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The Sacred Body (Hardback)

Materializing the Divine through Human Remains in Antiquity

Ancient History > Prehistory > European Prehistory P&S History > Archaeology > Osteoarchaeology

By Nicola Laneri
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Material Religion in Antiquity
Pages: 160
Illustrations: b/w
ISBN: 9781789255188
Published: 15th May 2021
Casemate UK Academic



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The human body serves as a symbolic bridge between communities of the living and the divine. This is clearly evident in mythological stories that recount the creation of humans by deities within ancient and contemporaneous societies across a very broad geographical environment. In certain circumstances, parts of selected humans can become an ideal proxy for connecting with the supernatural, as demonstrated by the cult of human skulls in Near Eastern Neolithic communities, as well as the cult of relics of Christian saints from the early Christian era.


To go deeper into this topic, this volume undertakes a cross-cultural investigation of the role played by both humans and human remains in creating forms of relationality with the divine in antiquity. This approach highlights how the human body can be envisioned as part of a broader materialisation of religious beliefs that is based on connecting different realms of materiality in the perception of the supernatural by communities of the living.

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About Nicola Laneri

Nicola Laneri is Director of the School of Religious Studies at CAMNES/Lorenzo de’ Medici (Florence). He taught Archaeology of the Ancient Near East at the University of Catania, the University of Chicago, the Middle Eastern Technical University of Ankara and the Oriental Institute of Naples. From 2003 until 2016, he has been the director of the Hirbemerdon Tepe Archaeological Project (southeastern Turkey). He has published more than 80 scientific articles in journals and books.

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