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date: 24 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Ritual in archaeology is usually explored as an undifferentiated kind of esoteric or ‘irrational’ action, opposed to utilitarian or ‘rational’ — a characterization that clearly approximates most closely to the luminal stage defined by van Gennep and Turner. It is therefore unsurprising that archaeological studies of ritual tend to emphasize ‘otherness’, heightened or extreme modes of expression and symbolic communication. Although archaeologists have become quite comfortable discussing ‘ritual’ in these narrow terms, they usually ignore the different characteristics and purposes of the rites at other stages of the ritual process. This article discusses rites of passage as journeys; rites of passage as technologies of person transformation; rites of passage, cosmic order, and classificatory schemes; power, sacred conquest, and rites of reaggregation; and themes in the archaeology of rites of passage.

Keywords: rituals, archaeology, journey, transformation, cosmic order, power, sacred conquest, rites of reaggregation

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