From Plastered Skulls to Palliative Care: What the Past Can Teach Us About Dealing with Death

Lindsey Büster, Karina Croucher, Jennifer Dayes, Laura Green, Christina Faull


Modern, advanced healthcare detects and monitors long-term and life-limiting illness more comprehensively than ever before. Death is now, however, often considered as medical failure, and is a virtually taboo topic of conversation in daily life. At a time when the relevance of archaeology is under scrutiny, the AHRC-funded ‘Continuing Bonds’ project – a collaboration between archaeology and palliative care – explores the potential of the past to promote discussion. Not only does archaeology illuminate the diversity of practice surrounding death, the past provides a safe, distanced platform for considering death, dying and bereavement today. Through archaeological and ethnographic case studies, healthcare professionals explore topics such as place, choice and identity, in both personal and professional life. This paper explores some of the most thought-provoking materials and participant responses, and discusses the implications for contemporary society and for the ways in which archaeologists interpret mortuary practices of the past.


archaeology; bereavement; care; continuing bonds; death practices; palliative care

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Copyright (c) 2018 Lindsey Buster, Karina Croucher

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ISSN: 2171-6315

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