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Ritual, Play and Belief, in Evolution and Early Human Societies

$39.99 (C)

Iain Morley, Colin Renfrew, Gordon Burghardt, Peter K. Smith, Ellen Dissanayake, David Friedel, Michelle Rich, Claire Halley, Trevor Watkins, Yosef Garfinkel, Roel Sterckx, Caroline Malone, Lyvia Morgan, Nanno Marinatos, Nigel Spivey, Karl Taube, Vanghelis Kyriakidis, Lambros Malafouris, Robin Osborne.
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  • Date Published: June 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316507803

$ 39.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The origins of religion and ritual in humans have been the focus of centuries of thought in archaeology, anthropology, theology, evolutionary psychology and more. Play and ritual have many aspects in common, and ritual is a key component of the early cult practices that underlie the religious systems of the first complex societies in all parts of the world. This book examines the formative cults and the roots of religious practice from the earliest times until the development of early religion in the Near East, in China, in Peru, in Mesoamerica and beyond. Here, leading prehistorians and other specialists bring a fresh approach to the early practices that underlie the faiths and religions of the world. They demonstrate the profound role of play ritual and belief systems and offer powerful new insights into the emergence of early civilization.

    • Takes a worldwide and interdisciplinary view of the early religions of the world, bringing together leading experts from archaeology, developmental psychology and zoology
    • Explores relationships between play and ritual, and between ritual and religion, in animals and humans in both the present and in prehistory, updating the classic work of Huizinga and incorporates recent developments in the salient fields
    • Proposes a new model of relationships between performance, imitation, gesture, learning, ritual, music and ritual, appealing to those interested in the evolution of religion, development of human societies, and cognitive evolution
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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316507803
    • length: 353 pages
    • dimensions: 280 x 215 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.87kg
    • contains: 137 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introducing ritual, play and belief: in evolution and early human societies Iain Morley
    2. Introduction: play as the precursor of ritual in early human societies Colin Renfrew
    Part I. Play and Ritual: Forms, Foundations and Evolution in Animals and Humans:
    3. The origins, evolution, and interconnections of play and ritual: setting the stage Gordon Burghardt
    4. Play and creativity Patrick Bateson
    5. Pretend and sociodramatic play in evolutionary and developmental perspective Peter K. Smith
    6. Pretend play, cognition and life-history in human evolution Iain Morley
    7. From play and ritualisation to ritual and its arts: sources of Upper Pleistocene ritual practices in Lower Middle Pleistocene ritualised and play behaviours in ancestral hominins Ellen Dissanayake
    Part II. Playing with Belief and Performance in Ancient Societies:
    8. Maya sacred play: the view from El Perú-Waka' David Friedel and Michelle Rich
    9. Communal performance and ritual practice in the Ancestral Puebloan era of the American Southwest Claire Halley
    10. Architecture and imagery in the early Neolithic of Southwest Asia: framing rituals, stabilizing meanings Trevor Watkins
    11. Dancing with masks in the Protohistoric Near East Yosef Garfinkel
    12. Ritual, mimesis and the animal world in early China Roel Sterckx
    13. Manipulating the bones: Eating and augury in the Maltese temples Caroline Malone
    Part III. The Ritual in the Game, The Game in the Ritual:
    14. Play, ritual and transformation: Sports, animals and manhood in Egyptian and Aegean art Lyvia Morgan
    15. Bull games in Minoan Crete: social and symbolic dimensions Nanno Marinatos
    16. Epic Games Nigel Spivey
    17. The ball game, boxing and ritual bloodsport in ancient Mesoamerica Karl Taube
    18. Rituals, games and learning Vanghelis Kyriakidis
    Part IV. From Play to Faith? Discussion:
    19. Play and ritual: some thoughts from a material-culture perspective Lambros Malafouris
    20. Believing in play and ritual Robin Osborne
    21. The pentagram of performance: ritual, play and social transformation Iain Morley.

  • Editors

    Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge
    Colin Renfrew was formerly Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, and Master of Jesus College Cambridge from 1986 to 1997. He is the author of many publications, including Prehistory: The Making of the Human Mind (2008). He is Fellow of the British Academy, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and was the recipient of the Balzan Prize in 2004.

    Iain Morley, University of Oxford
    Iain Morley is Academic Coordinator of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford. He has been Lecturer in Palaeoanthropology and Director of the degree in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, and was formerly a Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. He has produced numerous articles and books, including Becoming Human: Innovation in Prehistoric Material (Cambridge, 2008), Spiritual Culture and Image and Imagination: A Global Prehistory of Figurative Representation (2007), and The Prehistory of Music: Human Evolution, Archaeology and the Origins of Musicality (2013).

    Michael Boyd, University of Cambridge
    Michael Boyd is a Senior Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. He is Assistant Director of the Keros Island Survey, and co-editor of the Keros publications series. He has published a book on Mycenaean funerary practices, and has co-edited two volumes on funerary archaeology: one with a worldwide perspective, Death Rituals, Social Order and the Archaeology of Immortality in the Ancient World: Death shall have no dominion (Cambridge, 2016), and the other concerned with the Staging Death: Funerary Performance, Architecture and Landscape in the Aegean (2016).


    Iain Morley, Colin Renfrew, Gordon Burghardt, Peter K. Smith, Ellen Dissanayake, David Friedel, Michelle Rich, Claire Halley, Trevor Watkins, Yosef Garfinkel, Roel Sterckx, Caroline Malone, Lyvia Morgan, Nanno Marinatos, Nigel Spivey, Karl Taube, Vanghelis Kyriakidis, Lambros Malafouris, Robin Osborne.

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