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By Richard Bradley

This attention-grabbing examine explores how our prehistoric ancestors built rituals from way of life and household actions. Richard Bradley contends that for a lot of the prehistoric interval, ritual was once now not a special sphere of task. relatively it was once the way various gains of the household global have been performed out until eventually they took on characteristics of theatrical functionality.

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Sample text

Although this phenomenon is found widely in Northern and Western Europe, it has been studied in most detail in Denmark, and it is here that it has raised most problems of interpretation. 23 THE IMPORTANCE OF ORDINARY THINGS Little is known about the arable economy of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods in Northern Europe, because the creation of formal field systems appears to be a later development. Although individual plots may have been defined by fences (Theunisson 1999), that process probably started in earnest during the first millennium BC and reached a peak in the Pre-Roman Iron Age (Nielsen 1984).

At the same time, it is important to distinguish between rituals that depend on successful performance, with all the scope which that allows for innovation, and those that follow a prescribed liturgy where there will be less room for manoeuvre (Humphrey and Laidlaw 1994: chapter 7). Much depends on the ways in which rituals are transmitted (Connerton 1989; Bradley 2002a). In traditional societies this process may well depend on the operation of social memory, but they can also be governed by written texts.

As we shall see, that is very revealing. In fact there seem to be two strands among modern conceptions of ritual. 13. One strand reflects the idea that rituals express fundamental propositions about the world and that they are strongly associated with religious beliefs (Rappaport 1999). For that reason they are often addressed to the supernatural. The other strand considers the outward characteristics of rituals and emphasises that these are really performances carried out according to certain conventions (Turner 1969).

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