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The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic

Merrifield, Ralph

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ISBN 10: 0941533263 / ISBN 13: 9780941533263
Published by New Amsterdam Books
Condition: Fine Soft cover
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0941533263 This book is in new condition with very light cover shelf wear. No highlighting. No underlining. No marks in book. Bookseller Inventory # 0941533263NE

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic

Publisher: New Amsterdam Books


Book Condition:Fine

About this title


Like all human activities, ritual customs, intended to gain advantage or avert disaster by supernatural means, have left their mark on the archaeological record. Yet archaeologists are often reluctant to recognize evidence of behavior that has no obvious material purpose. Even where they realize that something unusual has occurred, they will put forward every other possible explanation in terms of accident or functional utility, however improbable.
For the first time, Ralph Merrifield systematically looks at the evidence for European ritual from prehistoric times to the present day. In examining different kinds of ritual, superstition and magic—whether animal sacrifice, offerings to earth and water, spells and charms, or antidotes to witchcraft—he shows how common patterns of activity have continued with little alteration over the centuries. Through fundamental changes of religious belief—from primitive animism to developed paganism, from paganism to Christianity, from traditional Catholicism to Protestantism, and even from religious faith to scientific rationalism—the same kinds of simple ritual have survived to give comfort and a sense of security.
Profusely illustrated, this provocative and readable study will not only be required reading for archaeologists at all levels, but will also appeal to all those interested in folklore and the oddities of human behavior.

About the Author:

Ralph Merrifield spent most of his working life as a museum archaeologist, first in Brighton, England and then in London. In retirement, he became deputy director of the Museum of London. As a widely recognized authority on Roman London, his London, City of the Romans, was hailed as an outstanding work.

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