• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Body Disposition in Cross-Cultural Context: Prehistoric and Modern Non-Western Societies
Body disposition in cross-cultural context: Prehistoric and modern non-Western societies

The method of disposal of human remains varies from culture to culture, prehistorically and historically. For those archaeologists who study the prehistory of cultures, the method of body disposal offers important insight for understanding both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural systems. In prehistoric mortuary practices, the location of the bodies, the skeletal material, and some of the inclusions within the burial crypt are the only artifacts that remain after the culture is gone. Gone are the words said and actions performed around the body. Gone are the people who witnessed the burial. Brad Bartel (1982) equates this with the classic psychological example of the black ...

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