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Ref ID: 28357
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Harris, N. J.
Tayles, N.
Title: Burial containers – A hidden aspect of mortuary practices: Archaeothanatology at Ban Non Wat, Thailand
Date: 2012
Source: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2012.01.001
Abstract: Research on mortuary practices has attracted a wide following for the role it can play in determination of individual social identity and population social structure. One aspect of mortuary practices that is rarely addressed, except where physical remnants are recovered, is the form of burial containers. Archaeothanatology is a taphonomically based methodology applied to infer the form of such containers when no material evidence remains. This paper shows how the archaeothanatological approach can be applied post hoc, with 133 adult burials from the prehistoric site of Ban Non Wat analyzed. Temporal changes in container form were expected as subsistence, technology, and social organization transformed over 1850 years. The deceased were predominantly loosely wrapped in non-durable material or placed in wide coffins, although individuals were buried in other contexts, with a peak in variety towards the end of the Bronze Age and early Iron Age. In combination with evidence from other sites in the area, our results identify a reduction in the variety of container forms used within sites in the mid to late Iron Age. We have shown the value of archaeothanatology as a contributor to research on mortuary practices, in particular having shown that it may be usefully applied post-excavation.
Date Created: 5/8/2012
Volume: 31
Number: 2
Page Start: 227
Page End: 239