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Prehistory: death an burial in Iron Age - Essay Example

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The present paper is being carried out to study the concept of death, agency and burial during the various periods of the Iron Age. For this purpose, four relevant articles pertaining to the subject under consideration have been analyzed and reviewed…
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Prehistory: death an burial in Iron Age
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Download file to see previous pages 142). Therefore, as Gansum states, the significance of this belief to archaeologists is that if people in the Iron Age acted according to such beliefs, then they may have probably organized their material world based on this framework. Thus, studying these beliefs will enable a proper understanding of their material world. A study of the Icelandic literature from the Iron Age indicates that people believed that dead creatures were able to do things on their own and that they had to be killed again to restore social order. Moreover, the living worshipped their dead ancestors. This reinforces the fact that people believed that the dead were able to manifest in the lives of the living and had an active role in society (Gansum 2008). A study of the literature from an archaeologist’s point of view suggests that people in the Iron Age paid little attention to burials and more to the agency of death. Their stories and sagas indicate that graves were opened several times and so, graves were more of a “dynamic ritual place” (Gansum, 2008, p. 143). According to their perspectives, the dead were always in opposition to the living and worked in order to gain their territory over the living. There was thus a constant fight between the dead and the living. Several instances, wherein, the living had to enter graves in order to “fight dead men” and kill them have been recorded in their literature. Archaeological literature has documented several bodies that appear to have been exposed to violence several times. Skeletal remains of cremated bones in the Iron Age show visible cut-marks, making it apparent that they were “ritually killed” more than once (Gansum, 2008, p. 143). Another common practice among the people of the Iron Age...
The paper tells that the study of graves and burial rituals has emerged as an integral part of archaeology. This is because graves and burials hold the key to innumerable details about the culture, beliefs, traditions, and perceptions of the people they belong to. A study of grave customs, therefore, offers a window into the people’s differing perceptions of death, apart from providing an insight into their actual lives and traditions. While each of the four articles discussed in the paper concerns the concept of death, agency and ritualistic practices, a common line of thought connects them all. All these articles describe the importance of the study of graves, burial rituals and concepts of death among people in order to better understand their history and way of life. Gansum takes a unique approach towards the study of the prevalent concept of death among the communities of the Iron Age. He states that as an archeologist, he would view the concept of the dead in a different perspective, i.e. rather than studying a dead body as a corpse, he would study it as another entity capable of agency. He also challenges the traditional concept of grave, stating that a grave need not necessarily be a burial place for a body as a whole. For instance, archaeologists have unearthed many graves that contain incomplete bone deposits. Similarly, Fahlander and Oestigaard also state that certain graves, cenotaphs, have been found that do not contain any body at all. Therefore, the traditional concept of grave has been challenged by the study of graves of the Iron Age. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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