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Forsaken Relics (Hardback)

The Ritual Practices Behind the Appropriation of Abandoned Artifacts from Antiquity to Modern Times

P&S History > Archaeology > Archaeological Method & Theory

Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Ancient Societies (MAtAS)
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 100 B/W illustrations
ISBN: 9798888571149
Published: 15th August 2024
Casemate UK Academic


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This fourth volume in the series Multi-disciplinary Approaches to Ancient Societies examines the intricate mechanisms of ritualistic appropriation of ruined and/or abandoned assets and artifacts. It explores how this process occurs in situations where there is legislation to regulate the appropriation of ownerless property, as well as in cases where such rules are either absent or contested, leading to disputes and conflicts. Every society has developed its unique ways of managing the re-appropriation of 'ownerless things' such as places and houses abandoned after conflicts, crises, or natural disasters, forsaken cemeteries, tombs, and forgotten goods. These practices often involve the use of ritualistic methods to mask the intent to appropriate abandoned artifacts.

The book aims to stimulate comparative analysis of this topic in both ancient and modern societies, profiling the identity of the ‘actors’ of appropriation, examining the definition of abandonment, and exploring the ritual aspects such as inventorying material, dedication to ancestors, and prayers to gods that legitimize the re-appropriation of places and goods classified as abandoned. Part 1 compares examples of the re-appropriation of abandoned cities following conflict in Roman and recent times in terms of physical re-occupation under new political regimes and the social repercussions of conquest at community level. Part 2 uses case studies to examine the effects of depopulation and repopulation on rural landscapes and Part 3 considers the post-destruction biographies of deliberately destroyed Neolithic Trypillian houses and the re-use of sacred and funerary spaces and grave stelae in the ancient world. Finally, Part 4 focuses on rites and supernatural agencies involved in the re-appropriation of abandoned properties and vacant inheritances.

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