Barry McNamara  |  Published October 17, 2023

Archaeology Lecture

On Oct. 23, guest scholar will look back 6,000 years at burial practices in Israel, Palestine.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Earlier this month, Monmouth College hosted a ceremony to dedicate a headstone for respected 19th century citizen Champion Miller, a former slave who bought his freedom.

YORKE ROWAN: Guest speaker is a research associate with the Oriental Institute at the University ... YORKE ROWAN: Guest speaker is a research associate with the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.But how were esteemed members of a community memorialized roughly 6,000 years ago?

Yorke Rowan, a research associate with the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, will provide that answer when he presents an archaeology lecture at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in Room 276 of the College’s Center for Science and Business. Titled “Death and Rebirth: Religious Change and Reincarnation during the Copper Age in the Southern Levant,” his lecture is free and open to the public.

Specifically, Rowan will discuss ossuaries – the ceramic and stone containers for the reburial of human skeletons. He’ll examine ossuaries invented during the Copper Age period, circa 4500-3700 BCE, in the southern Levant (Israel, Jordan, Palestine).

“The extended process from death to burial, and subsequent re-burial, inspired the invention of specialized containers for some members of the community,” said Rowan. “When, and why, did this change occur, only to disappear again by the Early Bronze Age? This phenomenon is examined in the context of rapid changes in Chalcolithic society, from large population growth to the expansion of diverse ritual activities.”

Rowan holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from the University of Texas and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia His most recent edited volume, Beyond Belief: The Archaeology of Religion and Ritual, draws together theoretical and methodological studies concerning ancient religion and ritual.

A National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem a decade ago, Rowan is preparing a monograph on the survey and excavations of Marj Rabba, the first site excavated as part of the Galilee Prehistory Project.

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