Untill we meet again... Late Bronze age cremation graves as a complex source of archaeological information



Year of publication 2017
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The most common form of the burial rite of the Late Bronze Age period in central Europe is cremation. The cremation remains are, together with other objects, deposited in the shallow grave pits. These graves are later on often disturbed by agricultural activities. The post-depositional processes (disturbance, contamination) and fragmentarity are the main limits for interpretation of this type of archaeological source. Less common is the deposition of cremation remains into large grave-pits matching, with the size and shape, the measurements of unburned human body, which are due to their substantive depth well preserved. When excavated by appropriate techniques, they provide new information about the burial rite and its complexity. Two sites from Moravia are used to demonstrate how correlation of archaeology, archaeobotany and zooarchaeology allows the reconstruction of the final phases of the burial. It shows that deposition of remains into grave was a series of consequent steps spread over a longer period of time. Detected is the selection and deliberate destruction of objects, the sorting and spatially discrete deposition of burned bones, fuelwood and other burned and unburned objects. The composition of plant macroremains substantially differ in each grave and also in each part of the grave. They allow the reconstruction of the sequence of the deposition, and inform on economic or ideological preferences attributed to the deceased. They also serve as a proxy for the reconstruction of the landscape and the scale of its deforestation. Cremation burials placed into large grave-pits have in the territory of central Europe a series of common attributes that can be observed and traced through time and space. Their interpretation point rather to the realms of symbolic systems, than to a simple social status of the dead.

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