Skip to main content

Cremation in Archaeological Contexts

  • Reference work entry
Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

Introduction

The earliest recorded use of ceremonial burning in the disposal of the dead comes from Australia and dates to c. 24000 BCE (Lange et al. 1987: 17). Cremation appears to become a major mortuary ritual from around c. 8000 BCE (Davies & Mates 2005: 455–573) and its use has varied temporally and geographically. In the British Isles, for example, cremation formed the predominant rite within the periods c. 2400–1100 BCE, CE 43–150 and 410–650. A similar temporal pattern existed in much of Europe but with regional variations, including a persistence of the rite in the northern provinces of the Roman Empire (third to fifth centuries CE) and Late Iron Age/Norse Scandinavia (eighth to eleventh centuries CE). Following the adoption of the middle-eastern practice of inhumation by the Romans, particularly after Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity (CE 313), cremation became a minority rite in Europe and other areas where that faith was followed until the late nineteenth century...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 5,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References

  • Davies, D. & L.H. Mates. (ed.) 2005. Encyclopaedia of cremation. Ashgate: Aldershot.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hiatt, B. 1969. Cremation in Aboriginal Australia. Mankind 7: 104-15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lange, M., H. Schutkowski, S. Hummel & B. Herrmann. 1987. A bibliography on cremations (PACT 19). Straßburg: Council of Europe.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKinley, J.I. 1994. Spong Hill part VIII: the cremations. (East Anglian Archaeology report 69). East Dereham: East Anglian Archaeology.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKinley, J.I. 2000. The analysis of cremated bone, in M. Cox & S. Mays (ed.) Human osteology: 403-21. London: Greenwich Medical Media.

    Google Scholar 

Further Reading

  • Artelius. T. & F. Svanbery. (ed.) 2005. Dealing with the dead: archaeological perspectives on prehistoric Scandinavian burial ritual. Stockholm: National Heritage Board Sweden.

    Google Scholar 

  • GrÄslund, B. 1994. Prehistoric soul beliefs in northern Europe. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 60: 15-26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holck, P. 1986. Cremated bones. A medical-anthropological study of an archaeological material on cremation burials.(Anthropologiske skrifer 1). Oslo: Anatomisk institutt, University of Oslo.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hope, V.M. 2007. Death in ancient Rome. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knusel, C. & R. Gowland. (ed.) 2006. The social archaeology of funerary remains. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKinley, J.I. in press. Cremation: excavation, analysis and interpretation of material from cremation-related contexts, in L. Nilsson Stutz & S. Tarlow (ed.) Handbook on the archaeology of death and burial. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Millett, M., J. Pearce & M. Struck. (ed.) 2000. Burial, society and context in the Roman world. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parsons, B. 2005. Committed to the cleansing flame: the development of cremation in nineteenth-century England. Reading: Spire Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmit, C.W. & S.A. Symes. (ed.) 2008. The analysis of burnt human remains. London: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sigvallius, B. 1994. Funeral pyres: Iron Age cremations in North Spǻnga (Theses and Papers in Osteology 1). Stockholm: Stockholm University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smits, E., E. Iregren & A.G. Drusini. (ed.) 1997. Cremation studies in archaeology. Saonara: Logos Edizioni.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toynbee, J.M.C. 1996. Death and burial in the Roman world. London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacqueline I. McKinley .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this entry

Cite this entry

McKinley, J.I. (2014). Cremation in Archaeological Contexts. In: Smith, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_153

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_153

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-0426-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4419-0465-2

  • eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

Publish with us

Policies and ethics