Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Why did people invent ossuaries – the ceramic and stone containers for the reburial of human skeletons? In this lecture, we examine ossuaries invented during the Copper Age (Chalcolithic) period, c. 4500-3700 BCE in the southern Levant (Israel, Jordan, Palestine). The extended process from death to burial, and subsequent re-burial, inspired the invention of specialized containers for some members of the community. When, and why, did this change occur, only to disappear again by the Early Bronze Age? This phenomenon is examined in the context of rapid changes in Chalcolithic society, from large population growth to the expansion of diverse ritual activities.