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Bodies, Bowls, and Burial: New Perspectives on the Bab adh-Dhra’ Mortuary Assemblage

Author(s): Charles Morse ; Meredith Chesson

Year: 2017

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Though death may seem an instantaneous experience, the treatment of death by a mortuary community provides implications for activity and identity that stretch far beyond a stilled heart. Archaeologically, we can use evidence associated with mortuary practices to inform us about lifeways and beliefs of the interred and the community at large. Mortuary contexts from the Early Bronze I (3500 – 3100 BCE) at Bab adh-Dhra’ provide just such an opportunity. The site, situated in the Southern Ghor region of Jordan near the Lisan Peninsula of the Dead Sea, presents a diverse burial assemblage associated with shaft tomb burials. By conducting a comparative analysis of the mortuary materials that focuses on the appearance and treatment of atypical goods—including basalt bowls, maceheads, figurines, and wood objects—compared to more ubiquitous materials—osteological remains, ceramics, and beads—we can gain insight into their notions of value. By investigating their concepts of value in this assemblage, we provide a better understanding of complex practices for a group that show a marked investment in a cemetery location before their later shift to settlement at the site.

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Bodies, Bowls, and Burial: New Perspectives on the Bab adh-Dhra’ Mortuary Assemblage. Charles Morse, Meredith Chesson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429204)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16993

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