Death is another country: Mortuary rituals and identity in Fazzan, Libya
2015-11-12T16:23:46Z (GMT) by
Death is universal and all societies have developed some kind of death ritual which serves as a formalisation of the death and an opportunity to mourn the dead. After the death of a person, there is the need to deal with both the emotional and physical aspects of death, including the disposal of the deceased. In modern times, death is removed from human experience. We are no longer constantly faced with death, and when we are it is presented in a sanitised form. The death of a family member, a friend, a neighbour, provides us with the experience of death and a reminder of our existence and certain extinction. Death rituals reaffirm the central beliefs within culture. They are drawn on previous practices and memories. Cemeteries and funerary monuments act as physical memories; they become the focus of rituals and tie them to the social memory. The Garamantes flourished in the region of Fazzan in the period c.500 BC- c. AD 500. Classical sources provides a first contact with this civilisation, although as discussed in this thesis, archaeology is offering the opportunity to combine what Graeco-Roman writers understood the Garamantes to be and what they have left behind. My interest lays with their mortuary rituals, the Garamantian way of death and how, at the time of death, the Garamantes saw themselves as one culture, following a similar pattern of behaviour across time and space. The analysis of the cemeteries, place (structures) and burial rituals, the treatment of the deceased and the offerings linked with death provides information on the cultural identity of the Garamantes and their and social values, which have been transmitted through the funerary record.