In the Andes, a long history of research on burial records and burial contexts exists for the purpose of reconstructing cultural affiliation, chronology, socioeconomic status, grave content, and human body treatment. Less attention is paid to the larger question of how mortuary practices functioned in different cultures. Tombs for the Living: Andean Mortuary Practices (originally released in 1995) examines this broader issue by looking at the mortuary practices that created a connection between the living and the dead; the role of wealth and ancestors in cosmological schemes; the location, construction, and sociopolitical implications of tombs and cemeteries; and the art and iconography of death. By examining rich sets of archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistoric data, the thirteen essays continue to enrich our understanding of the context and meaning of the mortuary traditions in the Andes.
Tom D. Dillehay is Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.