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De la récurrence à la norme: interpréter les pratiques funéraires en préhistoire

Abstract : Understanding societal conceptions of death presents a unique challenge to prehistorians because they cannot witness first-hand the funerary practices that interest them. Rather, they are limited to studying the physical traces left behind by such practices. However, we wish to move beyond description towards interpretation, because what interests us is not simply the individual practices (or even sets of practices), but the system that unifies them and imbues them with meaning. To unravel these systems, it is important to bear in mind that not all of the acts documented in the material record were obligatory. While there is the “devoir-faire” (what must be done), there also exists the “pouvoir-faire” (what can be done). The archaeologist must carefully categorize these practices: identify their frequency (from what is never done to what is always done), as well as make correlations among the essential elements of the burial. The obvious difficulty emerges when it is time to connect the archaeological interpretation to the reality of the original funerary practices. We explore three approaches that are drawn from our individual research. The definition of the norm within a given region leads us to question more closely the criteria by which groups are defined. Next, we explore the range of variability that can be reasonably expected within a single group. Finally, we examine the degree to which norms either remain stable or change through time, as well as the interactions between funerary practices and other aspects of the society.
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Fanny Bocquentin, P. Chambon, Isabelle Le Goff, J. Leclerc, J.-G Pariat, et al.. De la récurrence à la norme: interpréter les pratiques funéraires en préhistoire. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, Springer Verlag, 2010, 22 (3-4), pp.157-171. ⟨hal-02010707⟩

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