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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Interest in the inferences that archaeologists could make about past societies from their disposal of the dead was an integral part of processual archaeology. This chapter introduces the theoretical bases of this approach, which are grounded in cross-cultural ethnographic studies, and presents examples of their use in archaeological analyses of funerary sites. It then highlights problems with, and critiques of, these studies, which were made by scholars identified with the processual archaeology tradition, and more stridently by those called postprocessual archaeologists. Whatever one’s theoretical position on these debates, the chapter aims to demonstrate the historical importance of processual archaeology’s approach to social representation, as well as its legacies for current studies of past mortuary practices.

Keywords: processual archaeology, mortuary practices, ethnography, social representation

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