Randi Haaland and Gunnar Haaland

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology


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This article attempts to view environment from a ritual perspective. A ritual perspective on landscape is understood as one that focuses on the way people views their environment as symbolic expressions of basic values and cosmological ideas. It is assumed that ‘belief’ in such values and ideas is fostered primarily in non-verbal communication and in metaphorical and mythological forms of verbal communication. Two theoretical perspectives are outlined that are considered fruitful for interpretation of the ritual perspectives entertained in different societies. One sees understanding as based on ‘imaginative structures that emerge from our experience as bodily organisms functioning in interactions with an environment’. The other deals with special types of social process loaded with meaning — the so-called life-cycle rituals — where individuals' positions in society during a short period of time are dramatically changed both in the sense of changing rights and duties in relation to interaction partners, but also in the sense of being indoctrinated into new understandings of the nature of human and cosmological relations.

Keywords: environment; ritual perspective; basic values; cosmological ideas; verbal communication; non-verbal communication; life-cycle rituals

Article.  5953 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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