Ancestor Cults

Timothy Insoll

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

Ancestor Cults

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This article focuses on ancestor cults and archaeology. The term ‘ancestor worship’, and to a lesser extent ‘ancestor cults’ carry a lot of baggage linked with evolutionary approaches to religion. In such evolutionary schema ancestor worship was seen as developing from animism and Spencer (1876), for instance, argued that at the root of every religion was ancestor worship. This epistemological background means that ‘ancestor worship’ and ‘ancestor cults’ can become meaningless empty categories ill-advisedly applied to archaeological contexts if caution is not exercised.

Keywords: ancestor worship; archaeology; religion; ancestor cults

Article.  6761 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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