International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2023 (Vols. 1-61)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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'Guarino M, 2023: PRACTICES OF DOUBLE BURIAL AND CULT OF DEAD IN THE CHURCHES OF NAPLES. Anthropologie (Brno) 61, 1: 49-67'.
The ritual of the double burial consists of a first temporary burial followed, some time later, by exhumation of the remains and their definitive placement in a second burial site, generally different from the first, often accompanied by a second funeral ceremony. The practice has survived to the present day in the modern cemeteries of Naples, directly derived from an ancient ritual widespread until the second half of the nineteenth century which took place in subterraneous chambers, under the floor of churches and convents. These hypogea were structured according to two organizational models: the terresante and the scolatoi, both of which aimed at favouring the decomposition of the corpses and reaching the state of skeleton. According to the procedure, once skeletonization was accomplished the skulls were displayed on a cornice present along the walls of the hypogeum, while non-cranial bones were placed in a common ossuary. At the base of the ritual there was an idea of death perceived not as a sudden event, but instead as a long-lasting process, during which the deceased went through a transitional phase, gradually passing from the earthly state to the hereafter. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of these funerary rituals was the liberation of the bones from the earthly element of the flesh, an indispensable condition to allow the definitive passage of the soul into the afterlife. This process also wanted to be exhibited and, therefore, in these hypogea the decomposition of the corpse was displayed to visitors. Through the progressive corpse's decay, the ritual was intended to visually symbolize the various stages of purification faced by the soul on its path towards the kingdom of dead, a destination considered reached only when the skeletonization was complete, and the definitive burial carried out. These practices provided the basis for establishing close relationships between the living and the dead, and fostered the development of cults that dealt with the dead. This article briefly reviews the structural organization of these underground sepulchral chambers, the funerary practices they housed and the forms of worship centered on the cult of dead which took root and developed within them.
Double burial – Terrasanta – Scolatoi – Mummification – Cult of souls in Purgatory – Cult of skull

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