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Ritual, Belief and the Dead in Early Modern Britain and Ireland

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About the Authors
  • Drawing on archaeological, historical, theological, scientific, and folkloric sources, Sarah Tarlow’s interdisciplinary study examines belief as it relates to the dead body in early modern Britain and Ireland. From the theological discussion of bodily resurrection to the folkloric use of body parts as remedies, and from the judicial punishment of the corpse to the ceremonial interment of the social elite, this book discusses how seemingly incompatible beliefs about the dead body existed in parallel through this tumultuous period. This study, which is the first to incorporate archaeological evidence of early modern death and burial from across Britain and Ireland, addresses new questions about the materiality of death: what the dead body means, and how its physical substance could be attributed with sentience and even agency. It provides a sophisticated original interpretive framework for the growing quantities of archaeological and historical evidence about mortuary beliefs and practices in early modernity.

    • Truly interdisciplinary, combining evidence derived from archaeology, history, history of science, folklore and theology
    • The first synthetic attempt to interpret primary archaeological evidence of early modern death and burial from across Britain and Ireland
    • Deals with 'big questions' of belief, the material body, life and death
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "For those interested in either early modern England or the history of modern mortuary beliefs and practices, this study will undoubtedly be indispensible. Highly recommended."
    Choice

    "The body is a current obsession in the Western world; in this excellent book, the early modern dead body gets its turn to be center stage."
    Clare Gittings, Journal of British Studies

    "This is an accessible and stimulating book, offering by its scope and breadth a penetrative insight into early modern attitudes to the body, whether recently-deceased or long dead … This book should be required reading for archaeology students and others interested in how past societies have dealt with the consequences of that last great leap in the dark."
    Alison Smithson, The Archaeological Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139210638
    • contains: 36 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from eBooks.com
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Religious belief
    3. Scientific belief
    4. Social belief
    5. Folk belief
    6. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Sarah Tarlow, University of Leicester
    Sarah Tarlow is Senior Lecturer in Historical Archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester. She is the author of Bereavement and Commemoration: An Archaeology of Mortality (1999) and The Archaeology of Improvement (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and co-editor of The Familiar Past? Archaeologies of Later Historical Britain (1999) and Thinking through the Body (2002). She has published widely on archaeological theory, later historical archaeology, and the interdisciplinary study of death.

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