Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Nails For The Dead: A Polysemic Account Of An Ancient Funerary Practice

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this chapter

+ Tax (if applicable)

Chapter Summary

Italian scholars have recently re-opened an old debate about the function of nails discovered in Greek and Roman cremation and inhumation tombs. This chapter offers a summary survey of the archaeological material, mainly in the western part of the Roman Empire, followed by evaluation of the discussion it has evoked. Some nails found inside graves were purely utilitarian: they are carpenter's nails, used for joining timber, either of the coffin or of the bier used to transport the corpse to the pyre. Nails are 'good to think'. Moreover, the mere act of driving nails into a material surface can be evoked in many different ways. The ritual deposition of nails in graves seems mainly to have been apotropaic, protective/defensive, or a mixture of both.

Keywords: archaeological material; nails; Roman Empire



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Magical Practice in the Latin West — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation