MORTUARY PRACTICES / FUNERALS / CEMETERIES
Practices related to Death comprise behaviors that include a simple or highly elaborate set of practices that are extremely diverse from culture to culture since the Paleolithic times when humankind began to somehow treat the dead. Such practices constitute one of the significant fields of research in anthropology, because of embracing many concrete and abstract conditions such as the place of the human in the world in the cultural diversity context, social organization of communities, their norms, cosmology, and belief, or the status of individuals and various subgroups in communities. In general, researchers of the field have been investigating the ways or methods of treating the deceased in both archaeological and contemporary communities, and documenting the commonalities (such as bathing or burial) and rarely observed practices (such as endocanibalism or skull removal) in various societies. Many studies have revealed that death practices are related not only to the material remains of the deceased individual, but also to the journey of the dead's soul in the cultures having the concept of the soul, and to its relatives as well (such as mourning). Among the reasons that shape and diversify these practices, anthropological studies draw attention to the social or cultural understanding or perception of death as well as the response to biological death. As a type of transitional ritual, funeral practices effectively illustrate how the social response to death is organized. Findings obtained from the research of numerous cultures indicate that death practices are based on philosophical-religious notions such as beliefs about the spirit and the afterlife, universal rules and symbols, or the cause of disease and death. Several conditions like age, gender, or vertical and horizontal position of the deceased, or livelihood pattern, complexity level, and gender perception of the communities play a significant role in these practices as well.
Reference publication: Büyükkarakaya, A.M. (2020). Ölüm Uygulamaları (s. 845-846). Antropoloji Sözlüğü, Kudret Emiroğlu ve Suavi Aydın, Islık Yayınları, İstanbul.