Interpreting conflict mortuary behaviour: applying non-linear and traditional quantitative methods to conflict burials

Spars, Stephanie Anne (2005) Interpreting conflict mortuary behaviour: applying non-linear and traditional quantitative methods to conflict burials. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The research in this dissertation concerns methods and theories involved in the analysis and interpretation of burials related to wars and other conflict situations. Its core is a conflict interment model that I developed to facilitate the identification of material differences in burials that will help in understanding burial circumstances (e.g., whether a death occurred in direct conflict on the battlefield, as a direct consequence of battlefield injuries or other trauma, or as an execution, or was unrelated to the conflict; and whether the subsequent burial was by a ‘friendly’, ‘neutral’ or ‘hostile group’). These is a great need for such a model, because exhumations tend to focus on the recovery of remains – while assuming the circumstances of death and burial – and therefore lack the structured methods and procedures that might provide additional information about what actually took place.

I analyse nine datasets from seven different conflict episodes spanning the 15th century to the late 20th century. The reason for using data from different centuries, types of conflict, culture, and grave type (or level of a particular type of grave) is to test the applicability of the model to: a) known grave types, in order to discern any common elements to be found in friendly, neutral, or hostile interments; and b) unknown grave types, in order to tentatively identify those responsible for interment and the circumstances surrounding the burials.

The model takes account of both normative (cross-cultural) and situational behaviours in the death and burial process, and includes variables dealing with body positioning, cause of death, presence or absence of mutilation, burial container, and ritual markers including clothing and grave goods.

The ultimate goal is to develop an approach to burials in archaeology applicable in a wide variety of recent, historic and, possibly prehistoric contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Huggett, Dr. Jeremy
Date of Award: 2005
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2005-1136
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:34

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