Written on the body

in Neolithic cave burials
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This chapter examines the diversity of Neolithic cave burial practices after around 3800 BC. In this period there is evidence of a secondary burial rite which is focussed on the cranium. There is also one possible example of mummification or the curation of body parts as part of extended funerary practices. Other secondary burial rites can be recognised in a small number of sites. There are also a very small number of primary burials. The most common burial rite in this period is successive inhumation, which is well documented at a number of sites. There are also sites where multi-stage rites of some kind clearly took place, but without sufficiently well-preserved evidence to describe them in more detail; and other sites where there are Early Neolithic dates determined  from poorly understood single bones. This diversity of burial practice seems to be linked to the fact that all of these different kinds of rite are also attested at other kinds of Early Neolithic site as well as caves.

Neolithic cave burials

Agency, structure and environment

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