Diversity of Sacrifice

Form and Function of Sacrificial Practices in the Ancient World and Beyond

Edited by Carrie Ann Murray

Subjects: Archaeology, Anthropology Of Religion, Art History, Religion
Series: SUNY series, The Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph Series
Paperback : 9781438459943, 290 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438459950, 290 pages, June 2016

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Table of contents

The Value and Power of Sacrifice
Carrie Ann Murray
Part I. Defining and Redefining the Boundaries of Sacrifice
1. Anthropology and Sacrifice
Phillips Stevens Jr.
2. A View from a Fen: On the Concept of Sacrifice and the Possibility of Understanding Neolithic Wetland Depositions
Asa Berggren
3. Gifts from the Gods: A New Look at Some Weapons and Vessels from the Metal Ages
Christoph Huth
4. Post-Domestic Sacrifice: Exploring the Present and Future of Gifts for the Gods
Samantha Hurn
Part II. Sacrifice across the Mediterranean World
5. Every Good and Pure Thing: Sacrifice in the Ancient Egyptian Context
Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner
6. The Mythology of Carthaginian Child Sacrifice: A Physical Anthropological Perspective
Jeffrey H. Schwartz
7. The Art of Ancient Greek Sacrifice: Spectacle, Gaze, Performance
Tyler Jo Smith
8. Etruscan Human Sacrifice: The Case of Tarquinia
Nancy T. de Grummond
Part III. Exploring Exceptional Cases of Sacrifice
9. Human Sacrifice as “Crisis Management? The Case of the Early Neolithic Site of Herxheim, Palatinate, Germany
Andrea Zeeb-Lanz, Rose-Marie Arbogast,Silja Bauer, Bruno Boulestin, Anne-Sophie Coupey, Anthony Denaire, Fabian Haack,Christian Jeunesse, Dirk Schimmelpfennig, Rouven Turck
10. Dog Sacrifice at the Protohistoric Site of Mas Castellar (Pontos, Spain)
Enriqueta Pons, Lidia Colominas, Maria Saña
11. Understanding the Death and Burial of Northern European Bog Bodies
Guinevere Granite
Part IV. Formularizing and Regularizing Sacrifice
12. Sacrificing the Sign: The Alphabet as an Offering in Ancient Israel, or A Classicist’s Read on the Ritual Law of the Sotah
Roger D. Woodard
13. Ancient Greek Laws on Sacrifice
Michael Gagarin
14. In What Way Is Christ’s Death a Sacrifice? Theories of Sacrifice and Theologies of the Cross
S. Mark Heim

Explores sacrificial practices across a range of contexts from prehistory to the present.


The term "sacrifice" belies what is a complex and varied transhistorical and transcultural phenomenon. Bringing together scholars from such diverse fields as anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy, literature, and theology, Diversity of Sacrifice explores sacrificial practices across a range of contexts from prehistory to the present. Incorporating theory, material culture, and textual evidence, the volume seeks to consider new and divergent data related to contexts of sacrifice that can help broaden our field of vision while raising new questions. The essays contributed here move beyond reductive and simple explanations to explore complex areas of social interaction. Sacrifice plays a key role in the overlapping sacred and secular spheres for a number of societies in the past and present. How religious beliefs and practices can be integral parts of life on individual and community levels is of fundamental importance to understanding the past and present. In addition to aiding scholarly research, Diversity of Sacrifice enables students to explore this rich theme across Europe and the Mediterranean with clear discussions of theory and data.

Carrie Ann Murray is Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Archaeology at Brock University.