Mobility and Monuments Lecture Explores Ancient Mortuary Practices

September 02, 2014

You can learn a lot about a people from their burial practices.

The next lecture in the Year of Arabian Peninsula series, entitled Mobility and Monuments in Ancient Arabia, examines how the people of the ancient Oman Peninsula disposed of their dead, and what this says about their social structure. This event will be held in Social Sciences 1019 on Thursday Sept. 4, 2014 at 12:30pm.

During the early 3rd millennium BC on the Oman Peninsula, the only permanent, built structures on the landscape were mortuary monuments to inter the dead. Despite extensive field research, there have been no actual settlements identified from this period, leading scholars to speculate about where the people who built these tombs lived and how they used the land.

By the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the people began settling in villages. During this period, a new type of tomb emerged. These were finely built tombs that sometimes encased hundreds of bodies. Rather than maintaining personal mortuary spaces, the people of the Oman Peninsula had adopted communal interment.

Join presenter Kimberly D. Williams, a skeletal biologist specializing in bioarchaeology, genetic epidemiology of growth and development, and spatial analysis, as she explores how mortuary archaeology can teach us about a wide array of human behavior in absence of a written history or settlements. In addition to traditional archaeological methods and modern geochemical analyses, this research uses spatial analysis to understand how people used and expressed themselves on the landscape.

Williams currently leads a National Science Foundation-supported project in northern Oman that is working to understand the culture of Bronze Age Oman.

Mobility and Monuments in Ancient Arabia is part of the Year of Arabian Peninsula. Be sure to attend all the other informative events that are part of the year-long Year of Arabian Peninsula.

-Patrick Harbin