The meaning of shamanism has been debated for almost three centuries, ever since the term was coined to describe the activities of those who attained altered states of consciousness in order to mediate between human beings and the supernatural world. The ritual practices that characterised these perceived contacts with the immaterial have left highly physical traces in the archaeological record of prehistoric peoples, and the potential for the recognition of shamanic belief systems in the past is w being realised as never before. In this timely collection, Neil Price provides a general introduction to the archaeology of shamanism by bringing together recent work on the subject. Blending theoretical discussion with detailed case studies, the issues addressed include shamanic material culture, responses to dying and the dead, shamanic soundscapes, the use of ritual architecture and shamanism in the context of other belief systems. Following an intial orientation reviewing shamanism as an anthropological construct, the volume focuses on the Northern hemisphere with case studies from Greenland to Nepal, Siberia to Kazakhstan. The papers span a chrological range from Upper Palaeolithic to the present and explore such cross-cutting themes as gender and the body, identity, landscape, social perceptions of animals, prehistoric 'art' as well as shamanic interpretations of rock art and shamanism in the heritage and cultural identity of indigeus peoples. The volume also addresses the interpretation of shamanic beliefs in terms of cognitive neuroscience and the modern public perception of prehistoric shamanism. This book is an essential study of ancient shamanism through its material remains. It serves as a source of front-line case studies for specialists, while making these discussions accessible to a broader public. Archaeologists, anthropologists, historians of religion and psychologists will find the volume a valuable work of reference, as will those interested in alternative religions and spiritual philosophies. Martin Appelt, Ekaterina Devlet, Thomas A. Dowson, Natalia Fedorova, Hans Christian Gull/ov, Sandra E. Hollimon, Peter Jordan, David Lewis-Williams, Martin Porr, Neil Price, Andrzej Rozwadowski, Patri
Neil Price is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. He has written extensively on the Viking Age, and has conducted research projects in France, Iceland, Russia and Sapmi (Lappland).