IntroArchaeologyUNEX

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Published on March 11, 2008

Author: Matild

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Archaeology, Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft UNEX XL 120A Spring 2007 Dr. Patrick A. Polk:  Archaeology, Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft UNEX XL 120A Spring 2007 Dr. Patrick A. Polk Divining the Supernatural in Archaeological Inquiry:  Divining the Supernatural in Archaeological Inquiry Human Context (spatial, cultural, historical, etc.) Intention (individual, collective, act of belief, tradition or customary behavior, etc.) Action (associated behaviors, ritualized or otherwise) Putting Labels On Intentions/Actions:  Putting Labels On Intentions/Actions Magic Religion Science Witchcraft Sorcery Faith Piety Sacrilegious Divination Heresy Shamanism Pseudo-Science Belief Superstition Occult Vernacular Religion Supernatural Numinous Magico-Religious Sacred Renfrew, “The Archaeology of Religion”:  Renfrew, “The Archaeology of Religion” Archaeology of the Mind: Supernatural is Significant Component of Human Symbolic Behavior Religion: Framework of Beliefs Relating to Forces that Transcend the Everyday Material World Religious Experience: Personal Understandings/Experiences of the Sacred or Numinous Mystery and Purpose in the Human Condition: Religion as System of Beliefs that Provides Answers to Fundamental Existential Dilemmas, Generally through Ritualized Actions Caveat: “Archaeological recovery of these belief systems may, in most cases, be exceedingly difficult” (p. 49) Social Aspects, Functions, and Consequences of Religion:  Social Aspects, Functions, and Consequences of Religion A Shared Belief System Social and Cultural Phenomenon The Archaeologist “hopes to define actions, ritual actions, which were carried out at specific places in special ways” (p. 49) Class and Economic Aspects/Conflicts Functionalist Interpretations Genetic Determination of Religious Behavior Religious Systems Can be Integral to Culture Change Recognizing Religion:  Recognizing Religion “The logic of inquiry must, I believe, start from the general properties of religious belief and of cult practice…” (p. 51) “But any archaeological recognition of ritual and hence of religion, is likely to be based upon such indicators…” (p.51) Archaeological Indicator of Ritual (See pp. 51f. for details) Focusing of Attention Boundary Zone Between this World and the Next Presence of the Deity Participation and Offering Defining Ritual:  Defining Ritual The basic social act Symbolic behavior that is standardized and repetitive Recurrent symbolic enactments, customs, and ceremonies The storehouse of a community's central values Values, beliefs and ideals put into action Slide8:  Prayers, curses, invocations, offerings, church services, meals, parties, initiations, graduations, inaugurations, celebrations, births, birthdays, weddings, divorces, holidays, parades, protests, commemorations, funerals, memorials, dressing, undressing, eating, etc. Essentially all areas of human endeavor have ritualized aspects and their fundamental cultural meanings are generally highlighted in key ritual moments/acts What Activities Are Rituals/Include Ritual Acts? The Iconography of Religion:  The Iconography of Religion “The most coherent insights into the belief systems of the past must come…from the analysis of symbolic systems” (p.53) Systematic Analysis When Symbolic Material is Rarely Abundant “The question is equivalent to asking whether the same system of beliefs, and the same symbolic system for linking the signifier and the thing signified, are in operation at the various sites” (p.54) Jonuks, “Archaeology of Religion”:  Jonuks, “Archaeology of Religion” Archaeological In-Joke: Unidentifiable Artifacts are Classified as “Cultic Objects” Data Sources for Estonian Prehistoric Religion: Folkloric Written Archaeological Folkloric and Written Sources:  Folkloric and Written Sources Tales, Songs, Chronicles, Sagas Have Religious Content that May Relate to Prehistoric Religiosity Oral and Written Tradition, however, is Dynamic and Impacted by Nationalistic and Historicizing Discourses Useful, but not Primary Sources of Data Archaeological Sources:  Archaeological Sources Burials/Graves Most Significant Landscape/Spatiality of the Sacred Find Material (e.g. weapons, jewelry, etc.) Monuments (temples, groves, sacrificial sites, etc.) Isolating Recurring Phenomena: Stone Graves with Cultic Constructions Pendants and Occupational/Social Status Important Aspects of Study:  Important Aspects of Study Religion is Dynamic and Undergoes Constant Changes Newer Phenomena are Fitted to Earlier Material Interdisciplinarity Rituality Definition of Key Terms View Prehistoric Religion as a General Framework Mullen, “Belief and the American Folk”:  Mullen, “Belief and the American Folk” Folklore Genre: Belief Intrinsic to Many Genres: custom, ritual, legend, memorate, charm, omen, divination, folk religion, faith healing, etc. “Belief suggests an abstract level of cognition, but in order to study it we must look at concrete practice and cultural expression” (p. 120) Conceptualizing Belief:  Conceptualizing Belief Religion/Superstition Folk Belief Literate/Illiterate Urban/Rural Official/Unofficial Organized/Unorganized Archaic/Contemporary Vernacular Religion Lived Religion Belief is a Crucial Aspect of Everyday Experience

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