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01/28/2020 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

The Death of the Individual:

Wholeness and Fragmentation in Ancient Greek Burials

Cicek Tascioglu Beeby

Ancient Greek beliefs about death and afterlife held firm on the notion that the deceased must receive burial in order to be accepted into the underworld. The manner of burial or the type of grave that received the deceased, however, appear to have been immaterial with regards to religious belief. Greek burial customs showed great variation regionally, temporally, or sometimes even within a single cemetery at any given time. Was the preservation of the mortal remains of the dead completely inconsequential in Greek religion? What level of care was shown to retain a degree of the bodily cohesion, individuality, and personhood of the deceased? This paper uses two case studies—the commingled inhumations in the crowded graves of Argos and the carefully sealed monolithic sarcophagi of Corinth—to explore the attitudes towards the human body after death in Greek thought and mortuary behavior.
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