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Being Ritual in Mesolithic Britain and Ireland: Identifying Ritual Behaviour Within an Ephemeral Material Record

Blinkhorn, E; Little, A; (2018) Being Ritual in Mesolithic Britain and Ireland: Identifying Ritual Behaviour Within an Ephemeral Material Record. Journal of World Prehistory , 31 (3) pp. 403-420. 10.1007/s10963-018-9120-4. Green open access

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Abstract

Acceptance of ritual as a valid interpretation of Mesolithic behaviour has slowly emerged over the past decade; the ‘silly season’ heralded by Mellars (Antiquity 83:502–517, 2009) has not materialised, though in Ireland and Britain difficulties persist in defining what might constitute ‘ritual’ away from the graveside. New discoveries from both the development-led and academic sectors enable Mesolithic archaeologists to better establish which elements of the archaeological record can be interpreted as ritual. This paper seeks to identify further strands of ritual behaviour, incorporating evidence from sites without organic remains. We consider the evidence for ritual at the site and feature scales, and in the special treatment of objects—an often overlooked body of data in understanding ritual. Thus the material signature of ritual will be questioned, and ways in which Mesolithic ritual can be rehabilitated and expanded will be explored.

Type: Article
Title: Being Ritual in Mesolithic Britain and Ireland: Identifying Ritual Behaviour Within an Ephemeral Material Record
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10963-018-9120-4
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10963-018-9120-4
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2018. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Ritual, Mesolithic, Britain, Ireland, Mundane
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology ASE
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10060651
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