Whether we know it or not, ritual pervades our lives, silently guiding our daily behavior. Like language, tool use, and music, ritual is a constituent element of what it means to be human, joining together culture, archaeology, and biology. The study of ritual, therefore, is a reflection on human nature and the society we inhabit.
In his book, Ritual: A Very Short Introduction, author Barry Stephenson explores ritual from theoretical and historical perspectives, discussing the places where ritual interacts with everyday life. Stephenson displays the ways in which ritual forms identity, transmits values and beliefs, and affects historical change.
Image Credit: “A Roman Triumph” by Unknown Engraver. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.