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The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death Paperback – 1 Jul 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007291477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007291472
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Perceptive, radical and elegantly written. His quest for answers takes us on an extraordinary journey, like time travellers in the boneyards of history…All this is achieved with the style of a consummate storyteller.’ Bel Mooney, The Times

‘Like a thriller-writer he deploys cliff-hanging chapter endings. Like a good novelist he is unafraid of human emotion. As an archaeologist he knows how to sort and wash bones. As a thinker he restores dignity to these unnamed bodies by holding them compassionately with his words.’ Michele Roberts, Independent on Sunday

‘Sit back and revel in this riveting exploration of our collective ancestral psyche.’ Sunday Herald

‘Illuminating.’ Scotsman

From the Back Cover

Archaeologist Timothy Taylor has spent his life sifting through the relics of our ancestor's encounters with death: early historical accounts of sacrifice, ancient rituals with echoes in the present, monumental sarcophagi, and bodies discovered in caves, bogs and on mountains.

In 'The Buried Soul', Taylor brings together evidence of how the ancients saw their universe and asks how we came to have not only a sense of the afterlife but also an image of the soul. After we began to speak, but before we could write, Taylor suggests that early humans, in an astonishingly conceptual leap, divided the body from the spirit that animated it. Thus arose a series of rituals that attempted to placate, tempt, scapegoat, destroy or contain this potentially malevolent spirit.

In Timothy Taylor's radical investigation of the human soul we encounter vampirism, cannibals, near-death experiences, modern day human sacrifice and the mummification of Lenin. His search spans the entire period from our prehistoric evolution to the present and interweaves the author's own experience of bewildering death.

A breathtaking work of narrative power combining cutting-edge science, personal insight and scholarship, 'The Buried Soul' is a radical voyage into sepulchral worlds.

Praise for 'The Prehistory of Sex':

"Taylor has written an illuminating and immensely entertaining account of one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity."
'Mail on Sunday'

"An intelligent, well-researched contribution to our understanding of past societies and, by extension, of how we view ourselves
'Scotland on Sunday'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is very refreshing. It's a very scholarly account incorporating a huge variety of evidence about the theory and practice of death from both pre-historical and historical times. What the book doesn't do though, and this is the refreshing bit, is take on face value the kind of easy moral relativism that allows us to deal, apparently non-judgementally, with suggestions of abusive or otherwise unsavoury behaviour in past cultures. This is pretty challenging to those (like me) who have approached archaeological evidence with a sense of interest and wonder, but have maybe shied away from really engaging with the unpleasantness of some of the evidence. But I think the debate really benefits from this kind of unflinching analysis.
His arguments about the developing meaning of death in the very early days of humankind are interesting and, for the most part, convincing. Since he's got a great sense of dramatic tension (rare in writers of decent archaeological books - or at least the ones I've read) it's pretty unputdownable too, without ever straying into the kind of nonsense populist archaeological thinking that he clearly has little time for.
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By A Customer on 4 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am an archaeologist, educated to postgraduate level and I have had to plough my way through books as dry as dust to find some nugget of information. Of course, the way you use these books is to look up what you need in the index, go to that page, use what you require and ignore the rest. I picked up Tim Taylor's book, started it at page one and read it through to the end. Hand on heart I can honestly say it is the only archaeology book that I have read from cover to cover. But it's SO much more than about archaeology. Tim covers his own personal reaction to a death in the family in a searingly honest fashion and in trying to make sense of it, takes us on a journey of the relationship between humans and death. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Well researched and convincingly argued, Taylor presents an interesting hypotheis on attitudes to death,fertility and afterlife from prehistory through to the present.

Superbly written with the pace of a good novel and challenging throughout, I could not put the book down! It is the first archaeology related book that I have read from cover to cover (and no doubt will re-visit)since Mike Pitts 'Hengeworld' a decade ago.

I thoroughly recommend this publication to anyone interested in archaeology, anthropology or comparative religion although it is accessable to any curious individual.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book several months ago, however with university work and essays to do i could never find the time to sit down and read a book that wasn't to do with my course. Last night around 8pm i decided to give it a go and consequently stayed up all night and finished it around 4am. I just could not put it down. Absolutely fascinating, so well written and informative and easy to understand. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history, anthropology, archeology, geography or just simply human nature. Best book i have read in years hands down.
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating but disturbing book, not for the faint hearted. I read this when it was first published 2002 and everything that has happened to me since then has made the text more relevant and involving. Elegant and sensitively written, be warned - when you have read it you won't forget it....
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating. Purchased following a visit to Cheddar Gorge and the ancient man museum where quotations from the book engaged our interest. If you find prehistory interesting this is a good read
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