Skip to content Skip to navigation

Sacred Darkness: A Global Perspective on the Ritual Use of Caves

Date of Publication: 


About the Book:

Caves have been used in various ways across human society, but despite the persistence within popular culture of the iconic caveman, true caves were never used primarily as habitation sties for early humans. Rather in both ancient and contemporary contexts, caves have served primarily as ritual sties. In Sacred Darkness, contributors use archaeological evidence as well as ethnographic studies of modern ritual practices to explore the place of caves within cosmology, religion, and the sociopolitical structure of cultures that span the globe.

Studying ritual use of caves in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Mesoamerica, and the US Southwest and Eastern woodlands, this book brings together twenty-nine papers by prominent scholars whose research spans from the Paleolithic period to the present day. Using surveys, case studies, ethnographic research, and synthetic analyses organized geographically, contributors demonstrate that cave sites are as potentially fruitful as surface contexts in promoting the understanding of both ancient and modern cultures.

This state–of–the–art survey of ritual cave use will be one of the most valuable resources for understanding the role of caves in studies of religion, sacred landscape, or cosmology, and a must-read for any archaeologist interested in caves.


About the Author:

Holley Moyes is an associate professor of anthropology and affiliate member of cognitive and information sciences at the University of California, Merced.


Link to buy the book:

Editor: Holley Moyes