A taphonomic approach to the re-analysis of the human remains from the Neolithic chamber tomb of Quanterness, Orkney

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Megalithic tombs in Orkney have yielded some of the largest volumes
of human remains in Neolithic Britain. However, discrete skeletons
are lacking; the researcher is often presented with formidable volumes
of disarticulated and comingled remains. Themes of transformation,
fragmentation and manipulation of the body permeate the literature,
conferring on the megalithic structures significance as places of transition.
Previously, the inherent complexity of the remains has made them
an unattractive proposition for detailed study. However, advances in
taphonomic analysis mean that techniques now exist for approaching such
complex assemblages. A study has now been successfully carried out on
the Orcadian remains, uncovering the wealth of new data presented in this
volume. This data draws attention to subtle variations in funerary ritual
between and within the tombs, and pushes for a dramatic reconsideration of
our current understanding of the practices and cosmologies associated with
these enigmatic structures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherBAR Publishing
Number of pages333
Volume635
ISBN (Print)9781407315713
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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fragmentation
analysis

Keywords

  • Human remains
  • Taphonomy
  • Neolithic
  • Orkney
  • Megaliths
  • Mortuary rites

Cite this

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abstract = "Megalithic tombs in Orkney have yielded some of the largest volumesof human remains in Neolithic Britain. However, discrete skeletonsare lacking; the researcher is often presented with formidable volumesof disarticulated and comingled remains. Themes of transformation,fragmentation and manipulation of the body permeate the literature,conferring on the megalithic structures significance as places of transition.Previously, the inherent complexity of the remains has made theman unattractive proposition for detailed study. However, advances intaphonomic analysis mean that techniques now exist for approaching suchcomplex assemblages. A study has now been successfully carried out onthe Orcadian remains, uncovering the wealth of new data presented in thisvolume. This data draws attention to subtle variations in funerary ritualbetween and within the tombs, and pushes for a dramatic reconsideration ofour current understanding of the practices and cosmologies associated withthese enigmatic structures.",
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AB - Megalithic tombs in Orkney have yielded some of the largest volumesof human remains in Neolithic Britain. However, discrete skeletonsare lacking; the researcher is often presented with formidable volumesof disarticulated and comingled remains. Themes of transformation,fragmentation and manipulation of the body permeate the literature,conferring on the megalithic structures significance as places of transition.Previously, the inherent complexity of the remains has made theman unattractive proposition for detailed study. However, advances intaphonomic analysis mean that techniques now exist for approaching suchcomplex assemblages. A study has now been successfully carried out onthe Orcadian remains, uncovering the wealth of new data presented in thisvolume. This data draws attention to subtle variations in funerary ritualbetween and within the tombs, and pushes for a dramatic reconsideration ofour current understanding of the practices and cosmologies associated withthese enigmatic structures.

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