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Subject:

EAA session on animal ritual killing and burial (2009)

From:

Aleks <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Aleks <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Oct 2008 10:34:18 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

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Dear all,

We're putting together a session on animal ritual killing and burial for 
the next meeting of the EAA and although it's still early, we thought we 
should circulate it at this stage to gauge the level of interest.

All the best,

Aleks and Krish

*
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*

*S*ession Proposal for the 15th Meeting of the European Association of 
Archaeologists, Riva del Garda, Italy, September 2009

Animal Ritual Killing and Burial: European Perspectives

The killing and burial of animals in ritualistic contexts is encountered 
across Europe from Prehistory through to the historical period. The term 
‘ritualistic’ is an ambiguous and controversial one, but in this context 
refers to the slaughter of animals as part of religious practice. 
Archaeologically, such animals are most frequently encountered in 
funerary contexts, often in association with human remains, where they 
are typically interpreted as sacrifices. Written sources from historical 
periods indicate incredible diversity in the form and function of animal 
sacrifice, from basic slaughter through to burning and living burial. 
Deeper in the Past, where we rely almost exclusively on interpreting 
deposited animal remains and (where available) zoomorphic iconography, 
the range of treatments of the ritually slaughtered and deposited 
animals is equally diverse.

The aim of this session is to assess the state of research across 
Europe, to ascertain whether comparable interpretative frameworks are 
used, especially between archaeologists working with prehistoric and 
historical societies. How easy is it to identify ritually killed animals 
in the archaeological record? Can we tell if an animal has been killed 
specifically for such a purpose? Is it possible to reconstruct the rites 
associated with their deposition? Is it possible to reconstruct or 
re-contextualise the value of ritually killed animals? What insights can 
be gained about the religious paradigms and ritual systems of the 
societies engaged in animal sacrifice? How specifically can we 
understand the cultic praxis behind the sacrificial killing of animals? 
Why are some species used in sacrificial contexts and not others? What 
can this tell us about human-animal relations in the past? How much 
similarity is there across European societies in the treatment of 
animals ‘made sacred’? How long were specific rites in use and why? 
Although animal sacrifices are typically interpreted as substitutes for 
humans, how does the ritualistic treatment of animal bodies compare to 
similar treatments of humans? This is a topic which is widely 
encountered in the study of past European societies, and one which would 
benefit from a comparison of techniques, interpretations, theoretical 
frameworks and critiques.

We welcome papers on any aspect of the ritual killing and deposition of 
animals, from any part of Europe and from any time period. We ask that 
papers move beyond individual case studies to consider broader questions 
(as suggested in, but not restricted to, the above list) aimed at 
furthering our understanding of the topic. We aim to publish the papers 
from this session as a book.

Organisers:
Aleks Pluskowski (Department of Archaeology, University of Reading)
Krish Seetah (Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge)

Please email all titles and abstracts (of around 200 words), as well as 
any queries to
Aleks Pluskowski ([log in to unmask])

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