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dc.contributor.authorThompson, Jess Emma
dc.date.accessioned2020-03-04T15:23:19Z
dc.date.available2020-03-04T15:23:19Z
dc.date.issued2020-04-25
dc.date.submitted2019-10-08
dc.identifier.urihttps://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/303015
dc.description.abstractThis research addresses the body and personhood in late Neolithic Malta (c. 3600–2300 cal BC) by reconstructing funerary practices at two collective burial sites: the Xemxija Tombs (Malta) and Xagħra Circle (Gozo). The range and sequence of funerary practices are identified through implementing taphonomic analysis to classify the condition and modification of bone and explore dominant trends in depositional practice. Although the extensive disarticulation and fragmentation of remains has received considerable attention, the timing of post-mortem interactions has been largely overlooked. Yet, the temporality of mortuary practices is crucial for understanding the social dimension of the process of death and dying, revealing how the identity of the dead is transformed. This work further explores how mortuary rites responded to understandings of the body held during life. To do so, the treatment of the dead body is placed in its social context, integrating burial treatment, bioarchaeological evidence and material culture—particularly the corpus of anthropomorphic figurines—to provide a new interpretation of personhood in late Neolithic Malta. Analysing the full assemblage of human remains from six rock-cut tombs at Xemxija, and between 9.3–100% of the assemblage from 16 contexts at the Xagħra Circle, this research finds a predominant practice of primary interment and subsequent disarticulation in most burial spaces. Disarticulation typically focussed on the selective removal of crania and long bones, and long bones are demonstrated to have been removed from the Xemxija Tombs. Careful analysis shows this was an extended process, in which the memory of the dead was maintained over several generations and social death was prolonged. Significantly, this practice was inclusive of individuals from foetal to old adult in age and was not biased according to sex. Aligning the life-course with the death-course, a pervasive interest in modifying the body is evident. The fragmentation of dead bodies and figurines indicates bodily partibility enacted across multiple media. These new results reveal corporeal practices which extended from life into interactions with the dead. However, in all contexts, the body is figured and constructed in diverse ways, revealing that personhood was founded on difference. Altogether, bodies are shown to be complex and multiple entities in both life and death, and the integration of bodies in their varied forms was significant. This research offers new insights into the ‘body worlds’ of Neolithic Malta which has implications for understanding socio-political dynamics. This thesis demonstrates the significance of a holistic analysis of bodies and personhood in the past.
dc.description.sponsorshipThis research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, FRAGSUS ERC Project FP7 'Ideas' (Advanced Grant 323727), and Magdalene College (Cambridge)
dc.language.isoen
dc.rightsAll rights reserved
dc.rightsAll Rights Reserveden
dc.rights.urihttps://www.rioxx.net/licenses/all-rights-reserved/en
dc.subjectTaphonomy
dc.subjectFunerary taphonomy
dc.subjectPersonhood
dc.subjectFigurines
dc.subjectDeathways
dc.subjectNeolithic Malta
dc.subjectCollective burial
dc.titleHeads, shoulders, knees and toes: Exploring bodies, body parts and personhood in late Neolithic Malta through funerary taphonomy
dc.typeThesis
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoral
dc.type.qualificationnameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.publisher.institutionUniversity of Cambridge
dc.publisher.departmentDepartment of Archaeology
dc.date.updated2020-02-28T22:00:02Z
dc.identifier.doi10.17863/CAM.50091
dc.contributor.orcidThompson, Jess Emma [0000-0002-9389-0545]
dc.publisher.collegeMagdalene
dc.type.qualificationtitlePhD in Archaeology
cam.supervisorRobb, John
cam.supervisorStoddart, Simon
cam.supervisorPower, Ronika
cam.supervisor.orcidRobb, John [0000-0002-7987-4549]
cam.supervisor.orcidStoddart, Simon [0000-0002-5480-7075]
cam.supervisor.orcidPower, Ronika [0000-0002-1092-8131]
cam.thesis.fundingtrue


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