When you pick up a book and it has chapter headings such as “The edible dead”, “An unexpected vampire” and “A skeleton illuminated by lightning” you can pretty much surmise you are not going to be in for a dry reading experience. The buried soul: how humans invented death by Timothy Taylor (who also wrote The Prehistory of sex) is a scholarly yet entertaining adventure through the archaeology of death and how we humans have regarded it and interacted with it throughout our time on earth.
“When did humankind become intelligent enough to formulate the idea of the soul? Tim Taylor’s search for an answer combine cutting-edge science, personal insight and scholarship, and spans the entire period from our prehistoric evolution to the present. It is an extraordinary journey through vampirism, cannibalism, near-death experiences, modern-day human sacrifice and mummification.” note the publishers on the back cover.
With plenty of interesting stories and examples we learn how differently death has been, and is, regarded by different societies and individuals. Even just dipping your toe into this book will probably also make you think about your own attitude to death.
Taylor, Timothy (2002) The buried soul: how humans invented death. London: Harper Collins.
Classmark: GT3150.T2 (ASSL)