Diachronic Regional Social Dynamics

Mortuary Sites in the Illinois Valley/American Bottom Region
  • Douglas K. Charles
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)

Abstract

For 25 years it has been generally acknowledged that archaeological remains from cemeteries carry symbolic content, but the methods by which we may identify and interpret these symbols have been greatly contested. Two works set the tone for the 1970s: Lewis Binford’s seminal article, “Mortuary Practices: Their Study and Their Potential,” first offered in 1966 and published in 1971, and Arthur Saxe’s Ph.D. dissertation, Social Dimensions of Mortuary Practices, available since 1970. Both address the potential of mortuary studies for the reconstruction of social organization. This approach is particularly exemplified in the work of Joseph Tainter (1975, 1977a,b, 1978) during this period, and perhaps culminated in the volume The Archaeology of Death, edited by Robert Chapman and others (1981), with contributions by Richard Bradley, James Brown, Jane Buikstra, Lynne Goldstein, and John O’Shea. The Binford-Saxe approach may be encapsulated by the statement: The variability and structure in a society’s treatment of its dead, including that which can be archaeologically recovered, will be isomorphic with the variability and structure of the social dimensions of the society.

Keywords

Maize Shale Gall Smoke Holocene 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas K. Charles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA

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