1st Edition

Indo-European Fire Rituals Cattle and Cultivation, Cremation and Cosmogony

By Anders Kaliff, Terje Oestigaard Copyright 2023
    224 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Indo-European Fire Rituals is a comparative study of Indo-European fire rituals from modern folklore and ethnography in Scandinavia and archaeological material in Europe from the Bronze Age onwards to the Vedic origins of cosmos in India and today’s cremations on open pyres in Hinduism.

    Exploring Indo-European fire rituals and sacrifices throughout history and fire in its fundamental role in rites and religious practices, this book analyses fire rituals as the unifying structure in time and space in Indo-European cultures from the Bronze Age onwards. It asks the question how and why was fire the ultimate power in culture and cosmology? Fire as an agent and divinity was fundamental in all major sacrifices. In Europe, ritual fires in relation to agriculture and fertility may also explain the enigma of cremation. Cremated remains were ground and used in fertility rituals, and ancestral fires played an essential role in metallurgy and the creation of cosmos. Thus, the role of fire rituals in culture and cosmology enables a unique understanding of historic developmental processes.

    For students and academics studying Indo-European culture history from the Bronze Age onwards, this book has a broad interdisciplinary audience including archaeology, ethnography, folklore, religious and Indo-European studies.

    1: Fire rituals and the Indo-European Heritage; 2: Hearts in hearths – ancestors and deities; 3: Seasonality and fire festivals; 4. Cremation and cultivation in the North; 5. Fires from heaven – The links between East and West; 6. The Indo-Iranian culture and its rituals of fire; 7. Cremation, sacrifice and cosmogony in Hinduism


    Anders Kaliff is professor of archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University. Kaliff’s main academic expertise is Scandinavian Bronze and early Iron Age with special focus on interpretations of funerals, ritual practice and cosmology. He has a broad international experience with excavations and research projects, among other places, in Jordan and Estonia. Kaliff is a working member of the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy and the Nathan Söderblom Society.

    Terje Oestigaard is Docent in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, Sweden. He started his early career with fieldworks in Nepal, India and Bangladesh before working with water, life and death along the Nile River for many years. Throughout his research, he has had a particular focus on funerals and rituals, in general, and cremations and sacrifices, in particular. In recent years, he has also focused on the rich Nordic ethnography and how this links to broader Indo-European questions and historic development processes.