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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the disparate scales of ritual deposition in Iron Age Europe, from the individual/household to the wider region. It explores commonalities underlying different practices, including the pervasive interest in human remains, the deployment of ritualized violence, the formalization of religious practice, and the roles of natural, domestic, and monumental spaces. The Iron Age is notable for the ritualization of domestic life, with certain objects, including human body parts, deposited in houses. Watery places provided another focus; bodies showing heavily ritualized treatments have been found in bogs from Scandinavia to Ireland. From the middle La Tène period, more formal cult centres appear, some as foci for deposition on an enormous scale. Elsewhere, as in Ireland, ritual activity focused on ‘ancestral’ landscapes. Motivations behind acts of deposition are difficult to ascertain, but the material residues suggest a widespread concern with sacrifice as a means of securing benefits for the community.

Keywords: ritual, religion, bog body, headhunting, ancestral landscape, sanctuary, deposition, offering

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