Unit 1 (95A) Archaeology of Religion and Ritual.
In this module students are introduced to the subject through the study of one of the key themes in world. The Archaeology of Religion and Ritual provides students with interesting and stimulating cognitive demands to set alongside the methodological and practical content of other modules and will enhance progression from AS to A2 studies. “Religion” and “ritual” focus respectively on belief systems and on actual activities related to such beliefs. There may be belief in a journey to an “afterlife” which demands that mortuary practices and their related structures (such as cremation and inhumation) including the provision of food for the deceased during such a journey or the construction of elaborate funerary monuments. Rituals may be a personal affair or may be a highly organized group activity with a clear structure of performance at special locations often in the hands of specialist religious and ritual organizations (such as the priesthood). Religious belief and ritual practice are often associated with symbolic expressions very often linked to art works, making use of symbols which allow differing interpretations according to the differential knowledge of the observer but capable of conveying strong messages through the images employed. Rituals can often be shown to have taken place at particular locations and/or in specific structures which often demonstrate association with the surrounding landscape and act as a focus of belief.