The Many Dimensions of Ritual

Marc Verhoeven

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

The Many Dimensions of Ritual


In recent years, ritual and religion have come to the fore as important areas of investigation in archaeology. There now even appears to be a sub-discipline called the archaeology of religion, which is probably due to the realization that ritual and religion were important and integral parts of life in ancient communities, and not dealing explicitly with these subjects will impoverish our understanding of them. Moreover, modern understanding of the practice and materiality of ritual and religion has resulted in a positive attitude towards the ‘eloquence’ of the archaeological record. This article makes a further contribution to this field by focusing on theoretical and methodological aspects of the study of ritual. It presents a general background with regard to two main questions: what is ritual and how can it be approached and reconstructed in archaeology? Given its long and rich research history on ritual, social anthropology shall play a major role as a ‘frame of reference’.

Keywords: archaeological studies; archaeology; social anthropology; rituals

Article.  7086 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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