Chapter 3, ‘Mortuary metre’, considers the chronological construction of
sites, the development of cemeteries and the chronological transformation of
funerary display. Building on the new chronologies proposed by John Hines
and Alex Bayliss, and Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy, this chapter looks at
Spong Hill, Sewerby, Apple Down, Wakerley, Oakington, Deal and Orpington. It
also presents an in-depth investigation of the chronology at Dover Buckland
because this site has been central to previous discussions of early
Anglo-Saxon chronology. This chapter highlights discordant chronologies
within sites, highlighting the use of different rituals by different
identity groups within the same community.
Chapter 1, ‘Negotiating early Anglo-Saxon cemetery space’, provides an
introduction to the subject by describing how archaeologists have approached
early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. It uses this historiography as a foundation
upon which to describe several cemetery sites, starting with a double burial
from Oakington and then focusing on the description of two complete
cemeteries at Orpington, Kent and Apple Down, West Sussex. This chapter
illustrates the problem with traditional monothematic approaches and
describes how spatial layout, material culture and skeletal characteristics
can be used together to explore the social arena. It also defines the
philosophy that underpins the book. Based on interdisciplinary perspectives,
Chapter 1 explores the causal agency embedded in relationships, material
expressions of identity, transformative objects and aesthetic selection.
Artefacts exist within the social world, and so the sociology of shoes and
modern-day gravegoods are useful examples which are analogous to how more
ancient objects interfaced with people. Society is pluralistic, but its
physical remains are created from an amalgam of factors, including the
manifestation of identities and aesthetics derived from shared semiotic
‘The syntax of cemetery space’ (Chapter 2) describes cemetery organisation
thematically. This chapter introduces the structural language of the
cemetery and is the foundation of subsequent chapters. It starts by
describing pre-existing topography and introduces the use of spatial
statistics to identify distinct grave plots. The relative density of graves,
rows of graves, the orientation of graves and the rituals used within the
cemetery are alternative ways used to identify group affiliation(s). This
chapter also investigates patterns in the material included within graves,
and compares those patterns to the multiple methods used to organise
The Tomašica mass grave and the trial of Ratko Mladić
This article focuses on the judicial consideration of the scientific analysis of the Tomašica mass grave, in the Prijedor municipality of Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Often referred to as the largest mass grave in Europe since the Second World War, this grave was fully discovered in September 2013 and the scientific evidence gathered was included in the prosecution of Ratko Mladić before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Based on the exhaustive analysis of all the publicly available trial transcripts, this article presents how the Tomašica evidence proved symptomatic of the way in which forensic sciences and international criminal justice intertwine and of the impact of the former over the latter on the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of proceedings and the qualification of the crimes perpetrated.
The display of human remains is a controversial issue in many contemporary societies, with many museums globally removing them from display. However, their place in genocide memorials is also contested. Objections towards the display of remains are based strongly in the social sciences and humanities, predicated on assumptions made regarding the relationship between respect, identification and personhood. As remains are displayed scientifically and anonymously, it is often argued that the personhood of the remains is denied, thereby rendering the person ‘within’ the remains invisible. In this article I argue that the link between identification and personhood is, in some contexts, tenuous at best. Further, in the context of Cambodia, I suggest that such analyses ignore the ways that local communities and Cambodians choose to interact with human remains in their memorials. In such contexts, the display of the remains is central to restoring their personhood and dignity.
Sacralisation and militarisation in the remembrance of the ‘cursed soldiers’
Marije Hristova and Monika Żychlińska
Between 2012 and 2017, at the Ł-section of Warsaw’s Powązki Military Cemetery, or ‘Łączka’, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance exhumed a mass grave containing the remains of post-war anti-communist resistance fighters. Being referred to as the ‘cursed soldiers’, these fighters have become key figures in post-2015 Polish memory politics. In this article we focus on the role of the volunteers at these exhumations in the production of the ‘cursed soldiers’ memory. Following the idea of community archaeology as a civil society-building practice, the observed processes of sacralisation and militarisation show how the exhumations create a community of memory that promotes the core values of the currently governing national-conservative PiS party. We found that tropes related to forensic research and typically identified with cosmopolitan memory paradigms are used within a generally nationalist and antagonistic memory framework.
Debates on the relevance of repatriation of indigenous human remains are water under the bridge today. Yet, a genuine will for dialogue to work through colonial violence is found lacking in the European public sphere. Looking at local remembrance of the Majimaji War (1905–7) in the south of Tanzania and a German–Tanzanian theatre production, it seems that the spectre of colonial headhunting stands at the heart of claims for repatriation and acknowledgement of this anti-colonial movement. The missing head of Ngoni leader Songea Mbano haunts the future of German–Tanzanian relations in heritage and culture. By staging the act of post-mortem dismemberment and foregrounding the perspective of descendants, the theatre production Maji Maji Flava offers an honest proposal for dealing with stories of sheer colonial violence in transnational memory.