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By Allan Kellehear

Our studies of death were formed through historic principles approximately demise and social accountability on the finish of lifestyles. From Stone Age principles approximately loss of life as otherworld trip to the modern Cosmopolitan Age of death in nursing houses, Allan Kellehear takes the reader on a 2 million yr trip of discovery that covers the most important demanding situations we are going to all finally face: waiting for, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths. it is a significant assessment of the human and scientific sciences literature approximately human demise behavior. The historic process of this ebook locations our contemporary photographs of melanoma demise and therapy in broader ancient, epidemiological and international context. Professor Kellehear argues that we're witnessing an increase in shameful different types of death. it isn't melanoma, center sickness or scientific technological know-how that offers sleek demise behavior with its maximum ethical exams, yet really poverty, getting older and social exclusion.

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In this context then, only some of what we are accustomed to view as mortuary rites actually are, while many of these THE DAWN OF MORTAL AWARENESS 25 rites, especially the early parts of them, may in fact be community rites that support the ‘dying person’ during their dying as otherworld journey. To understand the full range of possible meanings about ‘dying’ in the Stone Age, then, we need to examine the social and physical experience of possible pre-death and post-death meanings. This makes a religious understanding of the death-to-ancestor meanings just as crucial as any medical and social indicators of dying-before-death experiences during this period.

These were common mortuary practices in Europe, North America and Asia (Larsson 1994). At 10 000 years ago we have good evidence of elaborate food and decorations inside graves, of the dead being dressed in elaborate ways, of differential burials based on status, or even possibly the elicited grief (see Cullen 1995; Cauwe 2001; McDonald 2001). And if graves and grave goods are insufficient evidence of prehistoric beliefs in a life beyond the body, there is also the controversial evidence of cave painting.

But beyond that mortal awareness, and as part of our growing human self-consciousness, we gradually became aware of the actual prospect of personal death. In other words, in the face of great biological, interpersonal or interspecies threat we were probably always aware of those series of moments or minutes of our own dying. As we bled to death in giving birth, or encountered great injury during a hunting accident, or during a murderous piece of treachery against ourselves, we knew in those moments that our death was very near.

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