Consuming passions: reviewing the evidence for cannibalism within the prehistoric archaeological record
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The aim of this paper is to review a sample of the evidence for hominin cannibalism within the prehistoric archaeological record. The review aims to ascertain whether testable motivations and social contexts for prehistoric cannibalism can presently be offered through current interpretative techniques. This paper will also attempt to identify any discernable patterns to the act of cannibalism within the prehistoric record, whether these patterns are consistent across time and space, and will discuss the interpretive behavioural implications for any patterns found. This will be achieved through a comparative examination of six possible prehistoric cannibal sites from different temporal and geographical zones and hominin species, examined through a particular categorising system of signatures in order to identify the specific type of cannibalism conducted. An examination of cannibalistic practices within the natural world and the genetic claims for prehistoric cannibalism are also discussed here in order to place hominin cannibalistic practices in the wider contexts of time and nature to allow for a more objective review of the hominin evidence.
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