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date: 05 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores patterns and variations in how Neolithic bodies were presented and represented in Britain, Ireland and northern France, and how these changed through time. The evidence for mortuary practices and figurative art are reviewed, with special attention to the concept of bodily integrity. A wide range of bodily transformations following death are discussed including cremation, single and collective burial, practices that left the dead intact in graves, and acts that successively ‘processed’ the remains of the dead. Also highlighted is the wide range of locales used for formalized human burial, including cemeteries, chambered tombs, unchambered long mounds, causewayed enclosures, henge monuments, rock-cut tombs, caves, and flint mines. The authors examine relationships between mortuary practices and architecture, and between bodily transformation and personal identity, before exploring the more restricted evidence for figurative representation of bodies and body parts in wood, bone, chalk, flint and stone. Ideas about death, the dead, and ancestry are considered, as is the use of objects, places, and non-human bodies as metaphors through which human bodies were conceptualized. The authors conclude that the interplay between ‘whole’ and ‘partial’ bodies was important in negotiating different identities, experiences, and interactions.

Keywords: Neolithic Britain, Ireland and northern France, bodies, body parts, mortuary practices, figurines, stelae, burial, cremation, tomb, ancestors, identity

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