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date: 21 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Dying is a social process which negotiates a transition between different states of being through the conventionalized actions of a range of participants; while death may mark a transition from being an active person to being a passive material thing, as standard archaeological practice assumes, even in our society the transition is more complex and in other cultural worlds it may be radically different. This observation provides the starting point for a new archaeology of death. It is argued that archaeological data such as the treatment of the body, burial rites, grave goods, and monumentalization may sometimes refer to traditional archaeological interpretive themes such as gender, status, and memory, but they always refer to—and form an active part of—dying as a social transition. This approach opens up new possibilities for archaeological interpretation of personhood, the body, and death.

Keywords: dying, body, personhood, ontology, transitions

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