Éric Crubézy

At the Origins of Funerary Rituals Seeing, Hiding, Making Sacred Publication date : October 30, 2019

Eric Crubézy, a doctor and archeologist, is professor of anthropobiology at the Université de Toulouise-III, and directs the laboratory “Anthropologie moléculaire et imagerie de synthèse”, which gathers together archeologists, anthropologists, and medical examiners (CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier). After excavating funerary groupings on four continents and participated in a study on cemetery management in France, he is currently involved in the excavation of frozen bodies in north-eastern Siberia.

In our society, as in many others throughout history, and sometimes even within one family, the way we deal with the dead appears to reveal an incredible diversity that is intriguing. And yet…

Éric Crubézy has been excavating funerary sites for more than forty years on four continents, dating from prehistory to the present. Based on his own digs, he proposes here to connect practices as different as Christian cemeteries, Cannibalism, or the turning of the dead in Madagascar.

When one is standing next to one’s family and friends, or next to those who are responsible for the cadaver, three important stages indeed seem to be necessary: seeing the dead person; then hiding it, and finally, intellectually metamorphosing it or sacralizing it to turn it into a deceased being.

From prehistory to history, these three stages seem to be found in all funerary rituals: what do they teach us about humans’ relationship with death?