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Where are the witches of prehistory?

Where are the witches of prehistory? Why are certain common classes of ritually destroyed objects (persons, artifacts, or architecture), such as persecuted witches, so difficult to identify in the archaeological record? Although a common topic in cultural anthropology, witches seldom receive the attention of archaeologists. The difficulties archaeologists face in the study of religion derive, in part, from the lack of correlates linking ritual activities to the formation of archaeological deposits. This paper defines ritual as a technology and employs an object life history approach that draws upon ethnographic, archaeological, and experimental research to begin building such linkages—including those describing the presecution and deposition of witches, sorcerers, and other victims of ritual violence. These new directions are illustrated through a case study of anomalous deposits of human skeletal remains from the North American Southwest http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory Springer Journals

Where are the witches of prehistory?

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References (273)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Social Sciences; Archaeology; Anthropology
ISSN
1072-5369
eISSN
1573-7764
DOI
10.1007/BF02428071
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Why are certain common classes of ritually destroyed objects (persons, artifacts, or architecture), such as persecuted witches, so difficult to identify in the archaeological record? Although a common topic in cultural anthropology, witches seldom receive the attention of archaeologists. The difficulties archaeologists face in the study of religion derive, in part, from the lack of correlates linking ritual activities to the formation of archaeological deposits. This paper defines ritual as a technology and employs an object life history approach that draws upon ethnographic, archaeological, and experimental research to begin building such linkages—including those describing the presecution and deposition of witches, sorcerers, and other victims of ritual violence. These new directions are illustrated through a case study of anomalous deposits of human skeletal remains from the North American Southwest

Journal

Journal of Archaeological Method and TheorySpringer Journals

Published: May 10, 2006

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