Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Kirsten Green Mink

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Anthropology

Abstract

Mortuary populations are often replete with two types of individuals: the very old and the very young. Our interpretation of the archaeological record has the tendency to disregard these two populations, perhaps because we assume their positions in society are of little value in death, or simply because we do not understand the mortuary ritual afforded to them. The purpose of this paper is to examine the mortuary ritual afforded to a select cohort of individuals interred at the Missoula City Cemetery and to interpret their burials in comparison to epidemiological shifts in Missoula, Montana during a select time frame. By conducting an initial ground survey, and further data collection via the cemetery interment records, I have compiled a data set of 72 infants (aged stillborn to five years) interred in the Missoula City Cemetery between 1914 and 1930. These 72 burials were then evaluated based upon several criteria, identified through research, that possess meaningful significance in the interpretation of mortuary ritual. I hypothesize that the mortuary ritual afforded to infants will display lower levels of investment in times of epidemiological transition in which mortality rates among this age group are high. In contrast, I expect to note higher levels of investment in mortuary ritual in times when life expectancy of young infants in raised, and mortality rates are lowered. Infant burials are a complex and often misunderstood component of mortuary archaeology. This study utilized a sample of 72 burials of individuals aged stillborn to five years interred between 1914 and 1930 in the Missoula City Cemetery. These burials were then evaluated on information that could be gathered through above-ground survey alone. No excavation took place, rather observations made were based upon details of the headstone, location of the burial within the cemetery, and the cemetery interment records. This paper will attempt to provide a greater understanding of the unique mortuary ritual afforded to infants, as well as illustrate how an interdisciplinary approach between Public Health and Anthropology can provide invaluable insights into how epidemiological transitions impact culturally established mortuary rituals.

Category

Social Sciences

Share

COinS
 
Apr 17th, 10:40 AM Apr 17th, 11:00 AM

How Epidemiological Transitions Affect Mortuary Ritual: A study of infant burials in the Missoula City Cemetery

UC 326

Mortuary populations are often replete with two types of individuals: the very old and the very young. Our interpretation of the archaeological record has the tendency to disregard these two populations, perhaps because we assume their positions in society are of little value in death, or simply because we do not understand the mortuary ritual afforded to them. The purpose of this paper is to examine the mortuary ritual afforded to a select cohort of individuals interred at the Missoula City Cemetery and to interpret their burials in comparison to epidemiological shifts in Missoula, Montana during a select time frame. By conducting an initial ground survey, and further data collection via the cemetery interment records, I have compiled a data set of 72 infants (aged stillborn to five years) interred in the Missoula City Cemetery between 1914 and 1930. These 72 burials were then evaluated based upon several criteria, identified through research, that possess meaningful significance in the interpretation of mortuary ritual. I hypothesize that the mortuary ritual afforded to infants will display lower levels of investment in times of epidemiological transition in which mortality rates among this age group are high. In contrast, I expect to note higher levels of investment in mortuary ritual in times when life expectancy of young infants in raised, and mortality rates are lowered. Infant burials are a complex and often misunderstood component of mortuary archaeology. This study utilized a sample of 72 burials of individuals aged stillborn to five years interred between 1914 and 1930 in the Missoula City Cemetery. These burials were then evaluated on information that could be gathered through above-ground survey alone. No excavation took place, rather observations made were based upon details of the headstone, location of the burial within the cemetery, and the cemetery interment records. This paper will attempt to provide a greater understanding of the unique mortuary ritual afforded to infants, as well as illustrate how an interdisciplinary approach between Public Health and Anthropology can provide invaluable insights into how epidemiological transitions impact culturally established mortuary rituals.