RITUAL

Spiritual heritage is an important part of identity, bearing testimony to complex interactive relationships of former communities. For the time being, this is borne out most eloquently by the results of the research of cemeteries, which allow us to study funerary beliefs and rituals connected with the departure from earthly life. All known societies exhibit some form of burial rites, have a hallowed ground for their deceased members, and express their remembrance. The recognition of the defined rules of the burial rite are the result of beliefs the communities followed in burials, which again testifies to the existence of the relationship between the living and dead members of the community. The behaviour of the community toward its dead member may point to his/her identity and social status, in which different rituals may reflect relationships and statuses within one or more communities at the local and broader regional levels. In the framework of these investigations, death is also observed as a biological and cultural transformative phenomenon, and not a static representation of identity, being understood instead as a process during which the existing identities and relationships are reconfigured, and new ones are created. The study of cemeteries broadens the perspective in examining communities from everyday existential activities to the spiritual world and their attitude to death as an integral and unavoidable part of life. At the same time, the focus of research is narrowed down to the individual within the community, the dead, as well as living members responsible for the organization of the rite, whose identities are hidden in the symbolism of material remains. In these studies, in addition to analyses of the material legacy, a particularly important role is played by the results of interdisciplinary research (anthropological, zooarchaeological, archaeobotanical) conducive to the study of ritual activities that are not always recognized in archaeological finds.

Further testimony of spiritual heritage is provided by sacred places and landscapes formed by communities, which during prehistory are most often recognizable by hoards or the deposition of exceptionally valuable objects as an expression of belief in supernatural forces. Rituals, as an integral part of life, can also be followed in other forms – everyday/household rituals; rituals associated with the foundation of settlements, with the beginnings of certain actions or the building of new structures etc. During historical periods, the complex religious concept is materialized by the erection of sanctuaries, temples and churches, which represent the expression of beliefs of organized communities, becoming an integral part of their identity.

Churches, cemeteries and burial rites in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period
Burial rites and customs of Issa in the period between the 4th and 1st centuries BC
Late Bronze Age mortuary practices and society in southern Carpathian Basin (BAMPICa)
This website uses “cookies” to ensure you get the best experience while viewing our content… I accept.