Transformation by Fire: Changes in Funerary Customs from the Early Agricultural to Early Preclassic Period among Prehispanic Populations of Southern Arizona

Jessica I. Cerezo-Román, James T. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examine the changes in funerary rituals from the Early Agricultural period (2100 BC-AD 50) to the Early Preclassic period (AD 475-750) and how these changes concurrently reflect changes in social relationships between the dead, their families, and the community. The predominant mortuary ritual in the Early Agricultural period was inhumation, possibly emphasizing a variety of identity intersections of the dead and the mourners in the treatment of the body while creating collective memories and remembrances through shared ways of commemorating the dead. An innovation in funerary practices in the form of secondary cremation appeared in the Early Agricultural period and was slowly but broadly adopted, representing new social dynamics within the society. Thereafter, secondary cremation became the main funeral custom. During the Early Preclassic period, the variation in body position and the type and quantity of objects found with individuals decreased. It is possible that the vehicle for displaying different identity intersections changed and was not placed in the body, per se, as much as in previous periods. However, the transformation characteristics of these funeral rituals and the increase in community investment could have fostered the building or reinforcing of stronger social ties that highlighted a collective identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-151
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Volume85
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Early Agricultural period
  • Hohokam
  • Preclassic period
  • cremation
  • fire
  • inhumation
  • mortuary practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology

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