Death and Dying in the Neolithic Near East

Death and Dying in the Neolithic Near East


By (author) Karina Croucher


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 394 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 218mm x 30mm | 680g
  • Publication date: 7 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199693951
  • ISBN 13: 9780199693955
  • Illustrations note: 45 in text illustrations

Product description

The Neolithic of the Near East is a period of human development which saw fundamental changes in the nature of human society. It is traditionally studied for its development of domestication, agriculture, and growing social complexity. In this book Karina Croucher takes a new approach, focusing on the human body and investigating mortuary practices - the treatment and burial of the dead - to discover what these can reveal about the people of the Neolithic Near East. The remarkable evidence relating to mortuary practices and ritual behaviour from the Near Eastern Neolithic provides some of the most breath-taking archaeological evidence excavated from Neolithic contexts. The most enigmatic mortuary practices of the period produced the striking 'plastered skulls', faces modelled onto the crania of the deceased. Archaeological sites also contain evidence for many intriguing mortuary treatments, including decapitated burials and the fragmentation, circulation, curation, and reburial of human and animal remains and material culture. Drawing on recent excavations and earlier archive and published fieldwork, Croucher provides an overview and introduction to the period, presenting new interpretations of the archaeological evidence and in-depth analyses of case studies. The book explores themes such as ancestors, human-animal relationships, food, consumption and cannibalism, personhood, and gender. Offering a unique insight into changing attitudes towards the human body - both in life and during death - this book reveals the identities and experiences of the people of the Neolithic Near East through their interactions with their dead, with animals, and their new material worlds.


Author information

Karina Croucher is currently completing a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Archaeology with the British Academy, based at Manchester University. Her research has focused on mortuary practices, human bodies, and identities during the prehistory of Southwest Asia anf the Near East.

Review quote

This volume represents a highly refreshing and provocative re-examination of aspects of death and dying within the Neolithic Near East. JENNIE BRADBURY, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, This book represents a new and productive perspective for the archaeology of the Middle East, characterized bu a critical approach to theory and careful consideration of context. Croucher's approach encourages us to be critical of making the orient near, middle or far in relation to Britain , and begins the task of exploring the distinctive features of these ancient cultures in their own right. Ian Hodder, Times Literary Supplement

Table of contents

LIST OF FIGURES ; NOTES FOR READER ; PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ; 1. Introduction: death and dying ; 2. The Neolithic Near East: an overview ; 3. Interpretation and practice ; 4. Plastered skulls, ancestors and the skull cult ; 5. Gender ; 6. Personhood, identity and the dead ; 7. Conclusion ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEX