Four years ago saw the publication of the Oxford University Press edited collection: Archaeologists and the Dead: Mortuary Archaeology in Contemporary Society. I co-edited the book with Dr Melanie Giles. The launch too place at the University of Chester in November 2016.

Attentive to the fact that it has remained a hardback book that is expensive, and that publications on the ‘public archaeology of death’ have been published since that show little or no engagement with the book’s contents, I decided to use my newly opened YouTube channel as a venue to review and reflect on this collection. Debates regarding how archaeologists conduct research, and engage wider publics, with human remains and mortuary practices rage on and, if anything, have become more intense in the decade since the TAG conference and IFA (now CIfA) conference sessions that first inspired the book, and four years since publication. In particular, digital dimensions of the debates have heated: how do we behave on social media and engage audiences digitally, as well as how do we research digtally in exploring the public understanding and interactions with the archaeological dead? Consequently, I feel justified in revisiting the collection through a pair of videos.

In the first, I outlined the rationale and contents of the book.

In the second, I discuss my particular chapter exploring cremation on display in museums.

The blurb for the Archaeologists and the Dead book is as follows:

This volume addresses the relationship between archaeologists and the dead, through the many dimensions of their relationships: in the field (through practical and legal issues); in the lab (through their analysis and interpretation); and in their written, visual and exhibitionary practice – disseminated to a variety of academic and public audiences. Written from a variety of perspectives, its authors address the experience, effect, ethical considerations, and cultural politics of working with mortuary archaeology. Whilst some papers reflect institutional or organisational approaches, others are more personal in their view: creating exciting and frank insights into contemporary issues which have hitherto often remained ‘unspoken’ amongst the discipline. Reframing funerary archaeologists as ‘death-workers’ of a kind, the contributors reflect on their own experience to provide both guidance and inspiration to future practitioners, arguing strongly that we have a central role to play in engaging the public with themes of mortality and commemoration, through the lens of the past. Spurred by the recent debates in the UK, papers from Scandinavia, Austria, Italy, the US, and the mid-Atlantic, frame these issues within a much wider international context which highlights the importance of cultural and historical context in which this work takes place

The official publication page for the hardback and Kindle editions is here:…

At time of posting, Oxbow books are selling it at a discount:

Download ‘Introduction: Mortuary Archaeology and Contemporary Society’:

Download ‘Firing the Imagination: Cremation in the Modern Museum’: