Transformation by Fire
The Archaeology of Cremation in Cultural Context
Editors Ian Kuijt, Colin P. Quinn, and Gabriel Cooney’s volume examines cremation by documenting the material signatures of cremation events and processes, as well as its transformative impact on social relations and concepts of the body. Indeed, examining why and how people chose to cremate their dead serves as an important means of understanding how people in the past dealt with death, the body, and the social world.
The contributors develop new perspectives on cremation as important mortuary practices and social transformations. Varying attitudes and beliefs on cremation and other forms of burial within the same cultural paradigm help us understand what constitutes the body and what occurs during its fiery transformation. In addition, they explore issues and interpretive perspectives in the archaeological study of cremation within and between different cultural contexts.
The global and comparative perspectives on cremation render the book a unique contribution to the literature of anthropological and mortuary archaeology.
“The significance of this volume cannot be overstated. . . . [It] provides much food for thought about the physical processes and social meanings inherent in cremation practices across time, space, and cultures.”—Canadian Journal of Archaeology
“The compilation is a seriously considered assessment of the many issues confronting archaeology on the subject of cremation. The chapters and the brief commentary on some of them interspersed through the book provide a wonderful assessment of where we stand.”—James A. Brown, Northwestern University
“Transformation by Fire is different from other books on mortuary archaeology in its emphases on the series of events involved in cremation, the impacts of transformations through cremation on social relations and concepts of personhood, and the potential parallels between burning and burying bodies, structures, and material items.”—Christopher B. Rodning, Tulane University