Mortuary Practices, Cults, and Social Systems

A. Martin Byers

in Cahokia

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780813029580
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039183 | DOI:
Mortuary Practices, Cults, and Social Systems

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This chapter argues that, from the beginning, the same-gender/same-age cults have been autonomous communal cults. The evolution of the American Bottom, therefore, is largely the evolution of the arm's-length relations between the relatively autonomous cults and clans. The chapter also elaborates on the required mortuary and cult models to complete the theoretical framework required to interpret critically Cahokia and the American Bottom in these terms. It considers the theoretical perspective underwriting the Cemetery model as the funerary paradigm. It argues that the American Bottom mortuary data can be best treated as the expression of a complex mortuary sphere constituted by an integrated system of mortuary behaviors incorporating both clan-based funerary and cult-based world renewal rituals. However, a theory that can be used to interpret the mortuary data in these terms must be first elucidated. The chapter then postulates that the American Bottom mortuary record was the ritual outcome and medium by which both human and world renewal were accomplished simultaneously. The Mourning/World Renewal Mortuary model and the Autonomous Cult model are specifically reviewed. Moreover, a critical discussion of cults and social systems is provided.

Keywords: mortuary practices; cults; social systems; American Bottom; Cahokia; Mourning/World Renewal Mortuary model; Autonomous Cult model

Chapter.  13686 words. 

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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