Meet the ‘Invisible Dead’ Project Team

Welcome to the the ‘Invisible Dead’ Project blog.

Over the next year and a half we will be using this blog to update our followers on new discoveries, events and conferences within the world of mortuary archaeology and death studies.

The project, based at Durham University and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, began in October 2013 and will run until September 2014.  It involves a team of specialists; Principal Investigator Professor Chris Scarre (prehistory of western Europe) and Co-Investigators Professors Graham Philip (Levant), Charlotte Roberts (skeletal analysis) and Douglas Davies (anthropologist and theologian). Two post-doctoral researchers are also working on the project: Dr. Jennie Bradbury and Dr. Mandy Jay, specialising in the Levant and in Britain respectively.

Aims of the project

By examining archaeological data from across two regions (Britain and the Levant) this project will provide a new understanding of the emergence of religious belief and self-awareness over the past 12,000 years. We will chart the changing concepts of what it meant and means to be human and the ways in which this can be interpreted through the archaeological record. By exploring traditions, which we might today find unusual, such as moving body parts from one place to another or depositing them in separate locations, we will question whether inhumation and cremation, comparable to our modern practices, are relatively recent. When did ‘individualised’ concepts of the body emerge and to what extent are the dead really ‘Invisible’?

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