The Sacred Body

by Nicola Laneri (Editor)
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The human body represents the perfect element for relating communities of the living with the divine. This is clearly evident in the mythological stories that recount the creation of humans by deities among ancient and contemporaneous societies across a very broad geographical environment. Thus, parts of selected human body parts or skeletal elements can then become an ideal proxy for connecting with the supernatural as demonstrated by the cult of the human skulls among Neolithic communities in the Near East as well as the cult of the relics of Christian saints.

The aim of this volume is to undertake a cross-cultural investigation of the role played in antiquity by humans and human remains in creating forms of relationality with the divine. Such an approach will highlight how the human body can be envisioned as part of a broader materialization of religious beliefs that is based on connecting different realms of materiality in perceiving the supernatural by the community of the livings. Case studies on ritual aspects of funerary practices is presented, emphasising the varied roles of body parts in mortuary rituals and as relics. Other papers take a wider look at regional practices in various time periods and cultural contexts to explore the central role of the corpse in the negotiation of death in human culture.

Publication date
June 30, 2021
Page count
Paper ISBN
File size
31 MB