Neil Price

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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Shamanism has been a contested topic in the history of ritual and religious experience since the first Western observations of the phenomenon, made in Siberia by Elizabethan English explorers in the mid-1500s and Russian exiles a century later. Recent decades have seen a resurgence in archaeological studies of shamanism, as the increasing general awareness of traditional religions has been matched by a corresponding expansion of research into ancient faiths, belief systems, and spiritual practices. But what actually is shamanism? This article begins by tracing the development of shamanism from the religion of indigenous peoples to its employment by academics. It then discusses Siberian shamanism and the populating of the Americas, Mesolithic and Neolithic mind-sets, and shamanic behavior and practice.

Keywords: religion; shamanism; archaeological studies; ancient faith; spiritual practices

Article.  9579 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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