Mortuary archaeology is the study of the social processes and cultural practices between death and burial (and sometimes beyond). Bodies, graves, objects, and burial monuments all provide important material evidence that archaeologists use to understand life and death in past societies. Mortuary practices mediate social norms, relationships, and identities in the past. From a methodological perspective, I emphasize the temporal and spatial relationships among the material traces of mortuary behavior. Combining radiocarbon dating, network analyses, geospatial techniques, and chemical sourcing of grave goods, a scientific approach to the funerary record provides important data necessary to test theories and hypotheses about the roles of mortuary practices in the past. My work on mortuary archaeology has primarily focused on prehistoric Romania and Ireland.
In recent decades, scientific innovations have made it possible to develop increasingly detailed biographies from skeletons. Working with a large collaborative team of specialists, I examine the lives of people in the past through osteological analyses of age, sex, health, and trauma, isotopic analyses of prehistoric diet and mobility, FTIR analysis of cremated remains, and ancient DNA. I currently co-direct the MARBAL Project, a bioarchaeological and mortuary archaeological investigation into the emergence of social inequality in Bronze Age Transylvania.
Beck, J., H. Ciugudean, and C.P. Quinn
2020 Bioarchaeology and Mountain Landscapes in Transylvania’s Golden Quadrangle. Bioarchaeology International 4(2): 89-110.
Quinn, C.P. and J. Beck
2016 Essential Tensions: A Framework for Exploring Inequality through Mortuary Archaeology and Bioarchaeology. Open Archaeology 2(1):18-41.
2015 Returning and Reuse: Diachronic Perspectives on Multi-Component Cemeteries and Mortuary Politics at Middle Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Tara, Ireland. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 37:1-18.
Kuijt, I., C.P. Quinn, and G. Cooney
2014 Transformation by Fire: The Archaeology of Cremation in Cultural Context. Amerind Series at the University of Arizona Press: Tucson.
Quinn, C.P. and I. Kuijt
2013 The Tempo of Life and Death During the Early Bronze Age at the Mound of the Hostages, Tara. In: Tara: From the Past to the Future. M. O’Sullivan (ed.). pp. 154-164. Wordwell and UCD School of Archaeology: Bray, Co. Wicklow.
Kuijt, I. and C.P. Quinn
2013 Biography of the Neolithic Body: Tracing Pathways to Cist II, Mound of the Hostages, Tara. In: Tara: From the Past to the Future. M. O’Sullivan (ed.). pp. 130-143. Wordwell and UCD School of Archaeology: Bray, Co. Wicklow.