The History of Death

Type: Books

Michael Kerrigan

Paperback, 192 pages

Death may be universal, but just as every culture has found ways of living differently, they have also found different - and sometimes extraordinary- ways to deal with dying and the effect it has on those left behind. This wide-ranging book examines the compelling subject of death and burial in various cultures, societies, and ages. It considers the rituals surrounding death, including: the drama of medieval French royal funerals; the live burials of the Dinka people in Sudan; facing death with a 5000-strong terra-cotta army, as Chinese emperor Shihuangdi did in 260 BC; and the elaborate mausolea of wealthy Victorians. Covering all periods of history and religions, The History of Death also examines the differing approaches to funerals, whether solemn, celebratory, druken, or even sexually promiscuous. It illuminates the interconnection between the earthly and the spiritual in funeral rites; the practices of human sacrifice and ritual killing; the process of grieving, burial, cremation, and remembrance; and the many differing notions of life after death. However, far from being a morbid investigation, The History of Death balances grim facts with intriguing details drawn from many places and epochs. An intelligent and sensitive study, The History of Death includes more than 100 remarkable photographs and artworks of representations of death and funeral rites.