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The Cemetery

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to take the reader, as it were, along the roads leading to the medieval Syrian cemetery and through its gates, to observe and discuss funerals and burial rites, the etiquette of mourning, the care for the perpetuation of the memory the dead in this world, and the securing of their well-being in the hereafter. The discussion will entail a study of notions of the reciprocal relationship between the living and the dead, of practices emanating from these notions, and of scholarly debates concerning those beliefs and practices. Wild and even violent behavior may occur in cemeteries, exposing social tensions and divides, and giving rise to conflict and schism. Yet, while resorting to communal, as opposed to private control of rites may help the community to deal with death and contribute to social cohesion, it may also create a new set of tensions.

Keywords: burial rites; funerals; medieval Syrian cemetery; mourning



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