Commemorating bodies and lives at Kish's 'A Cemetery': (Re)presenting social memory

Christina Torres-Rouff, William J. Pestle, Blair M. Daverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the course of a decade, the Joint Oxford-Field Museum Expedition to Kish recovered artifacts and skeletal remains from one of the most influential city-states in ancient Mesopotamia. We focus here on the process of commemoration of the dead as evidenced in the graves excavated from Kish's 'A Cemetery'. We use skeletal remains, fieldnotes, and artifactual evidence to situate these individuals within their biological and mortuary contexts and to explore elements of living, dying, and remembering at Kish. The repetitive actions involved in burying the dead in the ruins of a razed palace suggest the construction of social memory aimed at creating communal cohesion and reinforcing local norms. The details afforded each individual and their grave suggest that burials functioned both to engage a new political landscape and to create spaces in which the bereaved commemorated individual lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-219
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Mesopotamia
  • commemoration
  • mortuary archaeology
  • social identities
  • social memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology

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