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Title: Death and burial on the Burren : a taphonomic study of three megalithic monuments in County Clare, Ireland
Author: Beckett, J. F.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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Burial is a highly symbolic activity through which concepts of the world are reflected in the representation and treatment of human remains. While mortuary studies in archaeology and anthropology have had a long history, our understanding of Neolithic societies through mortuary analyses is lacking. This research is a regional comparison of the taphonomy of three megalithic monuments in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland. Through an integration of taphonomy, bioarchaeology, and social archaeological theory, the burial practices of earlier Neolithic societies in Ireland were assessed to understand how societies used burial in socially significant ways. These methods further our understandings of these societies by revealing who, how many, and what types of people were buried here, as well as determine the history of the bones themselves. Finally, what types of burial rites took place and the treatment/manipulation of the dead is also understood through such integration. A comparison of burial practices also lessens the gap in our knowledge of the nature of social interactions and relationships on the Burren. The Parknabinnia chambered tomb, Poulnabrone portal tomb, and Poulawack Linkardstown-type cairn are located within 3 kilometres of each other, and date to contemporary periods. The osteology and bioarchaeology reveal very similar people were buried in these monuments. Yet, there are three morphologically different monuments, set into different landscapes. The taphonomic evidence further shows some differences in burial practices were taking place at these sites. However, it is important that we do not read differences in burial practices or typology to mean different cultures or people, as this research presents a very clear case for the availability of a variety of practices for even a single Neolithic society. A study of burial practices then can further inform about meaning and cultural practice during the Neolithic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available