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Revisiting funerary practices: A methodological approach to the study of funerary sequences and social organisation in the Neolithic Near East, integrating forensic experiments in archaeo-anthropology


ArchFarm aims to expand the methodological principles of funerary archaeology and apply this innovative approach to interpret Neolithic Near Eastern burials.
Funerary practices provide a valuable insight into social organisation and ideology of past societies. A major deficiency is that the archaeological record only shows the final deposition of human remains. Funerary practices are not often considered as a dynamic process that consists of several stages over a length of time. In addition, a confident interpretation of funerary treatment before deposition is currently very difficult due to the lack of experimental research. In order to reconstruct the sequence of funerary actions, ArchFarm will develop and test a protocol for the identification of pre-depositional treatment such as different forms of mummification. During the outgoing phase, controlled and repetitive experiments of human body decay will be conducted at the Australian Body Farm, the only human decomposition facility in the world that is connected to an archaeological department and combines archaeological questions with forensic science. The new methods will then be applied to Neolithic Near Eastern burials which are known for body part manipulations such as skull removal. During the incoming phase, skeletal remains from several Neolithic Near Eastern sites will be analysed. The results will be combined with ethnological research to increase our understanding of social choices and ideology behind certain funerary actions.
ArchFarm is an interdisciplinary study that will create methodological novelties relevant to several periods. Based on a combination of archaeo-anthropology, forensic science and ethno-archaeology, this study will produce a more holistic narrative of funerary practices. In addition, ArchFarm will create the opportunity for communication and outreach on the subject of ‘dying, death and mourning in past and present times’.

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Place Pey Berland 35
33000 Bordeaux
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 270 918

Partners (1)

Northfields Avenue
2522 Wollongong Nsw
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments