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date: 14 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on ancestor cults and archaeology. The term ‘ancestor worship’, and to a lesser extent ‘ancestor cults’ carry a lot of baggage linked with evolutionary approaches to religion. In such evolutionary schema ancestor worship was seen as developing from animism and Spencer (1876), for instance, argued that at the root of every religion was ancestor worship. This epistemological background means that ‘ancestor worship’ and ‘ancestor cults’ can become meaningless empty categories ill-advisedly applied to archaeological contexts if caution is not exercised.

Keywords: ancestor worship, archaeology, religion, ancestor cults

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