Article Title

Returning and Reuse: Diachronic Perspectives on Multi-Component Cemeteries and Mortuary Politics at Middle Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Tara, Ireland

Type of Work

Article

Date

3-2015

Journal Title

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

Journal ISSN

0278-4165

Journal Volume

37

First Page

1

Last Page

18

DOI

10.1016/j.jaa.2014.10.003

Abstract

Archaeologists studying multi-component cemeteries have argued that the societies who reused cemeteries were motivated by connecting to the past. However, often overlooked are the potential roles of mortuary events and sites as key social and political venues for creating, contesting, and unmaking relationships and identities for the later community independent of a connection to the past. In this paper, I explore the social and political roles that mortuary rituals at the Mound of the Hostages, Tara, Ireland played during the Middle Neolithic (3350–2800 BC) and Early Bronze Age (2300–1700 BC).

Tara’s emergence as a regional mortuary center occurred only several hundred years after its initial reuse by Early Bronze Age peoples. Just as importantly, the burial activity that marked Tara as special in the Early Bronze Age was very brief, revealing that the regional centralization at Tara was ultimately unsuccessful. The analysis of cemetery formation at Tara is only possible due to the development of a fine-grained site specific chronology. These results have broad implications for how we understand cemetery formation, the reuse of mortuary monuments, and the dynamics of social complexity in prehistoric societies.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Anthropology

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