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Cremation in Archaeological Contexts

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Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology


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...

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Further Reading

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Correspondence to Jacqueline I. McKinley .

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McKinley, J.I. (2014). Cremation in Archaeological Contexts. In: Smith, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY.

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