Flames of Transformation: The role of fire in cremation practices

Tim Flohr Sørensen, Mikkel Bille

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper explores the transformative power of fire, its fundamental ability to change material

worlds and affect our experience of its materiality. The paper examines material transformations

related to death as a means of illustrating the powerful property of fire as a materially destructive yet

socially generative and creative element. While fire has been widely discussed archaeologically as a

technological element, and recently coupled with the social and symbolic powers of pyrotechnology,

we focus on the sensuous staging of fire in disposal practices. The paper employs two case studies

focusing on cremation burial from Bronze Age (c.1300–1100 BC) and modern Denmark in order to

demonstrate widely different sensuous engagements with fire and its experiential significance in a

cremation context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)253–267
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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