Reconsidering Ritual in Archaeology.

David A. Barrowclough and Caroline Malone (eds).

Paperback 352 p, b/w illus, 8p col pls (Oxbow Books 2007, Paperback Reprint 2010). Publishers' price € 48.

Gods, deities, symbolism, deposition, cosmology and intentionality are all features of the study of early ritual and cult. Archaeology has great difficulties in providing satisfactory interpretation or recognition of these elusive but important parts of ancient society, and methodologies are often poorly equipped to explore the evidence. This collection of papers explores a wide range of prehistoric and early historic archaeological contexts from Britain, Europe and beyond, where monuments, architectural structures, megaliths, art, caves, ritual activity and symbolic remains offer exciting glimpses into ancient belief systems and cult behaviour. Different theoretical and practical approaches are demonstrated, offering both new directions and considered conclusions to the many problems of studying the archaeology of cult and ritual. Central to the volume is an exploration of early Malta and its intriguing Temple Culture, set in a broad perspective by the discussion and theoretical approaches presented in different geographical and chronological contexts.

Introduction: Cult in Context (Caroline Malone, David A. Barrowclough and Simon Stoddart);
Ritual and Cult in Malta and Beyond: Traditions of Interpretation (Colin Renfrew);
Maltese Temple Cult: The Antecedents (David Trump);
Of Giants and Deckchairs: Understanding the Maltese Megalithic Temples (Katya Stroud);
Ritual Space and Structure - the Context of Cult in Malta and Gozo (Caroline Malone);
Landscape and Ritual in Late Neolithic Malta (Reuben Grima);
Mapping Cult Context: GIS Applications in Maltese Temples (Michael Anderson and Simon Stoddart);
Putting Cult in Context: Ritual, Religion and Cult in Temple Period Malta (David A. Barrowclough);
The Maltese Death Cult in Context (Simon Stoddart);
From Cabiri to Goddesses: Cult, Ritual and Context in the Formative Years of Maltese Archaeology (Nicholas Vella);
Ephebism in Maltese Prehistoric Art? (Andrew Townsend);
Gender Tension in Figurines in SE Europe (Robin Hardie);
Religious Experience in the Prehistoric Maltese Underworld (Robin Skeates);
Underground Religion Revisited (Ruth D. Whitehouse);
The Phoenicians and the Maltese Prehistoric Cultural Landscape (Anthony Bonanno);
Cult of the Dead or Cult for the Dead: Studies of Jewish Catacombs in Malta in Context (Piotr Drag);
Architectural Order and the Ordering of Imagery in Malta and Ireland: A Comparative Perspective (Christopher Tilley);
Culture and Cult: Some Aspects of Passage Tomb Society in the Boyne Region, Ireland (George Eogan);
Working Stone: Making Monuments in the Irish Neolithic (Gabriel Cooney);
Towards the Within: Stonehenge and its Purpose (Timothy Darvill);
Walking the Track and Believing: The Sweet Track as a Means of Accessing Earlier Neolithic Spirituality (Clive Jonathon Bond);
Resting in Pieces: Deposition Practices at the Mound of the Hostages, Tara, Ireland (Muiris O'Sullivan);
Enclosing Places: A Contextual Approach to Cult and Religion in Neolithic Central Europe (Peter F. Biehl);
Carving Identity: The Social Context of Neolithic Rock Art and Megalithic Art (Blaze O'Connor);
Animism in the Rock Art and Material Culture of Prehistoric Siberia (Liliana Janik);
The Sacred Engagement: Outline of a hypothesis about the origin of human 'religious intelligence' (Lambros Malafouris);
Time, Cycles and Ritual Behaviour (Iain Morley);
The Shipping News: Land and Water in Bronze Age Scandinavia (Richard Bradley);
The Late Classic Drought Cult: Ritual Activity as a Response to Environmental Stress Among the Ancient Maya (Holley Moyes);
Cult in Cometary Context (Patrick McCafferty);
Cult in Context in Jomon Japan (Simon Kaner);
Bringing Down the Mountain: Standing Stones on the Northern and Central Tibetan Plateau, 500 BCE - 500 CE (Mark Aldenderfer);
The Meaning of Ritual Diversity in the Chalcolithic of the Southern Levant (Yorke Rowan and David Ilan);
Housing the Dead: Burials Inside Houses and Vessels in the Neolithic Balkans (Goce Naumov );
A Fire Cult in South European Chalcolithic Traditions? On the Relationship Between Ritual Contexts and the Instrumentality of Fire (Dragos Gheorgiu);
A Contextual Approach to Ancient Egyptian Domestic Cult: The Case of the 'Lustration Slabs' at el-Amarna (Kate Spence);
The Ultimate Redundancy Package: Routine, Structure and the Archaeology of Ritual Transmission (Camilla Briault);
The Dynamics of Ritual on Minoan Peak Sanctuaries (Alan Peatfield); In What Context? Competing and Complementary Approaches to Contextual Analysis in the Study of Minoan Religion (Matthew Haysom);
Broken Pots and Severed Heads: Cult Activity in Iron Age Europe (Sarah Ralph);
Contexts of Cult in Hispania Celtica (Silvia Alfayé);
The Role of Votive Objects in Roman Religious Practices Between the Fourth and Second Centuries BC (Letizia Ceccarelli);
'Totems', 'Ancestors' and 'Animism'. The Archaeology of Ritual, Shrines and Sacrifice Amongst the Tallensi of Northern Ghana (Timothy Insoll);
Towards an Archaeology of Performance (Jon P. Mitchell).

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