Death and Burial


Module leader: Penny Bickle


This module will address the methodological and interpretative challenges of studying death and burial in the past. Students will be introduced to the formative and current debates in Funerary Archaeology. The module will provide them with a good understanding of latest debates influencing the study the funerary context and knowledge of the range of evidence encountered across different time periods, but with a particular focus on prehistory.

The module is taught thematically, drawing on anthropological and archaeological examples. Topics covered will include: Funerary rites and the role of ritual practice; Identity in burial studies; Material culture of death; Memory, and commemoration; Ethics and politics of the dead; and Death and attitudes to the human body.    

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should:

  • Be familiar with the historical development and significant debates of funerary archaeology studies and be able to situate them within the broader development of Archaeology as a discipline
  • Knowledge of the key research questions and methodologies for studying death and burial in the past
  • Be able to critically evaluate the different interpretative approaches to the study of funerary practices
  • Have a good understanding of the different ways in which the dead were treated and commemorated
  • Awareness of the standard terminology and style for reporting funerary practices
  • Enhance their skills in oral presentations, discussion and debate
  • Development of transferable team working skills in small group work and oral presentationsHave presented their research through seminar presentations

Cornish Quoit