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From burial grounds to the interpretation of past epidemics: Diagnostic approach and new insight on funerary practices

Author(s): Dominique Castex ; Sacha Kacki

Year: 2015

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mass graves. Such discoveries testify to an abnormally high death rate linked to a specific event, such as wars or epidemics. Two research lines are fundamental to ascertain the nature of such crises: biological analysis of the exhumed skeletons (age, sex, and paleopathology), and research of DNA of the ancient pathogens which may have caused the deaths. Besides, these burial sites provide an insight of the impact of such a high mortality on funeral customs. At present, enough data is available, especially on plague, to develop an interdisciplinary strategy in order to interpret accurately mortality crises of the past. Therefore, we propose a synthesis on this topic based on several European burial sites related to epidemics. Through the analysis of archaeological data, our aim is to better understand the attitude of ancient societies toward epidemic death, and to highlight discrepancies between the archaeological evidences and both the textual and iconographic sources that describe these peculiar events.

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From burial grounds to the interpretation of past epidemics: Diagnostic approach and new insight on funerary practices. Sacha Kacki, Dominique Castex. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397695)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America