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Celebrations of Death:
This revised edition of a cross-cultural study of rituals surrounding death has become a standard text in anthropology, sociology, and religion. Part of its fascination and success is that in understanding other people's death rituals we are able to gain a better understanding of our own. Peter Metcalf and Richard Huntington refer to a wide variety of examples from different continents and epochs. They compare the great tombs of the Berawan of Borneo and the pyramids of Egypt, or the dramas of medieval French royal funerals and the burial alive of the Dinka "masters of the spear" in the Sudan, and other burials which at first sight seem to have little in common. Many of these cases are anthropological classics, and the authors use these examples partly in order to illustrate the many different ways in which anthropologists have tried to interpret these rites. A new introduction reviews theoretical developments in the anthropological study of death since the book first appeared in 1979. [via]