What can the prevelance, technology and variability of cremation practices reveal about human societies past & present? My latest YouTube video introduces the 2017 edited book Cremation and the Archaeology of Death edited by Jessica Cerezo-Román, Anna Wessman, and Howard Williams.
The fiery transformation of the dead is replete in our popular culture and Western modernity’s death ways, and yet it is increasingly evident how little this disposal method is understood by archaeologists and students of cognate disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In this regard, the archaeological study of cremation has much to offer. Cremation is a fascinating and widespread theme and entry-point in the exploration of the variability of mortuary practices among past societies. Seeking to challenge simplistic narratives of cremation in the past and present, the studies in this volume seek to confront and explore the challenges of interpreting the variability of cremation by contending with complex networks of modern allusions and imaginings of cremations past and present and ongoing debates regarding how we identify and interpret cremation in the archaeological record. Using a series of original case studies, the book investigates the archaeological traces of cremation in a varied selection of prehistoric and historic contexts from the Mesolithic to the present in order to explore cremation from a practice-oriented and historically situated perspective.
Download the book’s Introduction here.
Ducks – mallards – also feature in the video!
I then followed it up with a second video exploring the cumulative and ephemeral architectures and monuments associated with the cremation of the dead. I used a cycle to Gresford church as the environment to discuss it. View it here.