Deadline: 12th July 2019
Archaeologists work with a wealth of mortuary evidence – site-based, artefactual, bioarchaeological and monumental – reflecting the spatial agency of the dead both above- and below-ground. The relationship of the dead to the spatial praxis of the living – necrogeography – is a topic of value to all archaeological periods and places.
Human beings are ‘makers of worlds’, deliberately selecting and choosing places, resources and tools in processes of co-option and construction, resulting not just in creating physical and built architectures, but enfolding the natural world within tangible and intangible narratives of place and dwelling. In many societies, the dead are instrumental to these place-making processes.
The intentional and structured disposal of the dead by humans in places both within living communities and distinct from them (cemeteries) largely sets us apart from other species, and it is these ‘landscapes of disposal’ that can help archaeologists understand the changing notions of connection to place in scalar terms. The citation (re-use) of older places of burial and ancient monuments in processes of claiming and mythmaking can enable people to inscribe new geographies of identity.
Separate spatial disposal can indicate the alienation of individuals from communities at death, while conversely the dead can also become a potent focus for the living in terms of pilgrimage and veneration. Bodies can be dispersed, fragmented and circulated across countries and continents, or play agent roles in funerary theatre designed to unify people, families and communities. The treatment of the dead is intensely culture-specific, but past and present provide ample evidence of the agency of the dead in constructing living notions of space and place.
This volume thus invites contributions that explore the global geographies of death and burial in the past to present. Papers are especially welcome that examine evidence for burial and cemetery locales, grave monuments and markers, cemetery layouts, burial terrains and landscapes and topographic and geographic trends in mortuary evidence, including bioarchaeological data. These could comprise explorations of the cemetery as a performative space, burial and travel, burial visibility or invisibility, ‘ancestral’ landscapes and the dispersal and fragmentation of the dead, trends in monumentality or commemorative regalia, burial as citation or mythmaking, and necrogeographies of and identity, health, wealth and power.