There is a joke among archaeologists about the use of the term ‘ritual’. Basically, it seems to be a common thing that when an archaeologist can’t understand a site, when behavior is unique or when something unusually is found it is commonly described as relating to some type of ritualistic behavior. So if we have a society that buries all their trash around their houses, and then we find a trash pit on the outskirts of the settlement- this trash pit is said to be part of a ritual due to its uniqueness. Of course, not all archaeologists do that, and many of us are highly aware that just because it is a new find, it doesn’t mean its unique- it may just mean we haven’t found the other examples yet. It is important to look at all the available evidence from the site and interpret the evidence on the specific local and regional context. What appears ritual may be something more common than you think.
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