Theme 11: Religion and Spirituality
Timothy Insoll (Manchester University)
Fundamental to human ontology since prehistory have been concepts of spirituality. Relevant beliefs have taken many forms and have generated a diverse archaeological legacy. Landscape, architecture, burial, settlement, diet, art, the human body, perception of the world, can all be influenced by religion and spirituality. Varied approaches have also been adopted in exploring religion and spirituality in archaeological contexts. Consensus does not always exist in the terminology employed – spirituality, religion, religiosity, belief, ritual etc. – or in the degree to which they are applicable archaeologically. Different theoretical perspectives and methodologies have also been adopted according to religious ‘types’ or beliefs – ‘world’, indigenous, literate, oral, living, disappeared – and whether viewed from an emic or etic position. Ethical considerations can be significant, sensitivities enhanced and controversies created where the focus is upon religion and spirituality. Ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, status; identities can be defined, structured, and suppressed by such beliefs. The ‘Religion and Spirituality’ theme seeks to explore these in a global perspective and across time. Sessions and papers that consider spirituality, ritual, and religion in all these dimensions and in both prehistoric and historic contexts are encouraged.