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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2022

Interdisciplinary Explorations of Postmortem Interaction

Dead Bodies, Funerary Objects, and Burial Spaces Through Texts and Time

  • Is highly topical and offers a multi-regional focus

  • Advances the dialogue between (bio) archaeologists, literary scientists, and social anthropologists

  • Takes a diachronic approach; examining cases from prehistory to the present

  • This is an open access book

Part of the book series: Bioarchaeology and Social Theory (BST)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xii
  2. Interdisciplinary Explorations of Postmortem Interaction: An Introduction

    • Estella Weiss-Krejci, Sebastian Becker, Philip Schwyzer
    Pages 1-21Open Access
  3. Anachronic Entanglements: Archaeological Traces and the Event in Beowulf

    • Andrew James Johnston
    Pages 97-112Open Access
  4. Cemetery Enchanted, Encore: Natural Burial in France and Beyond

    • Saskya Tschebann
    Pages 249-268Open Access
  5. The Cemetery and Ossuary at Sedlec near Kutná Hora: Reflections on the Agency of the Dead

    • Jan Horák, Estella Weiss-Krejci, Jan Frolík, Filip Velímský, Ladislav Šmejda
    Pages 269-295Open Access
  6. Back Matter

    Pages 297-317

About this book

In the present as in the past, the dead have been deployed to promote visions of identity, as well as ostensibly wider human values. Through a series of case studies from ancient Egypt through prehistoric, historic, and present-day Europe, this book discusses what is constant and what is locally and historically specific in our ways of interacting with the remains of the dead, their objects, and monuments. Postmortem interaction encompasses not only funerary rituals and intergenerational engagement with forebears, but also concerns encounters with the dead who died centuries and millennia ago.

Drawing from a variety of disciplines such as archaeology, bioarchaeology, literary studies, ancient Egyptian philology, and sociocultural anthropology, this volume provides an interdisciplinary account of the ways in which the dead are able to transcend temporal distances and engender social relationships. Until quite recently, literary sciences and archaeology were generally regarded as incommensurable in their aims, methodologies, and source material. Although archaeologists and literary critics have been increasingly willing to borrow concepts and terminology from the other discipline, this book is one examples of a genuinely collaborative endeavor.

This is an open access book.


  • mortuary archaeology
  • dead-body politics
  • memory studies
  • agency of the dead
  • archaeological theory
  • literary studies
  • medieval relics
  • mass graves
  • burial monuments
  • prehistoric graves
  • History of Egyptian Sepulchral Monuments
  • Iron Age in Northern Central Europe
  • Historic Sources about the Uses of the Dead
  • Literary Tombs in the Twelfth Century
  • Archaeological Traces in Beowulf
  • National Identity through Merovingian Burials
  • Skeletal Remains of Saint Erik
  • Dissolving Subjects in Medieval Reliquaries
  • Shakespearean Exhumations
  • Open access

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Historical Archaeology, Austrian Archaeological Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

    Estella Weiss-Krejci

  • Berlin, Germany

    Sebastian Becker

  • Department of English, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

    Philip Schwyzer

About the editors

Estella Weiss-Krejci is an archaeologist and social anthropologist. She received a PhD and a venia docendi from the University of Vienna. Her research interests include ancient Maya water management and mortuary behavior, and dead-body politics in prehistoric, medieval, and post-medieval Europe. She has been a recipient of grants awarded by the Austrian Science Fund, the Portuguese Science and Technology Fund, and the Fulbright Commission. Her research results have been published in peer reviewed international journals and edited books. From 2016 to 2019 she was the Austrian PI of the HERA / EU Horizon 2020 DEEPDEAD project (Deploying the Dead: Artefacts and Human Bodies in Socio-Cultural Transformations). 

Sebastian Becker gained a first-class undergraduate degree in Archaeology & Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. As part of an EU-funded research project, he completed a successful PhD, also at the University of Cambridge, focusing on later prehistoric art in Central Europe. His research took him to France and, more recently, Austria, where he has been researching the uses and re-use of (pre-)historic bodies as part of the HERA / EU Horizon 2020 DEEPDEAD project (2016–2019). He currently lives in Berlin.

Philip Schwyzer is Professor of Renaissance Literature at the University of Exeter. He received his BA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Interested in links between literature and archaeology, he has led interdisciplinary projects including ‘Speaking with the Dead’ (2011–2014), ‘The Past in its Place’ (2012–2016), and the HERA / EU Horizon 2020 DEEPDEAD project (2016–2019). His books include ‘Shakespeare and the Remains of Richard III’ (2013), and ‘Archaeologies of English Renaissance Literature’ (2007).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Postmortem Interaction

  • Book Subtitle: Dead Bodies, Funerary Objects, and Burial Spaces Through Texts and Time

  • Editors: Estella Weiss-Krejci, Sebastian Becker, Philip Schwyzer

  • Series Title: Bioarchaeology and Social Theory

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2022

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-03955-3

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-03958-4

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-03956-0

  • Series ISSN: 2567-6776

  • Series E-ISSN: 2567-6814

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XII, 317

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Archaeology, Physical-Biological Anthropology, Literary History

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)