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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeologists have generally avoided the issue of emotion in archaeological interpretation, with the result that even death and burial remain emotionless landscapes in the past. In this chapter, I take the perspective that emotions, whilst built upon a biological foundation, are historically and culturally contingent phenomena experienced through the senses and the embodied self. Imbued with sentiment, funerary ritual, and material culture—those behaviours, spaces, and objects most closely associated with death—present archaeologists with the opportunity to explore how emotion was experienced through spatial relationships and the treatment and disposition of the corpse. Burial practices during the Late Moche period in Peru (AD 600–800), which shifted from extramural inhumation to in-house ‘bench’ burial, are explored as a case study. These changes are interpreted as reflecting (1) loss of confidence in traditional Moche ideology governing burial practices and beliefs in the afterlife; (2) a shift from burial as public spectacle to private event; and (3) emphasis upon long-term personal interaction with the deceased through daily engagement.

Keywords: Moche culture, emotion, funerary practices, Peru, households, cemeteries

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