The Public Archaeology of Death - Howard Williams

The Public Archaeology of Death - Howard Williams

Grave Expectations: Burial Posture in Popular and Museum Representations

The Public Archaeology of Death - Howard Williams

Sian Mui [+-]
Durham University (postgraduate research student)
Sian Mui is a postgraduate research student in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University.

Description

Laying out the dead body in an extended and supine position is very much a taken-for-granted practice in the contemporary western world, and it is frequently assumed to be the universal standard posture for the corpse. As we expect corpses to be laid out extended and supine, this portrayal is widely replicated and perpetuated in art, popular media and museums. This chapter reflects on the reproduction of corpse postures in two seemingly very different contemporary environments: film/TV portrayals and museum reconstructions. Contending that our idea of the “ideal” burial position is historically and culturally rooted in the trajectories of burial cultures in Western Europe, this chapter discusses the role of cultural expectations in informing the visual imagination surrounding mortuary practices, and explores the methodological and interpretive implications of such expectations in both academic and public contexts.

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Citation

Mui, Sian. Grave Expectations: Burial Posture in Popular and Museum Representations. The Public Archaeology of Death. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 73-84 Jan 2019. ISBN 9781781795934. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34665. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34665. Jan 2019

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