Burial Terminology: A Guide for Researchers by Roderick Sprague

By Roderick Sprague

With archaeological practices being as diversified because the cultures they learn, little enhance has been made to standardize the nomenclature utilized in the Western medical global to explain the actual point of burial and other kinds of physique disposal, which might permit researchers to explain and accurately evaluate those designated and revealing practices. fashionable archaeologist Roderick Sprague eventually provides a long-overdue and much-needed logical define of the variables that are supposed to be indexed to explain our bodies, grave items, and tombs, setting up commonplace phrases for the archaeologists who excavate those burials. Drawing from examples and terminology in old archaeology, prehistory, ethnography, and forensic anthropology, this good illustrated, functional, and undemanding reference textual content may be fundamental to all researchers in those and comparable fields.

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Right (Fig. 17) 2. Left (Fig. 5) D. Sitting/seated (Fig. 19) erect, vertical, bent (vertical is generic for D and E) E. Standing erect, perpendicular ORIENTATION AND ALIGNMENT (VII) Alignment is concerned with two directions (NW—SE) as used for such items as a grave or container. Orientation is concerned with only one direction: the end with the head of the individual. When determining the orientation of a semi-flexed or flexed burial, two different methods will give different results; hence, the detailed section should be consulted.

Articulation Preferred Terms To Be Avoided A. Articulated primary, formal, proper B. Semi-articulated semi-articulosis, semi-disarticulated C. Partial articulation D. Rearticulated placed bone, false extended E. Disarticulated (including bundle) secondary, bone scatter, bunched, dismantled, disordered, tumbled F. Disturbed fragmentary POSITION (V) Position refers to the relationship of the body parts to each other. Terms not acceptable are deposition and posture. Position has nothing to do with the grave or container but involves only the Table 4.

The contact of the living with the dead is very real and is based on a very different view of any afterlife. So-called ancestor worship is probably as active among the overseas Chinese as it is in much of China today, and in no way does the term “disposal of the dead” cover this example because the dead are always present and revered. For an accurate discussion of the place of the ancestors in Chinese culture today, see Chung and Wegars (2005). There is a tendency in the meaning of Chinese terms for many of the objects used in burials and funerals to imply life as pointed out by Cohen (1995) in response to an article by Sprague (1995:6): In China the character shòu ‘longevity’ is often used euphemistically in matters relating to death and burial.

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