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The Nordic Africa Institute, Agrarian Change, Property and Resources.
2011 (English)In: The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion / [ed] Timothy Insoll, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 38-50 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Water in the archaeology of ritual and religion includes water as a perspective and water as empirical data. The life-giving waters in society and religion are the fresh waters in their many facets in the hydrological cycle. Water is always in a flux. The fluid matter changes qualities and capacities wherever it is, and it always takes new forms. This transformative character of water is forcefully used in ritual practices and religious constructions. Water represents the one and the many at the same time, and the plurality of ritual institutionalizations and religious perceptions puts emphasis on water’s structuring principles and processes in culture and the cosmos. Water is fundamental in many ritual practices and to conceptions of the divinities and cosmos in prehistoric religions, and consequently the study of water in ritual and religion may reveal insights into both what religion is and how devotees perceive themselves, the divine spheres, and their own religious practices and rituals. The pervasive role of water-worlds in society and cosmos unites micro and macro cosmos, creates life, and legitimizes social hierarchies and religious practices and beliefs. Water is a medium which links or changes totally different aspects of humanity and divinities into a coherent unit; it bridges paradoxes, transcends the differenthuman and divine realms, allows interactions with gods, and enables the divinities to interfere with humanity. Water is a medium for everything—it has human character because we are humans; it is a social matter but also a spiritual substance and divine manifestation with immanent powers; and, still, it belongs to the realm of nature as a fluid liquid. The hydrological cycle links all places and spheres together, and water transcends the common categories by which we conceptualize the world and cosmos (Tvedt and Oestigaard 2006). The religious water-worlds, cosmologies, beliefs, and ritual practices are evident in the archaeological record, mythology, and written sources. Hence, it is necessaryto identify different types of water, the particular qualities associated with each of them,and how water materializes as religious and ritual structures, practices, and beliefs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 38-50 p.
Keyword [en]
water, religion, rituals, archaeology
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:nai:diva-1474ISBN: 978-0-19-923244-4OAI: diva2:465942
Available from: 2011-12-15 Created: 2011-12-15 Last updated: 2011-12-21Bibliographically approved

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