Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 74 pages) : color illustration, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sean M Rafferty

Committee Members

Robert M Rosenswig


Archaeology, Burial, Cremation, Mortuary Anaylsis, Northern Europe, Funeral rites and ceremonies, Ancient, Social structure

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


Changes in social organization can be studied through several different avenues one ofwhich is through mortuary patterns. Here we will be looking at changes in social organization during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in Northern Europe using mortuary and osteological data. If we study how each community interacts, mourns, stores, transports, and buries their dead then we can learn about the underlying mechanisms that transform and maintain a society, and gain insight into the societal and economical shifts of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age in this region. These changes will be determined by analyzing the distribution and use of cemeteries and graves, as well as analyzing funerary structures, pottery/ urns, grave goods, and osteological data from England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, and parts of Southern Norway, and Sweden to create a more holistic picture of Northern Europe during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age. Cremation is a mortuary practice that is considered common in today’s society, however, that hasn’t always been the case. Before recently, the Bronze Age and Iron Age in Europe was the most recent widespread use of cremation as a dominant mortuary practice. This paper will be employing the Saxe/Binford hypothesis that social organization can be inferred from mortuary patterns as well as the post-processual perspective that mortuary patterns reflect the real and desired social relations and ideology of a society (Parker-Pearson, 1982; Shanks & Tilley, 1982; Kristiansen, 1984).