are dealing with archaeological realities and specific aspects remain hidden during the research. Therefore, we consider that the characteristics of the necropolis from Hunedoara-The Castle's Garden Plateau are subject to more than one explanatory hypothesis. In order to trace back the process that lead to the formation of this assemblage and infer its function, we propose a biocultural approach, in which we make use of archaeological, physical anthropological, genetic and molecular analyses. By correlating the results from these analyses we can produce a more complex picture and extend the explanation for this particular archaeological finding.


10) REMAINS OF HUMAN SACRIFICES IN PIT SANCTUARIES OF THE FIFTH – BEGINNING OF THE THIRD CENTURY BC FROM THRACE
AUTHOR/S: Milena Tonkova
SPEAKER: Milena Tonkova

ABSTRACT
The aim of the study is to present the already numerous examples of discovery of human skeletons in abnormal positions and unusual contexts coming from pit complexes excavated within the territory of Bulgaria. The sites with such characteristic are more than 50. These are big complexes with hundreds of pits, interpreted as pit-sanctuaries. Single pits with human remains have been discovered in almost all of the studied so far similar sites – skeletons in anatomic order and abnormal position: prone, with a head towards the bottom and legs toward the hole of the pit, sitting position, severely bent, etc. The skeletons belong both to children and adults, to men and women. In certain cases there are data for their violent killing in the pit (with thrown stones or slaughtered). Five particular terrain situations from the author’s excavations will be presented here. They were registered in three different sites from the middle course of Maritsa River dated between the fifth and the beginning of the third century BC. These are the pit complexes at Malko Tranovo (350 pits studied), at Gledachevo (150 pits) and Yabalkovo (100 pits). Tremendous amount of fragmented clayware, luxurious bronze vessels, jewellery, coins, animal bones and cult items were discovered in the pits. Human skeletons, all of them in abnormal positions, were found in only few pits (roughly, in one out of every 80). These unusual burials, have been considered as archaeological evidence for the practising of human sacrifice in Thrace.


11) TWO DEVIANT BURIALS OF THE EARLY HELLENISTIC PERIOD FROM HALKA BUNAR, IN SE BULGARIA
AUTHOR/S: Athanasios Sideris, Milena Tonkova
SPEAKER: Athanasios Sideris

ABSTRACT
During a joint excavation project which is ongoing since 2009 in Halka Bunar, SE Bulgaria, an Early Hellenistic site was identified and gradually uncovered. On two sectors of the excavated area there have been located two unusual burials, one containing one male, and the other two female skeletons. They exhibited unusual body positions and were associated with unusual features and artifacts. The situation in both pits is far from what we know of regular burials for the concerned area and time period. The way of death of the buried individuals is not entirely clear. The paper presents in details these burials and examines their connections to several other unusual aspects of the site. Some more considerations, based on the evidence of Greek imported artifacts, are made concerning the Dionysian and Orphic character of the local cult, which seems to favour the hypothesis of a ritual murder or sacrifice. Links to other deviant burials of the same period and region, as well as the literary evidence for human sacrifices in Thrace, will be presented as well.


12) SPECIAL CASES, DEVIANT BURIALS AND CHANGING NORMS: A CASE-STUDY FROM MYCENAEAN GREECE, 1600 BC
AUTHOR/S: Sofia Voutsaki
SPEAKER: Sofia Voutsaki

ABSTRACT
Recent discussions on deviant burials have shed light on funerary ideologies as well as attitudes to deviant groups. However, the discussion sometimes relies on a schematic contrast between normative and deviant burials that does not do justice to the complexity of mortuary practices. This paper explores the grey areas between difference, diversity and deviancy in mortuary practices, especially in periods of socio-cultural change. I shall use the double burial of a man and a woman in tight embrace as a starting point for the discussion. The burial will first be compared with the other interments of the same cemetery (Ayios Vasilios, Laconia) in order to highlight its unique as well as its normative features. It will then be examined within its regional context in order to reconstruct the mortuary traditions of the southern Greek mainland. Finally, it will be placed within its historical context: the early Mycenaean period (1700-1500 BC), a period characterized by innovation in social practices, intensified social change and increased connectivity. The main point made in this paper is that deviance is a relative concept which needs to be examined both diachronically against the local mortuary tradition, and synchronically within a web of interactions and mutual influences.


13) THE ‘VAMPIRES’ OF LESBOS: DETECTING AND INTERPRETING ANTI-REVENANT RITUAL IN GREECE
AUTHOR/S: Sandra Garvie-Lok, Anastasia Tsaliki
SPEAKER: Sandra Garvie-Lok

ABSTRACT
Greece has a well-documented pre-modern tradition of belief in vampires. Because many rituals related to these beliefs centred around the grave, they should be archaeologically visible in the form of burials in which the corpse was treated to dispel a vampire. Although the ethnographic and ethnohistorical records suggest that such altered graves should be fairly common, proposed cases are surprisingly few. In this presentation, we discuss two likely Ottoman-era vampire burials recovered on the island of Lesbos, Greece in the wider context of normative burial practices and vampire ritual. A look at normative burial traditions through documentary and archaeological evidence provides useful insights into what graves of the period should look like, as well as an idea of the cultural meanings of disease, deformity and a corpse’s burial and decay. We then discuss documentary and ethnographic evidence for necrophobic practices in Greece and the physical traces that such burials should leave behind. Discussing the Lesbos burials in this light, we demonstrate the case for considering them to be instances of vampire ritual. We also consider why vampire burials might be under-reported archaeologically and offer some suggestions for their improved detection and study in the future.


14) HUMAN SACRIFICE OR NECORPHOBIC PRACTICES? NEW PERSPECTIVES ON “DEVIANT BURIALS” AND MORTUARY PRACTICES IN PREDYNASTIC EGYPT
AUTHOR/S: Ian Gonzalez
SPEAKER: Ian Gonzalez

ABSTRACT
Recently, researchers have begun to analyse the so-called “deviant burials” in a whole new direction, aiming to find new options of explanation, like the concept of “fear of the dead” This new way of thinking funerary and mortuary practices made us ask the question if it was possible to translate this new approach on the case of Predynastic Egypt. Indeed, this archaeological period is known for very destructive mortuary practices, involving wrapping and padding of the dead, destruction of parts of the human body, and even decapitation in some rare cases. Taking a whole new interpretation on the subject, we are able to suggest an alternative enlightenment to the regular arguments given by Egyptologists. In fact, some practices explained as ritual mortification or human sacrifice, can be seen as ceremonials to prevent the dead to harm the living. Most of the most mysterious cases of deviant burials seen at Adaïma or Hierakonpolis can be clarified. The treatment of the cadaver can also give arguments on this way, like the body contention, giving information about the new concept of necrophobic practices.

15) DISTINCTIVE IN DEATH: THE BIOARCHAEOLOGY OF NON-NORMATIVE MORTUARY BEHAVIORS AT ÇATALHöYüK, TURKEY
AUTHOR/S: Joshua W. Sadvari, Scott D. Haddow, Christopher J. Knüsel, Clark
Spencer Larsen, Selin E. Nugent
SPEAKER: Joshua W. Sadvari

ABSTRACT
Çatalhöyük is most well-known for its Neolithic occupation but also served as a cemetery during the Roman period and currently stands as a prominent landmark overlooking the nearby village of Küçükköy. Throughout these occupations, Çatalhöyük is distinctive as a place for both the living and the dead. As bioarchaeologists, we seek to use our knowledge of the latter to better understand the former. Viewing Çatalhöyük through the lens of mortuary archaeology can advance this understanding, as we find examples of non-normative burial practices during each of these chronologically disparate periods (the prehistoric, historic, and recent past), practices which inform us about the “others” buried in non-normative ways and the living members of the communities that carried out these interments. This paper discusses several examples of non-normative burials at Çatalhöyük, including burials characterized by unusual grave inclusions, body treatments, and locations in the Neolithic, a double burial with an atypical grave orientation in the Roman period, and the lone twentieth century burial of a woman from Küçükköy. In unique ways, these burials enhance our understanding of status and identity construction within a community, ostracism from a community, and the power of social memory across the distant and not so distant past.


16) “NON-NORMATIVE” VS. “NORMATIVE” BURIALS OF NEOLITHIC ÇATALHöYüK
AUTHOR/S: Başak Boz
SPEAKER: Başak Boz

ABSTRACT
Çatalhöyük is known for its intramural burial practices. The burials were mainly interred within the houses, under the platforms and floors in flexed positions. Although multiple burials seem to be well represented due to the later disturbances, the norm is primary, single burials. However, many burials have been found at the site that differ from the rest and are unique in their own right. In this paper, four cases from the same site will be discussed. Three of these examples have been broadly categorized as “special” in a positive way such as having an important place in the society to deserve such treatment. One case, on the other hand, was special in a negative way, based on where a particular individual was found and their possible physical appearance as a result of disease. In the light of these burials, it will be addressed whether “ normative” and “non-normative” burials can be justifiably defined.


17) “EXTRAORDINARY” BURIALS AS AN ATTRIBUTE OF INTERACTION BETWEEN SRUBNAY AND ANDRONOVSKY POPULATION OF THE LATE BRONZE AGE IN THE SOUTHERN TRANSURALS
AUTHOR/S: T.A. Leonova, I.A. Shuteleva, N.B. Shcherbakov
SPEAKER: Nikolai Shcherbakov

ABSTRACT
The Late Bronze Age in the Southern Transurals (Beta Analytic: 1890 – 1750 BC) is characterized by uniformity of obsequies of barrow burials and Srubnaya culture settlements. In the Urshak river basin having area of 23,4 km2,a micro-district was identified which contained great quantity of “extraordinary” burials. There is a group of 5 settlements and 4 barrow burials here. In the biggest settlement varied anthropologic material was found out. In the mound of the settlement there was a grave of a child (1,2-1,5 years old). In the mound they also found out a grave of an adult couple, a man (30 – 35 years old) and a woman (50 – 59 years old) (Caucasoid and Mongoloid types). In 4 barrow burials 16 barrows were investigated and 31 burials were identified. 4 out of 7 “extraordinary” burials contain stone cysts, buried skulls and horse legs, and 1 cenotaph. Such burials and Mongoloid features are “extraordinary” for Caucasoid Srubnaya population. Radiocarbon dating, paleopedology and technical and process analyses of ceramics applied, proved chronological unity of these barrows and settlements. This may mean either “extraordinary” social status of the dead, or signs of impact of Andronovskaya, Alakul population of Transurals and Kazakhstan.


18) NONTRADITIONAL BURIAL PRACTICES IN CHINA AND MONGOLIA
AUTHOR/S: Christine Lee
SPEAKER: Christine Lee
AFFILIATION: University of South Florida

ABSTRACT
The majority of the 5000 years of burials in China and Mongolia are single extended internments or familial groups. However, there are several instances of unusual burial patterns. In Central Mongolia one cemetery contains mostly infant remains. Paleopathological analysis showed the infants were either stillborn or had suffered serious infections. In northeastern China, a burial complex consisted of one central male, 20 female attendants, and one beheaded male. The beheaded male was left in the doorway. Central China has several examples of mass graves dating to periods of upheaval. At one site, several individuals were killed and thrown into a well. Dental analysis showed the males were probably from the same family. Another burial dates to one of the pivotal battles in the formation of the first Chinese Empire. All of the young men had multiple arrows embedded in their backs, and were beheaded. In southern China there are secondary internments, with up to 22 individuals. These skeletons were defleshed and gathered before being reburied. Finally in northwestern China, there is evidence of several individuals who may have been bound and buried alive in familial tombs.


19) DISARTICULATION OF THE DEAD AS FUNERARY RITUAL: THE CASE OF JOMON PERIOD IN EASTERN JAPAN
AUTHOR/S: Takeshi Ishikawa
SPEAKER: Takeshi Ishikawa

ABSTRACT
In the Japanese prehistoric eras, there are unusual inhumations in which parts of the body were disarticulated and/or secondary removed. This unusual postmortem treatment has been examined in terms of the ritual meaning, mainly using the skeletal remains from Western Japan. Because of the inclination of the examined area, situation of the eastern Japan is unclear although there are a large number of skeletal remains especially of the Jomon Period. This paper examines unusual skeletal arrangements seen in the samples of the Middle and Late Jomon Period in the Eastern Japan. The postmortem disarticulation is seen in multiple body parts. The cranium and lower limb were disarticulated in many cases among the sample and in one case these were removed to somewhere else after disarticulation. Most of the individual primary burials are estimated to be disarticulated in the vicinity of the inhumation, though in a few cases buried in the discarded houses graves certain body parts were disarticulated after being decomposed in a certain degree but not completely skeletonized. From these observations, the part of treatments of the dead and its religious meaning will be argued.


20) ANCESTOR AND SPECIAL STATUS AS SEEN FROM BURIAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD: A CASE STUDY FROM MANIHINA, UA HUKA ISLAND (MARQUESAS ARCHIPELAGO)
AUTHOR/S: Pascal Sellier
SPEAKER: Pascal Sellier

ABSTRACT
If special status individuals should have unusual burial, this case study from Manihina site (Marquesas Archipelago) is of meaningful evidence. It is part of an ancient funerary site, dated 15th century AD, that is far before the first discovery of Ua Huka Island by the Europeans (in 1791). Around 40 human burials have been so far excavated together with pig and dog burials. This one is a complete “secondary burial”, with the whole skeleton of an elderly male individual, together with few rare ornaments (unique among the other graves). This practice stands at the very end of a long and compound burial process: It is the final result of a whole mortuary “chaîne opératoire”, which is quite rare to be evidenced within the archaeological record. The archaeo-anthropological observations lead to reconstruct a small (probably wooden) box, with all the dislocated bones in it, on the top of which stood a trophy-skull (the cranium and mandible of the subject himself). It should have been an impressive and ostentatious show of this special individual. In that way, it cannot be seen as a deviant funerary practice but more probably as an extraordinary way of turning the dead into an ancestor.


CAPA-ACAP 2013 Symposium organisation


CAPA-ACAP 2013 Symposium 

 

 

Dr Tracy Betsinger, Amy Scott and myself have been delighted with the success of our co-organised Symposium for the 41st CAPA/ACAP Annual Meeting hosted by The University of Toronto Scarborough from Thursday October 17 to Sunday October 20, 2013. 

 

The Odd, the Unusual, and the Strange: Human Deviant Burials and their Cultural Contexts



Deviant burials provide an opportunity to gain invaluable insight to cultural constructions of outsiders, non-conformers, or “others” of different kinds. Sometimes, based on religious beliefs or other social factors, individuals who were viewed in life or death as extraordinary, separate from or outside of the social group were given unique burials, reflecting the deceased’s otherness or special status. These burials are identified in the archaeological record by evidence of different or unusual burial rites to those common in the given social group, segregated inhumations/cremations, unexpected burial accompaniments, or alterations to the corpse. Evidence of deviant or non-normative burials has been documented in a variety of geographic locations and temporal periods, which will be reflected in this session. The allure of deviant burials and their larger social meaning is tied to our archaeological understanding of how the living choose/feel obligated to bury the dead and the social values imprinted on these specific burials. While non-normative burials are primarily focused on specific individuals within a community, the social values that help construct deviant status after death is arguably reflective of larger social norms and beliefs. From this then, deviant burials provide a unique opportunity to: 1) explore the specific burial context of certain individuals within a community and 2) highlight the social values or social constructions of identity after death through various mortuary treatments.

Sunday October 20th morning

8:30-9:00 Presentation set-up

9:00 Betsinger, T.K., Scott, A.B., and A. Tsaliki
The evolution of the unknown: deviant burials and archaeological interpretations


9:15 Garvie-Lok, S. 

A journey Into bone: detecting and interpreting ‘vampire’ burials in Byzantine and Ottoman Greece

9:30 Hosek, L. 

Postmortem wanderings: a bioarchaeology of Early Medieval revenants

9:45 Kendall, C. and A.Roddick
Interpreting deviant burials in the ancient Andes


10:00 Congram, D. and R. Kosalka
What and who is deviant in Bosnia-Herzegovina; discerning culture and intent at burial sites from armed conflict


10:15 Liston, M.A. 

Burial and social deviance in ancient Athens

10:30-11:00 Coffee Break

 
11:00 Meyers, K. 

From deference to deviance: changing burial patterns in Anglo-Saxon England

11:15 Reusch, K. 

Castrate burials: normal, deviant, other?

11:30 Sadvari, J.W., Haddow, S.D., Knüsel, C.J., Larsen, C.S., and S.E. Nugent
Unearthing the unusual: a record of non-normative mortuary behaviors at
Çatalhöyük, Turkey


11:45 Discussion



FULL PROGRAM BOOK with ABSTRACTS HERE