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The ancient landscape of North Asia gave rise to a mythic narrative of birth, death, and transformation that reflected the hardship of life for ancient nomadic hunters and herders. Of the central protagonists, we tend to privilege the hero hunter of the Bronze Age and his re-incarnation as a warrior in the Iron Age. But before him and, in a sense, behind him was a female power, half animal, half human. From her came permission to hunt the animals of the taiga, and by her they were replenished. She was, in other words, the source of the hunter's success. The stag was a latecomer to this tale, a complex symbol of death and transformation embedded in what ultimately became a struggle for priority between animal mother and hero hunter. From this region there are no written texts to illuminate prehistory, and the hundreds of burials across the steppe reveal little relating to myth and belief before the late Bronze Age. What they do tell us is that peoples and cultures came and went, leaving behind huge stone mounds, altars, and standing stones as well as thousands of petroglyphic images. With The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals, Esther Jacobson-Tepfer uses that material to reconstruct the prehistory of myth and belief in ancient North Asia. Her narrative places monuments and imagery within the context of the physical landscape and by considering all three elements as reflections of the archaeology of belief. Within that process, paleoenvironmental forces, economic innovations, and changing social order served as pivots of mythic transformation. With this vividly illustrated study, Jacobson-Tepfer brings together for this first time in any language Russian and Mongolian archaeology with prehistoric representational traditions of South Siberia and Mongolia in order to explore the non-material aspects of these fascinating prehistoric cultures.
Fitful Histories and Unruly Publics re-examines the relationship between Eurasia’s past and present, demonstrating that social life in ancient Eurasia was considerably more unruly than research has traditionally allowed.
The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial reviews the current state of mortuary archaeology and its practice, highlighting its often contentious place in the modern socio-politics of archaeology. It contains forty-four chapters which focus on the history of the discipline and its current scientific techniques and methods. Written by leading, international scholars in the field, it derives its examples and case studies from a wide range of time periods, such as the middle palaeolithic to the twentieth century, and geographical areas which include Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Combining up-to-date knowledge of relevant archaeological research with critical assessments of the theme and an evaluation of future research trajectories, it draws attention to the social, symbolic, and theoretical aspects of interpreting mortuary archaeology. The volume is well-illustrated with maps, plans, photographs, and illustrations and is ideally suited for students and researchers.

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