Session on Cremation Practices and Burials at Kiel Conference

The following session at the Kiel Conference 2023 might be of special interest for biological anthropologists.

Session 23:
Through the flames and into the grave –
multidisciplinary research into past and present cremation practices and burials

Cremation is gaining popularity in present-day Europe, while inhumation is rejected for primarily economic and practical reasons, i.e. cremations being a more affordable option and for lack of burial plots in the larger cities. The reasons for choosing between cremation and inhumations were however not as simplistic in the past, a cremation pyre will for example require knowledge and large amounts of wood and might not have been neither easier nor economically more affordable. Recent archaeological studies have shown that the ‘simple’ cremation graves hold valuable information about intricate mortuary processes and practices (e.g. body treatments) surrounding the funerals, which opens the space for further questions and interpretations regarding social, cultural or religious aspects (e.g. body concepts, symbolic communication, change of religious beliefs and taboos in death rituals). Interdisciplinary studies have revealed detailed insight into burning conditions on the pyre as well as absolute dating and mobility analyses of the cremated bone.

The session is organised by Helena Agerskov Rose, Maria Kohle, Melanie Augstein and Stefanie Schaefer Di-Maida. They invite papers from a broad range of disciplines working with cremation practices and burials in the past and today, including archaeological case studies of cremation cemeteries, burial rites and burial goods. They especially welcome papers investigating historical and ethnographic sources, religious and social studies, anthropological studies of human remains, and applications of scientific methods on cremation remains, e.g. strontium, carbon and oxygen isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating.

The Kiel Conference will take place from 13 to 18 March 2023 at Kiel (Germany). Get more information from the session flyer and the conference website.