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Culturing the Body: Past Perspectives on Identity and Sociality

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Culturing the Body

Past Perspectives on Identity and Sociality

Edited by Benjamin Collins and April Nowell

Foreword by Rosemary Joyce

326 pages, 65 ills., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80539-460-0 $149.00/£110.00 / Hb / Published (March 2024)

eISBN 978-1-80539-461-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“As direct evidence for body decoration and modification is scarce, due to the perishable nature of most of the measures, the authors in this book give examples of evidence how archaeologists can find and reconstruct body decoration, as well as what these practices mean for humans in relation to their individual and social identity.” • Ewa Dutkiewicz, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Archäologisches Zentrum


The human body is both the site of lived experiences and a means of communicating those experiences to a diverse audience. Hominins have been culturing their bodies, that is adding social and cultural meaning through the use pigments and objects, for over 100,000 years. There is archaeological evidence for practices of adornment of the body by late Pleistocene and early Holocene hominins, including personal ornaments, clothing, hairstyles, body painting, and tattoos. These practices have been variously interpreted to reflect differences such as gender, status, and ethnicity, to attract or intimidate others, and as indices of a symbolically mediated self and personal identity. These studies contribute to a novel and growing body of evidence for diversity of cultural expression in the past, something that is a hallmark of human cultures today.

Benjamin Collins is affiliated with the Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town. His research explores social networks and connections among past forager societies.

April Nowell is a Paleolithic archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria in Canada. She directs an international team of researchers in the study of Paleolithic sites in Jordan and collaborates with colleagues on the study of cave art in Australia. She is known for her publications on cognitive archaeology, Paleolithic art, the archaeology of children and the relationship between science, pop culture, and the media. She is the author of Growing Up in the Ice Age (2021).

Subject: ArchaeologyAnthropology (General)


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