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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mortuary rituals, as culturally learned and reproduced practices, emerge among prehistoric hunters and gatherers and persist as a key component of human cultures through time. This article takes a closer look at the phenomenon by discussing how mortuary practices articulate with cosmology and world view in general, and how we see this phenomenon emerge over the course of human evolution. These theoretical considerations provide an introduction to a case study of mortuary practices among Mesolithic hunters-gatherers in northern Europe. The purpose of the case study is to explore the many ways in which the treatment of the dead was part of both creating and giving form to a hunter-gatherer cosmology, taking into consideration both observations from the larger cemetery sites that have long dominated discussions of hunter-gatherer cosmology and mortuary ritual, and also more recently explored finds that highlight other ways of disposal of human remains.

Keywords: death, ritual practice, shamanism, animal-human relationships, place

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