Book: The Five-Minute Archaeologist in the Southern Levant
Chapter: 42. What is Funerary Archaeology?
Funerary (or mortuary) archaeology can be summarized as the study of the world of the long dead. This includes the study of dead bodies, certainly, but also investigation into funerary rituals, mortuary landscapes, the stuff placed with the deceased in a grave, and a society’s beliefs about death and the afterlife. Funerary archaeology is therefore a complicated undertaking, and involves looking at the biographical, demographic, religious, social, and political dimensions of human burial—categories that are interrelated and sometimes conflicting, but which can help inform the questions we ask during each mortuary excavation.