A context for concealment: the historical archaeology of folk ritual and superstition in Australia

Heather Burke, Susan Arthure, Cherrie De Leiuen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Are there traditions of folk ritual practice in Australian historical contexts, and are they observable in the archaeological record? Studies from the US and UK have documented a range of practices suggesting the persistence of British and European traditions of folk magic well into the twentieth century and previous historical work has identified numerous examples of ritual concealments in Australian buildings. In examining over 4,500 Australian historical archaeological sources, however, we found very few examples of possible folk ritual practices. This raises the question of why such practices are not being captured by current archaeological recording methods. As counterpoint, a general model is constructed from US, UK and Australian work that raises intriguing possibilities for the situating of superstitious behavior in Australian historical archaeology, including the contexts in which people might be more prone to practise such behaviors and how they might be materially identifiable.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-72
    Number of pages28
    JournalInternational Journal of Historical Archaeology
    Volume20
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

    Keywords

    • Apotropaia
    • Charms
    • Concealed objects
    • Folk ritual
    • Folk traditions
    • Superstition

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