You are on page 1of 209





Series Editor: Luiz Oosterbeek

VOL. 24


Babies Reborn: Infant/Child Burials

in Pre- and Protohistory
Edited by

Krum Bacvarov

BAR International Series 1832

This title published by

Publishers of British Archaeological Reports
Gordon House
276 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 7ED

BAR S1832

Proceedings of the XV World Congress of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences
Actes du XV Congrès Mondial de l’Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques

Outgoing President: Vítor Oliveira Jorge

Outgoing Secretary General: Jean Bourgeois
Congress Secretary General: Luiz Oosterbeek (Series Editor)
Incoming President: Pedro Ignacio Shmitz
Incoming Secretary General: Luiz Oosterbeek

Babies Reborn: Infant/Child Burials in Pre- and Protohistory, Vol. 24, Section WS26

© UISPP / IUPPS and authors 2008

ISBN 978 1 4073 0316 1

Signed papers are the responsibility of their authors alone.

Les texts signés sont de la seule responsabilité de ses auteurs.

Contacts :
Secretary of U.I.S.P.P. – International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences
Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Av. Dr. Cândido Madureira 13, 2300 TOMAR

Printed in England by Alden HenDi, Oxfordshire

All BAR titles are available from:

Hadrian Books Ltd

122 Banbury Road

The current BAR catalogue with details of all titles in print, prices and means of payment is available
free from Hadrian Books or may be downloaded from

The present volume is part of a series of proceedings of the XV world congress of the
International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP / IUPPS), held in
September 2006, in Lisbon.

The Union is the international organization that represents the prehistoric and protohistoric
research, involving thousands of archaeologists from all over the world. It holds a major
congress every five years, to present a “state of the art” in its various domains. It also
includes a series of scientific commissions that pursue the Union’s goals in the various
specialities, in between congresses. Aiming at promoting a multidisciplinary approach to
prehistory, it has several regional or thematic associations as affiliates, and on its turn it is a
member of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (an organism
supported by UNESCO).

Over 2500 authors have contributed to c. 1500 papers presented in 101 sessions during the
XVth world Congress of UISPP, held under the organisation of the Polytechnic Institute of
Tomar. 25% of these papers dealt with Palaeolithic societies, and an extra 5% were related
to Human evolution and environmental adaptations. The sessions on the origins and spread
of hominids, on the origins of modern humans in Europe and on the middle / upper
Palaeolithic transition, attracted the largest number of contributions. The papers on Post-
Palaeolithic contexts were 22% of the total, with those focusing in the early farmers and
metallurgists corresponding to 12,5%. Among these, the largest session was focused on
prehistoric mounds across the world. The remaining sessions crossed these chronological
boundaries, and within them were most represented the regional studies (14%), the
prehistoric art papers (12%) and the technological studies (mostly on lithics – 10%).

The Congress staged the participation of many other international organisations (such as
IFRAO, INQUA, WAC, CAA or HERITY) stressing the value of IUPPS as the common
ground representative of prehistoric and protohistoric research. It also served for a relevant
renewal of the Union: the fact that more than 50% of the sessions were organised by
younger scholars, and the support of 150 volunteers (with the support of the European
Forum of Heritage Organisations) were in line with the renewal of the Permanent Council
(40 new members) and of the Executive Committee (5 new members). Several Scientific
Commissions were also established.

Finally, the Congress decided to hold its next world congress in Brazil, in 2011. It elected
Pe. Ignácio Shmitz as new President, Luiz Oosterbeek as Secretary General and Rossano
Lopes Bastos as Congress secretary.



Table of Contents................................................................................................................... ii
List of Figures....................................................................................................................... iv
List of Tables ....................................................................................................................... vii
Volume Editor’s Foreword ................................................................................................... ix

Early Deliberate Child Burials: Bioarchaeological insights from the Near Eastern
Mediterranean .................................................................................................................. 3
Anne-marie Tillier

The Gravettian Infant Burials from Krems-Wachtberg, Austria.......................................... 15

Thomas Einwögerer, Marc Händel, Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, Ulrich Simon,
and Maria Teschler-Nicola

Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age

Infant Burials in Pre-Pottery Neolithic Cyprus: Evidence from Khirokitia ......................... 23
Françoise Le Mort

Suffer the Children: ‘Visualising’ children in the archaeological record............................. 33

Malcolm Lillie

Çatalhöyük’s Foundation Burials: Ritual child sacrifice or convenient deaths?.................. 45

Sharon Moses

Des morts peu fiables: les sépultures néolithiques d’immatures en Grèce .......................... 53
Maia Pomadère

A Long Way to the West: Earliest jar burials in southeast Europe and the Near East......... 61
Krum Bacvarov

Infant Jar Burials – a ritual associated with early agriculture? ............................................ 71

Estelle Orrelle

The Jar Burials of the Chalcolithic “Necropolis” at Byblos ................................................ 79

Gassia Artin

Mobilier funéraire de nouveau-nés et d’enfants: cas d’étude de la Bulgarie ....................... 87

Yavor Boyadžiev and Maria Gurova

Late Neolithic Boys at the Gomolava Cemetery (Serbia).................................................... 95

Sofija Stefanović

Child Burials in Intramural and Extramural Contexts From the Neolithic
and Chalcolithic of Romania: The problem of “inside” and “outside” ........................ 101
Raluca Kogălniceanu

The Changing Relationship between the Living and the Dead: Child burial
at the site of Kenan Tepe, Turkey ................................................................................ 113
David Hopwood

Childhood in Late Neolithic Vietnam: Bio-mortuary insights

into an ambiguous life stage......................................................................................... 123
Marc Oxenham, Hirofumi Matsumura, Kate Domett, Nguyen Kim Thuy,
Nguyen Kim Dung, Nguyen Lan Cuong, Damien Huffer, and Sarah Muller

A Social Aspect of Intramural Infant Burials’ Analysis:

The case of EBA Tell Yunatsite, Bulgaria ................................................................... 137
Tatiana Mishina

Later Bronze Age and Iron Age

Pre-Adult and Adult Burials of East Manych Catacomb Culture:
Was infanticide really impossible? .............................................................................. 149
Marina Andreeva

Infant/Child Burials and Social Reproduction in the Bronze Age

and Early Iron Age (c. 2100-800 BC) of Central Italy................................................. 161
Erik van Rossenberg

A Biocultural Study of Children From Iron Age South Siberia......................................... 175

Eileen Murphy

Infant Burials in Iron Age Britain ...................................................................................... 189

Belinda Tibbetts

Later perspectives
Special Burials, Special Buildings? An Anglo-Saxon perspective on the
interpretation of infant burials in association with rural settlement structures............. 197
Sally Crawford

Enfants Huaca: Sépultures en Ollas des enfants nés dans des circonstances
spéciales selon les extirpateurs d’idolâtries andines du XVIIème siècle........................ 205
Mariel López


Fig. 1.1. Map of the Levant with sites documenting Middle Palaeolithic
human occupations........................................................................................................... 4
Fig. 1.2. The Skhul 1 child burial in upper view.................................................................... 6
Fig. 1.3. The primary deliberate burial of the Qafzeh 11 adolescent was uncovered
at the bottom of the Mousterian sequence in the site ....................................................... 6
Fig. 1.4. The double primary burial found at Qafzeh: Qafzeh 10, ca. 6 yrs old
at death child was lying at the feet of a late adolescent Qafzeh 9 .................................... 6
Fig. 1.5. Spatial distribution of the human remains in the Kebara Cave................................ 8
Fig. 1.6. 1 The Kebara ........................................................................................................... 9
Fig. 1.7. Dederiyeh .............................................................................................................. 11

Fig. 2.1. The city of Krems is situated north of the Danube, where the river exits the
narrow Wachau valley and flows into the alluvial plain northwest of Vienna............... 16
Fig. 2.2. The Wachtberg area between the Danube and the river Krems,
with the site of Krems-Hundssteig in the southern part
and Krems-Wachtberg about 100 m further northwest .................................................. 16
Fig. 2.3. Krems-Wachtberg (Austria): Burial 1 was recovered as a block and moved
to the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Department of Anthropology. .................... 18
Fig. 2.4. Krems-Wachtberg (Austria): Burial 2 was recovered as a block and moved
to the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Department of Anthropology ..................... 18

Fig. 3.1. Site location ........................................................................................................... 24

Fig. 3.2. Infant burial 624 (building 126, level B, east sector) lying on the back ................ 26
Fig. 3.3. Infant burial 563 (building 123, level A, east sector) resting on the face .............. 27
Fig. 3.4. Infant burial 830 (building 122, level C, east sector) including a stone
on the body (a) and after removal of the stone (b) ......................................................... 27
Fig. 3.5. Infant burial 538 (building 123, level A, east sector) ............................................ 27

Fig. 4.1. Location map for the cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region ............................ 34
Fig. 4.2. Mesolithic and Neolithic isotope ratios for the Dnieper Rapids cemeteries .......... 37
Fig. 4.3. Vasilyevka II isotopes ratios.................................................................................. 37
Fig. 4.4. The Nenasytets cemetery....................................................................................... 38
Fig. 4.5. Osipovka child burial (individual no. 28). This individual was buried
with c. 200 Cyprinidae (Carp) teeth in association ........................................................ 39

Fig. 5.1. A hurried wall burial of a two-year-old child at Neolithic Çatalhöyük,

possibly to add stability to the wall ................................................................................ 49

Fig. 6.1. Sites mentionés dans le texte ................................................................................. 54

Fig. 7.1. Map showing the location of the sites mentioned in the text................................. 62

Fig. 7.2. Map showing the jar burial distribution area in the later Neolithic
and Chalcolithic ............................................................................................................. 67
Fig. 7.3. Map showing the jar burial distribution area in the Early Bronze Age ................. 68

Fig. 9.1. Geo-spatial corpus: topographic distribution......................................................... 81

Fig. 9.2. Funerary contexts: jar burials ................................................................................ 81
Fig. 9.3. Human remains (burial No. 801) ........................................................................... 82
Fig. 9.4. Grave goods in a jar............................................................................................... 82
Fig. 9.5. Metal artefact (burial No. 1669) ............................................................................ 84
Fig. 9.6. Ornaments (burial No. 92)..................................................................................... 84

Fig. 10.1. Durankulak, sépultures de nouveau-nés avec du mobilier funéraire ................... 89

Fig. 10.2. Durankulak, sépultures de l’Infants II avec du mobilier funéraire ...................... 91

Fig. 11.1. Burials at the Gomolava cemetery....................................................................... 95

Fig. 11.2. Burial No. 8, 1 year old boy, buried with 4 ceramic vessels
and 7 copper beads......................................................................................................... 96
Fig. 11.3. Burial No. 9, 3 years old boy, buried without grave goods ................................. 97
Fig. 11.4. Burial No. 10, 7 years old boy, buried with 2 ceramic vessels
and 2 bone beads ............................................................................................................ 97

Fig. 12.1. Map of the archaeological sites mentioned in the text....................................... 102
Fig. 12.2. Cernica............................................................................................................... 104
Fig. 12.3. Vărăşti ............................................................................................................... 106
Fig. 12.4. Gârleşti-Gherceşti.............................................................................................. 106
Fig. 12.5. Ostrovul Corbului .............................................................................................. 106
Fig. 12.6. a) Percentages of child and adult burials at the sites mentioned in the text;
b) Comparison between child and adult burials’ percentage in the burial groups
and cemeteries (Neolithic and Chalcolithic) ................................................................ 108

Fig. 13.1. Location of Kenan Tepe in southeastern Turkey............................................... 114

Fig. 13.2. Topographic map of Kenan Tepe showing the location of areas
and trenches.................................................................................................................. 115
Fig. 13.3. Plaster-lined Ubaid infant burial and the shallow bowl that was used
to cover the child.......................................................................................................... 116
Fig. 13.4. Ubaid infant burial with associated grinding stone............................................ 116
Fig. 13.5. Mud-brick lined burial of the Late Chalcolithic infant ...................................... 117
Fig. 13.6. Flexed burial of G.7.25.5................................................................................... 118
Fig. 13.7. Burial goods associated with the G.7.25.5 burial .............................................. 119
Fig. 13.8. Bowl found against northern corner of the G.7.28.6 burial ............................... 119

Fig. 14.1. Age specific mortality at Man Bac (all excavation seasons, n=46) ................... 125
Fig. 14.2. Massive carious lesion to right dm1 and note also focal demineralisation
of left d12 (MB05 B18, 18 month old infant) ............................................................... 126
Fig. 14.3. Distribution of burials by age for the three excavation seasons
at Man Bac ................................................................................................................... 127
Fig. 14.4. Frequency of ceramics per grave by age class................................................... 128
Fig. 14.5. Six month old infant (MB05 B05) with two small pots..................................... 129
Fig. 14.6. Close up of the hands of an 8 to 9 year old child (MB05 B25)
grasping large bivalve shell.......................................................................................... 129

Fig. 15.1. Horizontally compressed scheme of the central cross-section........................... 138
Fig. 15.2. Distribution of infant burials by horizons.......................................................... 139
Fig. 15.3. Houses with/without infant burials by horizons ................................................ 139
Fig. 15.4. Location of burials in the houses ....................................................................... 140
Fig. 15.5. Houses with double burials................................................................................ 140
Fig. 15.6. Burial # 13, near the oven.................................................................................. 141
Fig. 15.7. Burial # 17, with surface marking ..................................................................... 141
Fig. 15.8. Burial # 25 ......................................................................................................... 141
Fig. 15.9. Burial # 41, slanting pit ..................................................................................... 142
Fig. 15.10. Burial # 45, slanting pit ................................................................................... 142
Fig. 15.11. Types of burial vessels .................................................................................... 143
Fig. 15.12. Typological distribution of burial vessels........................................................ 144
Fig. 15.13. Burial # 10, in a bowl with a lid ...................................................................... 145

Fig. 16.1. Individual burials............................................................................................... 150

Fig. 16.2. Double adult/infant burials (selection A)........................................................... 153
Fig. 16.3. Double adult/child burials (selection B) ............................................................ 154
Fig. 16.4. Double adult/adult burials (1-7, selection C) and adult/pre-adult burial
(selection D) ................................................................................................................. 155
Fig. 16.5. Double burials of pre-adults (1-5, selection D); collective burials of 3-4
individuals (6 and 8, selection A; 7, selection B)......................................................... 156

Fig. 18.1. Map showing the location of the cemetery of Aymyrlyg, Tuva,
south Siberia................................................................................................................. 176
Fig. 18.2. (a) Infant buried within a stone cist of unknown context from Aymyrlyg,
(b) Log House Tomb X ................................................................................................ 177
Fig. 18.3. (a) Cranium of a 4-5 year old child (VI. 6) that displayed a chekan injury
on his/her left parietal................................................................................................... 182
Fig. 18.4. (a) Young girls milking sheep at Bayan-Olgii Aimag, Mongolia,
(b) Girls taking turns to prepare Airag (fermented mare’s milk) to drink
at the Altai Tavanbogd National Park, Mongolia......................................................... 184
Fig. 18.5. Father and daughter on horseback at the Altai Tavanbogd National Park,
Mongolia ...................................................................................................................... 184
Fig. 18.6. Grandfather and grandson inside a yurt at Bayan-Olgii Aimag, Mongolia ....... 185

Fig. 19.1. Sites mentioned in text ...................................................................................... 189

Fig. 21.1. Quebrada de Humahuaca................................................................................... 206

Fig. 21.2. a) Charcas, Tucuman colonial et Omaguaca; b) Charcas,
Tucuman colonial et Omaguaca, détail........................................................................ 209
Fig. 21.3. Technologie céramique...................................................................................... 211


Tab. 3.1. Age distribution .................................................................................................... 25

Tab. 3.2. Burial position ...................................................................................................... 27
Tab. 3.3 Degree of body contraction ................................................................................... 27

Tab. 10.1. Tableau général des sépultures d’après l’âge et le mobilier en silex .................. 88
Tab. 10.2. Sépultures d’enfants (Infans II 7-14 ans)............................................................ 92
Tab. 10.3. Sépultures de nouveau-nés déterminées d’après le contexte funéraire ............... 92
Tab. 10.4. Sépultures d’enfants identifiées sans certitude ................................................... 93

Tab. 11.1. Gomolava cemetery: child burials ...................................................................... 95

Tab. 12.1. Cernica: sex and age groups distribution .......................................................... 105
Tab. 12.2. Radovanu: age groups distribution ................................................................... 105

Tab. 13.1. Infant and child burials excavated from Kenan Tepe ....................................... 113

Tab. 14.1. Demographic attributes of several Southeast Asian

skeletal assemblages..................................................................................................... 126
Tab. 14.2. Early childhood caries (≤3 years) experience in prehistoric
Southeast Asia.............................................................................................................. 126
Tab. 14.3. Frequency of cribra orbitalia in Man Bac children ≤ 10 years old
at death ......................................................................................................................... 127
Tab. 14.4. Distribution of Man Bac grave goods by age-at-death ..................................... 128

Tab. 16.1. Individual burials age selections....................................................................... 151

Tab. 16.2. Grave goods in individual burials ..................................................................... 152
Tab. 16.3. Collective burial age selections ........................................................................ 152
Tab. 16.4. Grave goods in collective burials...................................................................... 158
Tab. 16.5. Bioarchaeological determinations of age and sex (selections A and B) ........... 158
Tab. 16.6. Sex-and-age determinations made by archaeologists
and bioarchaeologists (selection C).............................................................................. 159

Tab. 17.1. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Early Bronze Age.......................... 162
Tab. 17.2. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Middle Bronze Age....................... 162
Tab. 17.3. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Late Bronze Age ........................... 163
Tab. 17.4. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Final Bronze Age .......................... 165
Tab. 17.5. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo: Early Iron Age and Late Iron Age ................. 167

Tab. 19.1. Incidence of burial type .................................................................................... 190

Tab. 19.2. Incidence of deposits in pit burials ................................................................... 190
Tab. 19.3. Incidence of deposits in ditch burials................................................................ 190

Tab. 19.4. Orientation of infant burials.............................................................................. 192
Tab. 19.5. Variable comparison across sites ...................................................................... 194

Tab. 20.1. Infant burials at Anglo-Saxon settlements ........................................................ 198


But who knows the fate of his bones, or how

often he is to be buried? Who hath the oracle
of his ashes, or whither they are to be
Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia (1658)

When I first decided to organize a session at the XVth Congress of the International Union
for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP / IUPPS) in Lisbon, I simply wanted to
put the results of my own research project in the perspective of more or less similar
phenomena, in a limited time and space framework. It is always stimulating just to see
where you are standing, this was my thinking, so I contacted a possible partner who was
then working on a similar project, and sketched a list of prospective participants. Then, as I
started to receive proposals for the talks, the session’s time and space framework quickly
expanded to include periods and places as remote from each other as the Gravettian in
Austria and Anglo-Saxon England or Neolithic Vietnam and seventeenth-century Andean
world. The session’s title – which for obvious reasons appears slightly changed as the title
of this volume – apparently did its job to focus the research interest in approaches varying
from purely archaeological and bioarchaeological analyses of burial contexts through
chronology observations to interpretations and reconstructions of ritual and symbolic

Burial practices for infants and children in the remote past have attracted archaeologists
long before the seminal book of Eleanor Scott, The Archaeology of Infancy and Infant
Death (B.A.R., 1999), but this kind of research has actually intensified in the last decade.
Now that the editing of the texts and illustrations of this volume is finally complete, and the
table of contents is ready, I see an outcome that could have perhaps been expected but was
definitely hoped for, one that gives insights into a whole new world of childhood in the

As is only appropriate in such cases, the volume is chronologically and territorially ordered,
and begins with Anne-Marie Tillier’s paper that looks for the origins of funerary practices
as applied to infants and non-adults in certain Mousterian assemblages in the Mediterranean
Levant. The Gravettian burials from Krems-Wachtberg in Lower Austria are considered by
a team from the Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the
Natural History Museum Vienna (Thomas Einwögerer, Marc Händel, Christine
Neugebauer-Maresch, Ulrich Simon, and Maria Teschler-Nicola), in the context of the
debate over rituals and social structure of hunter-gatherer communities. The bulk of papers,
however, are focused on the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age evidence; they
are based on material from southeast Europe, Anatolia, and the Levant, and consider burial
samples from sites or regions as Khirokitia in Cyprus (Françoise Le Mort), Çatalhöyük
(Sharon Moses), Kenan Tepe (David Hopwood), Byblos (Estelle Orrelle and Gassia Artin),
the Dnieper Rapids in Ukraine (Malcolm Lillie), Durankulak (Yavor Boyadžiev and Maria
Gurova), Yunatsite (Tatiana Mishina), and Gomolava (Sofija Stefanović), or look for
general trends as in Neolithic/Chalcolithic Greece or Romania (Maia Pomadère and Raluca
Kogălniceanu) or trace the appearance and development of early jar burial (Krum
Bacvarov). A team from the Australian National University and the Vietnamese Institute of

Archaeology (Marc Oxenham, Hirofumi Matsumura, Kate Domett, Nguyen Kim Thuy,
Nguyen Kim Dung, Nguyen Lan Cuong, Damien Huffer, and Sarah Muller) sheds light on
the role of children and adult attitudes towards children at the late Neolithic cemetery of
Man Bac in northern Vietnam. Another group of papers covers the later Bronze Age and
Iron Age, in southeast Europe and the North Caucasus (Marina Andreeva), south Siberia
(Eileen Murphy), Central Italy (Erik van Rossenberg), and Great Britain (Belinda Tibbetts).
Two more papers investigate the correlation between infant burial and built structures
within the context of Anglo-Saxon England (Sally Crawford) as well as the typical child
burials in jars in the Andean world (Mariel López).

I would not argue that this collection of papers gives a comprehensive picture of
infant/child burial in preliterate societies; there are admittedly huge gaps in our knowledge
of past burial practices as well as in this volume’s scope that could have perhaps been filled
in to some extent, but this was not what I was after. What we have instead is various
reference points in the analysis, interpretation, and reconstruction of infant/child burial
record, bits and pieces that contribute to the multifaceted aspects of this vast research area.
Moreover, many papers’ considerations include sites or phenomena, territories or periods
that overlap and complement one another, thus emphasizing parallels and interrelations and
allowing comparisons within or between larger networks, which will hopefully stimulate
new approaches and inferences in the future.

I would like to acknowledge the help of those who made possible the publication of this
volume. First and foremost, this is Professor Luiz Oosterbeek, the Secretary General of
UISPP, who took the burden to organize UISPP’s XVth Congress as well as to coordinate
the complicated process of editing all sessions’ proceedings as a series editor. Special
thanks are due to my partner in the WS26 Babies Reborn organization, Tatiana Mishina
who was always there for my boringly numerous questions and suggestions. Cláudia
Fidalgo from the UISPP Secretariat was vital to the session’s organization as well as to the
making of this volume. I owe to Sharon Moses the cover drawing that wonderfully
reconstructs a wall burial of a two-year-old child at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. My poor
proficiency in French was greatly helped by Maia Pomadère and Mario Ignatov who edited
the French texts and translated some of the French abstracts. Thank you also goes to all
authors who quickly responded to my – sometimes admittedly too fussy – editorial
requests. Last but not least I gratefully acknowledge the Alexander von Humboldt
Foundation; it was during my AvH research fellowship at the University of Saarland that
this volume has been edited.

Saarbrücken, May 2007


Anne-marie TILLIER
Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Populations du Passé UMR 5199, France

Abstract: The Near East provides an excellent opportunity to approach from published interpretations the origins of funerary
practises applied to infants and non-adults during the Middle Palaeolithic in Eurasia. These practises were shared by
morphologically different human groups that have alternated use of the Mediterranean Levant between 110 and 50 Kyrs BP and
were associated with distinct Mousterian assemblages.
Key-Words: Funerary practice, childhood, Mousterian, Mediterranean Levant

Résumé: Ce sont les documents issus du Proche-Orient qui permettent d’aborder la question de l’origine des gestes funéraires
concernant les enfants de moins d’un an et les sujets immatures au Paléolithique Moyen en Eurasie. Ces pratiques ont été le fait de
différents groupes humains identifiés successivement au Levant Méditerranéen entre 100.000 et 50.000 ans BP dans des niveaux
moustériens de facture distincte.
Mots clefs: Pratique funéraire, enfance, Moustérien, Levant Méditerranéen


The Near East has attracted the attention of the scientific
community since the first archaeological surveys The Skhul and Qafzeh sites are unique in south-western
conducted in the 1930s, by D.A. Garrod, D. Bate, T.D. Asia because of their unusual concentration of hominid
McCown and M. Stekelis on the western escarpment of remains and the accumulation of various data reflecting
the Mount Carmel (south of Haïfa), and by R. Neuville in bioarchaeological aspects of Middle Palaeolithic societies
Upper Galilee. These excavations have led to major from the southern Levant.
discoveries of human settlements associated to Middle
Palaeolithic (= Mousterian) industries. Skhul

In the last four decades, long-term projects were The Skhul site, located about 25 km south of Haifa (Fig.
conducted in several sites, Qafzeh, Amud and Kebara in 1.1), was excavated from 1931 to 1934 by D.A. Garrod,
Northern Israel, Dederiyeh in Northern Syria. Disco- D. Bate and T.D. McCown. During the field seasons, ten
veries have documented morphologically different individuals (3 children and 7 adults) were uncovered in
human groups associated with Mousterian assemblages front of the entrance of the cave from layer B that
that have alternated use of the Levant between 170 and contained a lithic assemblage described as “levalloiso-
50 Kyrs (McCown & Keith 1939; Suzuki & Takai 1970; mousterian” by Bate (in Garrod & Bate 1937). According
Vandermeersch 1981; Bar Yosef & Vandermeersch to the excavators, all the individuals have been buried and
1991; Rak et al. 1994; Tillier 1999; Akazawa & the Skhul site was considered as “one of the most
Muhesen 2002; Tillier et al. 2003). Some authors (e.g. remarkable of prehistoric sites by virtue of the cemetery it
Vandermeersch, Akazawa & Muhesen 2002; Trinkaus contained” (McCown in Garrod & Bate 1937, 106).
1983; Rak 1993; Rak et al. 1993; Stringer 1994) made a
more meaningful distinction within this hominid sample, In a preliminary report, T.D. McCown (1934) mentioned
considering that the fossils recovered from Kebara, the antiquity of the Skhul hominids, given their overall
Amud and Dederiyeh were the representatives of west morphology and the archaeological context. However a
Asian Neanderthals. reasonable chronological framework for a majority of
scholars was, till the early 1980s, to consider the Skhul
Besides its human diversity, these records from the Near deposits to be of late Mousterian age, around 40 kyrs BP
East brought the better evidence of intentional burials (e.g. Jelinek 1982; Trinkaus 1984). Application of
during the Middle Palaeolithic in the Old World and radiometric techniques (ThermoLuminescence, Electron
provided an excellent opportunity to approach from Spin Resonance) revealed the antiquity of the human
published interpretations the origins of funerary practises occupation: the TL results supported an early date of 119
applied to infants and non-adults (e.g. Tillier et al. 1988; ± 18 kyrs BP (Mercier et al. 1993), while the ESR/LU
Hovers et al. 1995; Tillier 1995). techniques gave a more recent date of 101 ± 13 kyrs


Fig. 1.1. Map of the Levant with sites documenting Middle Palaeolithic human occupations (revised after Bar Yosef
2000). Among sites with human remains (black star), only five (Skhul, Qafzeh, Kebara, Amud and Dederiyeh)
provide evidence of non-adult individuals deliberately buried

(Grun & Stringer 1991). Using the Tabun cave sequence industry, in which centripetal and/or bi-directional
(Mount Carmel) as a reference for a classification of the preparations prevailed and the typical products were side
Levantine lithic entities, the Mousterian assemblage at scrapers, large oval and quadrangular levallois flakes (e.g.
Skhul was qualified as “Tabun C-type” Mousterian Hovers 1997).



Qafzeh cave, located about 3 km east of Nazareth (Fig.
1.1) was first excavated by R. Neuville between 1933 and The important series of non-adult individuals found at
1935, and new field seasons were carried out under the these sites constitutes a unique sample of anatomically
direction of B. Vandermeersch from 1965 to 1979. modern non-adults so far discovered within a clearly
Numerous fossil hominids (including 9 non-adults and 6 Mousterian context. At Skhul, children represented 30%
adults) were found with a lithic assemblage similar to that of the total sample while non-adult individuals were more
of Skhul, i.e. a “Tabun C-type” Mousterian industry numerous at Qafzeh (almost 60%). The three children
(Boutié 1989; Hovers 1997). The spatial distribution of from Skhul belong to two age-classes, 1-4 yrs and 5-9 yrs,
the human remains was restricted to a few square meters while a wider age distribution at death, from birth to 15-
in front of the entrance to the cave, and the majority of 19 yrs of age, can be observed at Qafzeh. Within the
finds originated from layer XVII. overall sample, only two individuals under one year of
age were uncovered. However, it is evident that neonatal
The analysis of Qafzeh microfaunal assemblage (Tchernov and postneonatal (deaths between four weeks and the end
1995) supported an occupation during a warm phase of OIS of the first year) mortality rates were certainly higher
5. Radiometric techniques applied to the Mousterian among Middle Palaeolithic human communities than
sequence placed the deposits between 92 ± 5 kyrs BP (TL among later ones.
and non-invasive gamma spectrometry technique applied to
the adult Qafzeh 6; Valladas et al. 1988; Yokoyama et al. The data collected form Qafzeh and Skhul bring no
1997) and 115 ± 15 kyrs (ESR, Schwarcz et al. 1988,). evidence of selection in the deceased children relative to
Furthermore as illustrated by the TL results the Mousterian individual age at death. The most complete infant
occupation covers a short time span (Valladas et al. 1988). specimen unearthed at Qafzeh was a neonate (Qafzeh 13),
and the skeletal remains were found under a stone. They
were removed as a block with the sediments and no field
IDENTITY OF THE SKHUL AND QAFZEH observations (body position, preservation of anatomical
MOUSTERIAN INHABITANTS connections) were available that could be employed to
reconstruct elements in the sequence of human body
In the monograph devoted to the Mount Carmel hominids, deposit. Interestingly, cranial and infracranial bones
McCown and Keith (1939) have noted that “in no (including complete hand bones) and a few deciduous
essential point or complex of features can we exclude the tooth germs were preserved. Considering the preservation
Skhul people from a position among ancestors of modern state of the skeleton and the location of the deposit on the
races”. From detailed morphological analyses of both terrasse, it was suggested that the Qafzeh 13 deposit
Skhul and Qafzeh specimens (N=26), an evaluation of the might have been intentionally protected (Tillier 1995).
morphological pattern exhibited by the earliest modern
humans in the Near East can be obtained. True derived Belonging to the second age-class, the Skhul 1 child was
features link the Skhul-Qafzeh specimens with modern circa 3 yrs old at death. The child skeleton (Fig. 1.2) was
humans, besides some archaic retentions (McCown & found 1.75 m deep in front of the mouth of the cave.
Keith 1939; Howell 1958; Vandermeersch 1981; Mann According to McCown (1937, 48), “the skeleton which
1995; Tillier 1999). was embedded in hard limestone breccia, showed by the
position of its parts that the child had been buried in a
Both at Qafzeh and Skhul sites, most of the human squatting posture with body flexed forwards”.
remains were unearthed in a hard limestone breccia.
However, information deriving from the nature of Third evidence of primary burial was represented by the
deposits, position of skeletal remains (direct or indirect Qafzeh 15 child, circa 8 yrs at death (Tillier 1999). Only
evidence of pits and filling of the graves, preservation of the upper part of the skeleton was preserved in anatomical
anatomical connections) and, in few cases, evidence of position, indicating that the child had been laid on the
grave goods, strongly supports the notion of protected back, the face being turned to north-west. The sediments
burials (Garrod & Bate 1937; Vandermeersch 1969 & were strongly brecciated and postdepositional diagenetic
1970: Tillier et al. 1988; Tillier 1995). processes have altered the lower part of the skeleton.

Indications of other symbolic activities (Vandermeersch Qafzeh 11 is a partial skeleton of a young adolescent (ca. 13
1966; Hovers et al. 1997; Bar Yosef Mayer 2005; Taborin years old at death, Tillier 1999). The individual lied north-
2003; Vanhaeren et al. 2006) near the burial areas are south down on the bedrock, facing west. The upper limbs
known from the two sites: presence of shell beads at were tightly flexed, with hands positioned near the face.
Skhul, red ochre, coloured flints, Glycymeris valves (with The lower part of the skeleton was poorly preserved. Parts
one of them documenting colorant use) and an engraved of fallow deer antlers were placed directly in contact with
artefact at Qafzeh. However, no direct association bet- the hands of the adolescent (Fig. 1.3). This burial represents
ween these objects, the dead bodies and funerary practises a unique deposit uncovered from the site that was associated
can be accurately demonstrated. with an offering (Vandermeersch 1970; Tillier 1995).


(Vandermeersch 1969; Tillier 1995)1. Both individuals

were buried in a narrow pit circa 50 cm wide and 1.50 m
long (Fig. 1.4). Qafzeh 9 lied on the left side, the right
hand on the left forearm, and lower limbs flexed. A few
centimetres separated the left toes of Qafzeh 9 from the
child’s right upper limb. Qafzeh 10 was also lying on the
left side with the left upper limb tightly flexed under the
head. The right upper limb was extended while the lower
limbs were also flexed, the right knee joint being at the
level of the pelvis. The associated Qafzeh 9/10 deposit
represents the first double burial known in the
Mediterranean Levant and a unique case reported from
the Middle Palaeolithic in Eurasia.

Fig. 1.2. The Skhul 1 child burial in upper view

(after McCown & Keith 1939)

Fig. 1.3. The primary deliberate burial of the Qafzeh 11

adolescent was uncovered at the bottom of the Mousterian
sequence in the site. Parts of fallow deer antlers were
placed nearby the adolescent face, in contact with the
hands (after Vandermeersch 1970, photograph B.
Fig. 1.4. The double primary burial found at Qafzeh:
Qafzeh 10, ca. 6 yrs old at death child was lying
Besides single burials, Qafzeh provided the first evidence at the feet of a late adolescent Qafzeh 9.
of an unequivocal primary double burial. The deposit (drawing D. Visset, in Tillier 1995)
consist of a late-adolescent individual, Qafzeh 9 (age
class 15-19 years) oriented north-south, and a child, 1
Contrary to the assertion made by Cohen (2003, 29), the burial does
Qafzeh 10, ca. 6 years old at death, oriented west-east not consist of a young mother and her newborn.


Skhul and Qafzeh sites provide the highest number of The Kebara 1 infant skeleton was uncovered during the
non-adults intentionally buried (50% of the overall last year of Stekelis excavations in 1965 in the northern
immature sample), besides few adult burials (at least 5, sector of the cave, close to the northern wall, in an area
Tillier et al. 1988), suggesting some repetitive tradition that was used as a dumping zone. Schick and Stekelis
(Tillier 1995; Hovers et al. 1995). Concerning the (1977, 103) mentioned “... at a depth of 6.83-6.90 m the
remaining non-adult sample (two children at Skhul, at skeleton of a seven-month-old child was discovered...
least 4 at Qafzeh), there are no arguments (such as traces Nearby were three stones and the tooth of a rhinoceros.
of cutmarks on the isolated cranial and post-cranial bones) The skeleton was removed intact within a mass of earth”.
to support the occurrence of secondary mortuary practices The skeletal remains removed as a block with the
at both sites. The presence of human action that would sediments were sent for study to the Witwatersrand
explain the disturbance of primary internments, as University, South Africa. No additional details concerning
suggested by McCown (in Garrod & Bate 1937, 92-107) the deposition of the body, or the needed evidence for its
for Skhul 8 and 10 children, should remain a working original anatomical articulation were available when the
hypothesis. However, it should be mentioned that no unexcavated remains were later returned to Israel.
traces of animal gnawing (carnivores or other animals) However, considering the Kebara 1 location within the
can be detected on the skeletal remains. cave, the state of preservation of the skeleton (Fig. 1.6)
and the presence of three large stones alongside the
skeletal remains, Smith and Arensburg (1977, 164)
LEVANTINE FUNERARY PRACTISES DATED TO suggested that the infant was probably intentionally
“LATE MOUSTERIAN” buried and the burial secondarily disturbed.

Most anthropologists accept the view that various human The infant skeleton originated from Unit X, which was
groups were the bearers of distinct Mousterian lithic dated by two radiometric techniques, between 61.6 ± 3.6
industries in the Mediterranean Levant, although there is kyrs (TL, Valladas et al. 1987) and 64 ± 6 kyrs (ESR,
no general consensus at the present time on the Schwarcz et al. 1989). This infant burial was one of the
classification of these groups. A chronological gap of two primary burials found at the Kebara cave, the second
more than 30.000 years separated the Skhul-Qafzeh being that of an adult uncovered from a more recent layer,
hominids from latecomers defined at Amud and Kebara as Unit XII (Kebara 2, Bar Yosef et al. 1992).
either archaic Homo sapiens (e.g. Arensburg 1991; Mann
1995; Tillier et al. 2003) or west Asian Neanderthals (cf. Amud Cave
The Amud cave is located in the Wadi Amud, on the
Kebara cave western bank of the Jordan valley. This site was first
excavated from 1961 to 1964 by H. Suzuki and F. Takai,
The cave of Kebara, located at about 60/65 m above sea and between 1991 and 1994 by Y. Rak and colleagues
level in the Carmel Mountains, some 15 kilometres south (Suzuki & Takai 1970; Rak et al. 1994). Unlike the
of the Skhul cave, was first surveyed between 1951 and Kebara cave, the Mousterian sequence from Amud has
1965 by M. Stekelis, later by a current multidisciplinary yielded two individuals who were buried, one adult
Israeli-French project that lasted from 1982 to 1990. The (Amud 1) and a very young child (Amud 7).
dates for Kebara Mousterian sequence demonstrate a long
period of human occupations from unit VI to XII (ca. The Amud 7 infant burial was found in 1992 and its
64.000 to 48.000 years B.P., Bar-Yosef et al. 1992). But position in the stratigraphical sequence suggested an older
most of the human remains were found between ca. 6.2 age than that of Amud 1. Contrary to Ohnuma and
and 8.0 meters below datum (Units IX, X, XI, XII) and Akazawa (1988) who related the industries of Amud to
derived from the oldest Mousterian human occupation that of Tabun D, Meignen and Bar-Yosef (1991) and
(Schick & Stekelis 1970; Bar-Yosef & Vandermeersch Hovers et al. (1995), considered the lithic assemblage as
1991; Bar-Yosef et al. 1992; Tillier et al. 2003). late Mousterian of Tabun B-type. This was confirmed by
radiometric dates that gave an average of 60 kyrs BP
The Kebara hominid sample includes a large amount of (Valladas et al. 1999; Rink et al. 2001).
fragmentary isolated bone or tooth remains (N = 21),
besides two individuals better preserved, Kebara 1 and 2 According to the original description published by the
(Fig. 1.5). The mosaic of features (archaic retentions, excavators (Rak et al. 1994), Amud 7 is an articulated
“regional” and modern traits) exhibited by the most skeleton of a 10 month old infant lying on its right side in
complete specimens and the lack of diagnostic elements a small niche and the skull has collapsed. Hovers et al.
(such as the cranium) might explain the controversial noticed (1995, 52), “A natural niche in the rock face of
phylogenetic position of the fossils, either seen as West the cave wall served as burial structure, the body laid
Asian Neanderthals (Tillier et al. 1988; Vandermeersch down directly on the bedrock…” Lying on the infant
1991; Rak 1993) or kept within the Homo sapiens range pelvis was part of a cervid maxilla and its presence within
of variation (Arensburg 1991; Mann 1995; Arensburg & the space occupied by the body, in contact with the bones,
Cohen 1998; Tillier et al. 2003). supported the recognition of an offering. Rak et al. (2001,


Fig. 1.5. Spatial distribution of the human remains in the Kebara Cave (after Tillier et al. 2003)
and location of the Kebara 1 infant deposit

versus Arensburg & Cohen 1998; Tillier 1998) concluded in sub-adult mortality through time or changes in beha-
that the morphology of the Amud 7 skeleton presented vioural patterns (differences in lifeways, special patterns
numerous similarities with European Neanderthals. of death treatment)?

The amount of individuals represented by the human As it was already mentioned, a large chronological gap
skeletal and dental sample from Kebara and Amud is separated the early anatomically modern humans (Skhul
quite important, but includes mainly isolated bones and and Qafzeh) from other Levantine hominids. A real
teeth. While the occurrence of deliberate burials at both difference between the two groups lies in child/adult ratio
sites is quite low, it should be emphasized that the number of buried individuals and the fact that sub-adult indivi-
of children buried equals that of adults and that the two duals surviving to early childhood are only present among
infants buried documented postneonatal mortality. the deceased juveniles within the Skhul-Qafzeh sample.

Relevant to these observations, are the following questi-

DIACHRONIC CHANGES, DIFFERENCES IN SUB- ons: can such data be interpreted in terms of substantial
ADULT MORTALITY, OR DIFFERENCES IN care to unhealthy sub-adults among early Levantine
LIFEWAYS? modern humans? Is there a biological explanation for the
high frequency of buried individuals at both Qafzeh and
Can we consider that the data collected from the four sites Skhul? An increase in the duration of childhood depen-
in the Near Eastern Mediterranean document differences dency associated with the emergence of modern humans


Fig. 1.6. 1 The Kebara 1 child fragmentary skeleton; 2 Isolated petrous bone; 3 deciduous dentition (upper and lower
teeth); 4, 5 and 6 Upper and lower permanent tooth germs; 7 Condylar process of the left mandibular ramus; 8 Thoracic
vertebral bodies and fragments of neural arches; 9 First sternebre; 10 A right talus

was, for instance, postulated by few scholars (e.g. Stringer about pathological conditions and cause of death of the
et al. 1990; Trinkaus & Tompkins 1990), but the skeletal two infants. By contrast to the Qafzeh 13 neonate
studies can hardly prove such an assumption. skeleton, incidence of periosteal reactive bone (porotic
hyperostosis) can be identified, involving the outer table
The published descriptions of Kebara 1 and Amud 7 (Rak of cranial bones (e.g., parietal and sphenoid regions) as
et al. 1994; Tillier et al. 2003) provide no information well as fragments of the ulna, ilium, and vertebrae (Tillier


et al. 2003). The Qafzeh 10 child skeleton (from the TL, ESR and U series results that were obtained from the
double burial) exhibits pathological lesions that indicate four sites, it is clear that at Kebara and Amud, the infant
two episodes of trauma during childhood; they include an and adults burials were not contemporaneous. By
early closure of the coronal suture on the right side contrast, given the available dates of Qafzeh, the site
(craniostenosis affecting the skull development) and, on sequence might reflect a relatively short and continuous
the lower limb bones, a benign skeletal tumor in the distal occupation by a single biological and social group.
part of the right femoral diaphysis (Tillier 1999; Tillier et
al. 2003). However, the older individual from the same We have pointed out that at Kebara, Amud, Skhul, and
burial, Qafzeh 9, exhibits no skeletal evidence of patho- Qafzeh, the non-adult burials were not single discoveries.
logy or traumatic condition. Only minor lesions were Such a situation differs from that found in the Dederiyeh
visible on the skull (e.g. aseptic osteonecrosis on the right cave located in the Afrin basin in north-western Syria,
condylar process) and the right foot bones (Arensburg et where only children were unearthed. At this site, T. Aka-
al. 2006). zawa and S. Muhesen have described (Akazawa et al.
1993, 2002) two child burials (uncovered in 1990 and
Finally, the Qafzeh 11 adolescent who had suffered of an 1993 respectively) from the Mousterian layers attributed
otitis media during his life (Arensburg & Nathan 1972; to Tabun B-type. The Mousterian deposits are dated by
Tillier 1999) represented a unique case of ante mortem the excavators around 60 kyrs, by comparison with Keba-
injury on the skull (affecting the right side of the fore- ra and Amud archaeological sequence, but radiometric
head) that was caused soon before death (Tillier et al. dates are needed, as there are various identified layers.
2003). Interestingly, this adolescent is the only individual
buried in the site associated with grave goods suggesting According to Akazawa et al. (2002), the Dederiyeh 1
special treatment of the deceased person. skeleton (a child ca. 2 yrs old at death) was found 1.5 m
below the surface in layer 11, directly beneath the flat
bottom of the pit. The child (Fig. 1.7) was oriented north-
CONCLUDING REMARKS south and lied on the back, upper limbs extended along
the body and lower limbs partly flexed. The presence of a
A critical analysis of the available data permits to assume plaque behind the head was interpreted as a possible
that 50% of the non-adult individuals were intentionally pillow; the head was probably in a higher position than
buried in Skhul and Qafzeh. Later evidence of funerary the body and the skull has collapsed after the soft tissue
practices applied to non-adults came from Kebara and decomposition. Akazawa et al. (2002, 75) noticed that
Amud caves in which two single infant burials were “the pillow-like boulder and the small stone tool found
found in a distinct Mousterian archaeological context. near the child’s heart are suggestive of grave goods, but
we cannot be sure that they really are”.
In all cases, archaeological indication for the body
location deposit is lacking. Furthermore, variation in In addition to the Dederiyeh 1 primary burial, Akazawa et
spatial distribution of these deposits (inside the caves at al. (2002) identified a second pit 25 cm deep in layer 3,
Kebara and Amud, outside at Skhul and Qafzeh) cannot about 50 cm below the surface of the deposits inside the
be interpreted as a reflection of selective areas in death cave. The pit contained unarticulated bones belonging to a
treatment as, for instance, no bones were recovered inside ca. 2 yrs old child skeleton (Dederiyeh 2), and the authors
the Qafzeh cave where only lithic artefacts were suggested (2002, 76) that it “… might be the remains of
preserved. an intentional burial that has been disturbed”. Belonging
to the same age-class, Dederiyeh 1 and 2, however, “lived
Different age-classes are represented among the buried in different environmental conditions at different times”
individuals: infants (2 + 1 at Qafzeh?), early childhood (Akazawa et al. 2002, 391).
(1), late childhood (2), adolescence (2), but there are no
standards in terms of body position. All the burials are In conclusion, the documentation collected from south-
primary deposits and contain one individual; there is a western Asian sites provided evidence of funerary
unique case of primary double burial at Qafzeh, but the practises for the non-adult series of Mousterian
interpretation of the relationship between the two toolmakers in the Old World. The child/adult ratio of
individuals (using non-metric traits, Tillier 1999) can only buried individuals differs from one site to the other. There
be speculated. is no doubt that the first children intentionally buried in
the Levant were interred by early modern humans, at
No significant differences in burial customs were Skhul and Qafzeh. These deliberate child burials, as well
observed at the four sites from south-west Asia. At all as those associated with “Levantine Late Mousterian”
sites, adult and non-adult burials were present, although (Kebara, Amud, and Dederiyeh) largely predated those
the child/adult ratio of buried individuals differs between found later in Europe and associated to Neanderthals (e.g.
Skhul-Qafzeh and Kebara-Amud2. Furthermore, from the at La Ferrassie in France, Heim 1982).

2 Shanidar Mousterian sequence is difficult to assess and this explains

A similar situation is known from the Shanidar Cave in Iraq (Trinkaus
1983). However, the absolute chronology of the deposits within the why this paper focussed on Near Eastern Mediterranean sites.


Fig. 1.7. Dederiyeh 1 child burial, ca. 2 yrs old at death; 1 plaque; 2 flint
(after T. Akazawa & S. Muhesen 2002, Fig. IV/2. Reproduced by courtesy of the authors)

Acknowledgments Lisbon. The study of the original fossils was made

possible through the courtesy of the Department of
The author is grateful to Krum Bacvarov and Tatiana Antiquities in Jerusalem and the Department of Anatomy
Mishina for their invitation to participate in Workshop 26 and Anthropology of the Tel Aviv University. The Irene
Babies reborn: infant/children burials in prehistory, in Sala Care Archaeological Foundation, the OMLL-ESF


program directed by F. D’Errico (UMR 5199/IPGQ, GARROD, D.A.E. & D. BATE 1937. The Stone Age of
Bordeaux 1 University), and the UMR 5199/ LAPP Mount Carmel. vol. I. Oxford: Clarendon University
supported this research. Thanks are due to M. Seurin Press.
(UMR 5199-LAPP), for the technical assistance with the GRÜN, R. & C.B. STRINGER 1991. Electron spin
illustration, and to T. Akazawa and S. Muhesen, for their resonance dating and the evolution of modern humans.
permission to reproduce the drawing of Dederiyeh 1 Archaeometry 33: 153-199.
HEIM, J.-L. 1982. Les enfants néandertaliens de La
Ferrassie. Paris: Masson.
References HOVERS, E. 1997. Variability of Levantine Mousterian
Assemblages and Settlement patterns. Implications for
AKAZAWA, T., U. DODO, S. MUHESEN, A. ABDUL- the Development of Human Behavior. PhD. Disserta-
SALAM, Y. ABE, O. KONDO & Y. MIZOGUCHI tion. Jerusalem: Hebrew University.
1993. The Neanderthal remains from Dederiyeh Cave, HOVERS, E., B. VANDERMEERSCH & O. BAR
Syria: Interim report. Anthropological Science 101/4: YOSEF 1997. A Middle Palaeolithic Engraved
361-387. Artefact from Qafzeh Cave, Israel. Rock Art Research
AKAZAWA, T. & S. MUHESEN (eds.) 2002. Neander- 14/2: 79-87.
thal Burials. Excavations of the Dederiyeh Cave, HOVERS, E., Y. RAK, R. LAVI & W.H. KIMBEL 1995.
Afrin, Syria. Kyoto: International Research Center for Hominid remains from Amud Cave in the context of
Japanese Studies. the Levantine Middle Palaeolithic. Paléorient 21/2:
ARENSBURG, B. 1991. The Vertebral Column, thoracic 47-62.
cage and hyoid bone, in O. Bar-Yosef & B. HOWELL, F.C. 1958. Upper Plesitocene Men of South-
Vandermeersch (eds.) Le squelette moustérien de western Asian Mousterian, in Hundert Jahre Neander-
Kébara 2: 113-146. Paris: Editions du CNRS. thaler: 185-198. Utrecht: Kemink En Zoon.
ARENSBURG, B., & A. BELFER-COHEN 1998. JELINEK, A. 1982. The Middle Paleolithic in the
Sapiens and Neandertals: Rethinking the Levantine southern Levant, with comments on the appearance of
Middle Palaeolithic Hominids, in: T. Akazawa, K. modern Homo sapiens, in A. Ronen (ed.) The
Aoki & O. Bar Yosef (eds.) Neandertals and Modern Transition from Lower to Middle Palaeolithic and the
Humans in Western Asia: 311-322. New York & Origin of Modern Man: 57-101. Oxford: B.A.R.
London: Plenum Press. International Series 151.
ARENSBURG, B., H. DUDAY & A.-M. TILLIER 2006. McCOWN, T.D. 1934. The oldest complete skeletons of
Approche paléopathologique de la sépulture double de man. Bulletin of the American School of Prehistoric
Qafzeh datée de ca. 92.000 ans BP. Communication at Research 10: 12-19.
the Colloque du Groupement des Paléopathologistes
de Langue Française, 24-25 mars 2006, Lille. McCOWN, T.D. & A. KEITH 1939. The Stone Age of
Mount Carmel II: The fossil human remains from the
ARENSBURG, B. & H. NATHAN 1972. A propos de
Levalloiso-Mousterian. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
deux osselets de l’oreille moyenne d’un Néandertalo-
ïde trouvés à Qafzeh (Israël). L’Anthropologie 76: MANN, A.E. 1995. Modern Human Origins: Evidence
301-307. from the Near East. Paléorient 21/2: 35-46.
BAR-YOSEF MAYER, D.E. 2005. The Exploitation of MEIGNEN, L. & O. BAR YOSEF 1991. Les outillages
Shells as Beads in the Paleolithic and Neolithic of the lithiques Moustériens de Kebara (Fouilles 1982 -
Levant. Paléorient 31/1: 176-185. 1985), in O. Bar Yosef & B. Vandermeersch (eds.) Le
Squelette Moustérien de Kebara 2, Cahiers de
Paléoanthropologie: 49-76. Paris: CNRS.
Le Squelette Moustérien de Kebara 2. Cahiers de
Paléoanthropologie. Paris: CNRS. OHNUMA, K. & T. AKAZAWA 1988. Re-exami-
BAR-YOSEF, O., B. VANDERMEERSCH, B. ARENS- nation of the lithic artifacts from layer B (square 8-
BURG, A. BELFER-COHEN, P. GOLDBERG, H. 19) of the Amud Cave, Israel. Paleorient 14/2: 137-
TCHERNOV, A.-M. TILLIER & S. WEINER 1992. RAK, Y. 1991. The Kebara pelvis, in O. Bar-Yosef & B.
The excavations in Kebara Cave, Mount Carmel. Vandermeersch (eds.) Le Squelette Mousterien de
Current Anthropology 33/5: 497-550. Kebara 2, Cahiers de Paléoanthropologie: 147-156.
BOUTIE, P. 1989. Etude technologique de l’industrie Paris: CNRS.
moustérienne de la grotte de Qafzeh (près de RAK, Y. 1993. Morphological variation in Homo
Nazareth, Israël), in O. Bar Yosef & B. Vander- neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens In the Levant, in
meersch (eds.) Investigations in South Levantine W.H. Kimbel & L.B. Martin (eds.) A biogeographical
Prehistory: 213-229. Oxford: B.A.R. International model. Species, Species Concept and Primate
Series 497. Evolution: 523-536. New York: Plenum Press.


RAK, Y., W.H. KIMBEL & E. HOVERS 1994. A Bar Yosef (eds.) Neandertals and Modern Humans in
Neandertal infant from Amud Cave, Israel. Journal of Western Asia: 381-390. New York: Plenum Press.
Human Evolution 26: 313-324. TILLIER, A.-M. 1999. Les enfants moustériens de
RINK, W.J., H. SCHWARCZ, H.K. LEE, J. REES- Qafzeh. Interprétations phylogénétique et paléoauxo-
JONES, R. RABINOVITCH & E. HOVERS 2001. logique. Paris: CNRS.
Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) and Thermal TILLIER, A.-M., B. ARENSBURG, Y. RAK & B.
Ionization Mass Spectrometric (TIMS) 230Th/234U VANDERMEERSCH 1988. Les sépultures néander-
Dating of Teeth in Middle Paleolithic Layers at Amud thaliennes du Proche-Orient. Etat de la question.
Cave, Israel. Geoarchaeology 16: 701-717. Paléorient 14/2: 130-136.
Assemblages in Kebara Cave, Mount Carmel, in B. VANDERMEERSCH 2003. Dental pathology,
Arensburg & O. Bar Yosef (eds.) Moshe Stekelis Stressful Events and Disease in Levantine Early
Memorial Volume: 97-149. Jerusalem: The Israel Anatomically Modern Humans: Evidence from
Exploration Society. Qafzeh, in N. Goren-Inbar & J.D. Speth (eds.) Human
SCHWARCZ, H., R. GRÜN, B. VANDERMEERSCH, Paleoecology in the Levantine Corridor: 135-148.
1988. ESR dates for the Hominid Burial site of Qafzeh TRINKAUS, E. 1983. The Shanidar Neanderthals. New
in Israel. Journal of Human Evolution 17: 733-737. York: Academic Press.
SCHWARCZ, H.P., W.M. BUHAY, R. GRUN, H. TRINKAUS, E. 1984. Western Asia, in F.H. Smith & F.
VALLADAS, E. TCHERNOV, O. BAR YOSEF B. & Spencer (eds.) The Origins of Modern Humans: 251-
VANDERMEERSCH 1989. ESR dating of the 326. New York: A. R. Liss.
Neanderthal site, Kebara Cave, Israel. Journal of
Archaeological Science 16: 653-661. TRINKAUS, E., & R.L. TOMPKINS 1990. The
Neanderthal life cycle: the possibility, probability and
SMITH, P., & B. ARENSBURG 1977. A Mousterian perceptibility of contrast with recent humans, in C.E.J.
Skeleton from Kebara Cave, in B. Arensburg & O. Rousseau (ed.) Primate life history and evolution:
Bar Yosef (eds.) M. Stekelis Memorial Volume (Eretz 153-180. New York: Wiley Liss.
Israel 13): 164-176.
STRINGER, C.B. 1994. Out of Africa - A personal ARENSBURG, O. BAR YOSEF, A. BELFER-
History, in M.H. Nitecki & D.V. Nitecki (eds.) COHEN, P. GOLDBERG, H. LAVILLE, L. MEIG-
Origins of Anatomically Modern Humans, Interdisci- NEN, Y. RAK, E. TCHERNOV, A.-M. TILLIER &
plinary Conrtibutions to Archeology: 150-170. New B. VANDERMEERSCH 1987. Thermoluminescence
York: Plenum Press. dates for the Neanderthal burial site at Kebara, Israel.
STRINGER, C.B., M.C. DEAN & R.D. MARTIN 1990. Nature 330: 159-160.
A comparative study of cranial and dental develop- VALLADAS, H., J.L. REYSS, J.L. JORON, G.
ment within recent British sample and among VALLADAS, O. BAR YOSEF & B. VAN-
Neandertals, in C.E.J. Rousseau (ed.) Primate life DERMEERSCH 1988. Thermoluminescence dating
History and Evolution: 115-152. London: Wiley Liss. of Mousterian “Proto-Cro-Magnon” remains from
SUZUKI, H. & F. TAKAI (eds.) 1970. The Amud Man Israel and the origin of modern man. Nature 331: 614-
and His Cave Site. Tokyo: Academic Press of Japan. 616.
TABORIN, Y. 2003. La mer et les premiers hommes VALLADAS, H., N. MERCIER, E. HOVERS, L.
modernes, in B. Vandermeersch (dir.) Echanges et FROJET, J.L. JORON, W. KIMBEL & Y. RAK 1999.
diffusion dans la Préhistoire méditerranéenne: 113- TL dates for the Neanderthal site of Amud Cave,
122. Paris: CTHS. Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science, 26: 182-
TCHERNOV, E. 1995. Biochronology, Paleoecology, 193.
and dispersal Events of Hominids in the Southern VANDERMEERSCH, B. 1966. Découverte d’un objet en
Levant, in T. Akazawa, K. Aoki & T. Kimura (eds.) ocre avec traces d’utilisation dans le Moustérien de
The Evolution and Dispersal of Modern Humans in Qafzeh (Israël). Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique
Asia: 149-188. Tokyo: Hokusen-Sha. Française 66: 157-158.
TILLIER, A.-M. 1995. Paléoanthropologie et pratiques VANDERMEERSCH, B. 1969. Les nouveaux squelettes
funéraires au Levant méditerranéen durant le moustériens découverts à Qafzeh (Israël) et leur
Paléolithique moyen : le cas des sujets non adultes. signification. C. R. Acad. Sc. Paris, 268, D: 2562-
Paléorient 21/2: 63 - 76. 2565.
TILLIER, A.-M. 1998. Ontogenetic variation in Late VANDERMEERSCH, B. 1970. Une sépulture
Pleistocene Homo sapiens from the Near East. moustérienne avec offrandes découverte dans la grotte
Implication for Methodological Bias in reconstructing de Qafzeh. C. R. Acad. Sc. Paris, 270, D: 298-
Evolutionary Biology, in T. Akazawa, K. Aoki & O. 301.


VANDERMEERSCH, B. 1981. Les Hommes Fossiles de YOKOHAMA, Y., C. FALGUIÈRES & M.A. de
Qafzeh (Israël). Cahiers de Paléoanthropologie. LUMLEY 1997. Datation Directe d'un crâne Proto-
Paris: CNRS. Cro-Magnon de Qafzeh par la spectrométrie gamma
non destructive. C. R. Acad. Sc. Paris, 324, série IIa:

Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna,

Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna,

Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna,

Ulrich SIMON
Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna,

Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria,

Abstract: For several years the Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences has been carrying out field research in
the area of Krems in Lower Austria. In 2005 and 2006, two burials of infants, dated to 27.000 years BP, were discovered at the
Gravettian open air site of Krems-Wachtberg. Nowhere have burials of such extremely young Upper Palaeolithic individuals ever
been found. They substantially enrich the debate about rituals and document that infants were considered full members of hunter-
gatherer communities. Furthermore, they enlarge our sample size of human fossil remains and help resolve issues of ontogeny of
Early Modern Humans.
Keywords: Gravettian, infant burials, open air site, Austria, Krems-Wachtberg

Résumé: La Commission Préhistorique de l’Académie autrichienne des sciences entrepris depuis quelques années une série
d’explorations dans la région de Krems (Basse-Autriche). Les fouilles archéologiques sur le site gravettien de Krems-Wachtberg
ont livré en 2005 et en 2006 deux sépultures de nourrissons, datées de 27.000 ans BP. Jusqu’à présent il s’agit de la première
découverte d’individus de cet âge du paléolithique supérieur. Elle relance le débat au sujet des rituels funéraires et fournit la
preuve que les enfants étaient considérés comme membres de plein droit dans les communautés de chasseurs-cueilleurs. Ces
restes humains viennent enrichir le nombre des fossiles humains connus et fournissent une contribution à l’étude de l’ontogénèse
des néanthropiens.
Mots Clefs: Gravettien, sépultures d'enfants, site en plein air, Autriche, Krems-Wachtberg


Palaeolithic loess sites in Lower Austria have been well The southern slope of a promontory, where the river of
known since the end of the 19th century (Neugebauer- Krems flows into the Danube, is called Wachtberg and is
Maresch 1999). Within the last decade the Prehistoric today largely covered by a residential area belonging to
Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences the city of Krems. The site of Krems-Hundssteig is
focused on the reinvestigation of Palaeolithic sites in situated in its southernmost part; the Krems-Wachtberg
Eastern Austria. Among these, the find-spots within the site lies about 100 m to the northwest. The research at
loess sequences of Krems became of particular interest first had a more general character. We aimed to re-
(Neugebauer-Maresch 2000). Surveys, test trenches and investigate open air sites in the centre of Lower Austria
drilling-core analysis gave a picture of Gravettian settle- and focused on an extensive excavation of the well known
ment patterns in this topographic area between the site of Krems-Hundssteig (2000-2002). The following
Danube and the river Krems. The excavations at Krems- project included the investigation of Krems-Wachtberg
Hundssteig (Neuge-bauer-Maresch 2003, 2008; Fladerer (since 2005) exclusively.
& Salcher 2004) and Krems-Wachtberg (Einwögerer
2005 a & b; Einwögerer et al. 2006) support this evidence During the excavations at Krems-Hundssteig, several test
and provide detailed information about spatial organiza- drillings were made on the last vacant plots in the
tion of these camp sites and multiple presence of modern Wachtberg area, and a clearly definable cultural layer
man in the Middle Upper Palaeolithic (Figs. 2.1 and 2.2). with a high density of finds and extremely well preserved


Fig. 2.1. The city of Krems is situated north of the Danube, where the river exits the narrow Wachau valley
and flows into the alluvial plain northwest of Vienna (modified Austrian Map 2.0, BEV Vienna 2001)

Fig. 2.2. The Wachtberg area between the Danube and the river Krems, with the site
of Krems-Hundssteig in the southern part and Krems-Wachtberg about 100 m further northwest
(Photo: Austrian Academy of Sciences, Prehistoric Commission)


faunal remains like bone and mammoth ivory was vertically from the living floor for approximately 30 cm
recorded in a depth of approximately 5 m and in an area and has a flat base. The pit with yet unclear function is
of about 250 m2 – not far from the place where Josef compactly filled with mainly charcoal and burned animal
Bayer had already excavated in 1930 (Einwögerer 2000; bones, and is covered by several debris layers.
Fladerer 2001, 2003).

In September 2005 and in July 2006 two infant burials,
Already during the first excavation campaign at Krems- (Double-) Burial 1 and Burial 2, were discovered in a
Wachtberg in 2005, an extraordinarily well developed peripheral position south of the area with the highest
Gravettian cultural layer (archaeological horizon AH 4, concentration of finds. The grave pits also descend
Poz-1290: 26.580 ± 160 BP) – to a great extent a living vertically from the base of the living floor and are –
floor with distinct features (structures évidentes) – was together with Pit 3 – the oldest features within the
recorded. The living floor is characterized by a compact archaeological horizon AH 4. Despite the fact that there
mixture of ash coloured sediment and find material. are yet no radiocarbon dates of the human skeletal
remains, we can therefore assume that the infants were
Although only 18 m2 have been investigated so far, a rich buried at the beginning of the settlement activity
assemblage of more than 17.000 single finds was connected with the living floor.
recovered. Among these are about 7.000 burned and
unburned faunal remains as well as about 7.000 lithic Burial 1
artefacts of over 1 cm in size. Aside from many large (up
to 8 cm in size) and exceptionally well preserved pieces At the base of a flat recess, which was filled in two phases
of charcoal, several kinds of painting material such as red with find material from the main archaeological horizon
and yellow ochre, haematite, graphite and weathered shell AH 4, a shoulder blade of an adult mammoth in horizontal
limestone (for white colour) were retrieved. position was uncovered. The bone was nearly complete,
but clearly showed artificially induced traces: the joint
Just as for the production of stone tools, the complete (cavitas glenoidalis) was exposed to fire and the spina
manufacturing process can also be reconstructed for scapulae, pointing to the bottom of the pit, had been
animal remains. Aside from a few almost complete long intentionally removed by regular flaking. After recovering
bones and larger tusk fragments, medium to small bone the bone, which was supported by a piece of mammoth
flakes of mostly up to 6 cm in size, are predominant tusk, a 3-5 cm deep hollow space was encountered. Below
among the mammoth remains. They most probably result a very thin alluvial layer of Loess, the skeletons of two
from the manufacturing of bone tools and/or from babies were uncovered, embedded in red ochre (Fig. 2.
crushing bones to extract the marrow. As for mammoth 3).
ivory, even small chips resulting from carving the
material with stone tools were recorded. Recovered bone Both newborns were buried in a strongly crouched
and antler tools include a polisher made from the rib of a position with their heads to the north and their faces
mammoth, two awls and several fragments of antler towards east. The excellent preservation of this grave is
projectile points. Among ornaments such as ivory beads, due to the robust and therefore protective mammoth
perforated teeth of wolf and polar fox, the ivory pins are shoulder blade.
of particular interest. Another outstanding find is a small
fragment of fired clay with imprints of human papillary Both individuals’ crania were preserved three-dimensi-
lines and the impression of a fingernail (Svoboda et al. onally and showed considerable empty spaces even after
2004). This evidence for firing clay and several 27.000 years. The same observation was made in the case
denticulated backed bladelets in the lithic inventory of the thorax of the infant to the west (Individual 2),
provide a direct connection to the site of Josef Bayer where hollow spaces between spine and ribs were noticed.
(1930). Furthermore, these findings indicate a close A string of at least 30 drop shaped ivory beads, which had
relation to the contemporaneous southern Moravian sites, been placed around the pelvis of the baby to the west, is
like Dolní Vĕstonice, Pavlov and Předmostí (Svoboda to be considered as personal adornment or offering.
2004). The inventory is therefore referred to the Gra-
vettian. The double grave was recovered as a block and brought to
the General Hospital of Vienna, where a computer
The centre of the finds’ distribution, defined by a high tomography was taken. In the Natural History Museum
density of charcoal, faunal remains, painting material and Vienna, Department of Anthropology, the recovered
lithic artefacts, can be assumed to be located west of the block was first stored in a climate chamber until laser
excavated area. Three clearly definable features are scanning was carried out. This non-invasive procedure
stratigraphically connected with this living floor. Pit 3 is was an obligatory step in order to three-dimensionally
located on the western edge of the investigated area, and record the superficial features and bone contours and to
therefore not yet excavated completely. It descends produce scaled copies for exhibition purposes. In the


Fig. 2.3. Krems-Wachtberg (Austria): Burial 1 was

recovered as a block and moved to the Natural History Fig. 2.4. Krems-Wachtberg (Austria): Burial 2 was
Museum in Vienna, Department of Anthropology. All recovered as a block and moved to the Natural History
further investigations can thus take place in the lab Museum in Vienna, Department of Anthropology
(Photo: Natural History Museum Vienna, Department (Photo: Natural History Museum Vienna, Department
of Anthropology) of Anthropology)

laboratory, the fragile bones are being consolidated, In contrast, this burial pit had not been covered by a
carefully excavated, documented and examined anthropo- protective shoulder blade and it contained only a single
logically since that time. individual lying in a different orientation, with the head to
the south. Just like the newborns of the double burial,
The developmental stage of a deciduous incisor of Individual 3 has also been buried in a flexed position,
Individual 2 (right) allowed to estimate the age at death as facing the east and embedded in a conspicuous amount of
perinatal (9th-10th lunar month). The equal lengths of both red ochre. The sharp boundaries of the dispersion of red
right femora indicate the same age at death of both pigment indicate that at least this individual had been
newborns. Contemporaneous burial suggests they were embraced by an organic material (fur or leather?), which
twins. It was also possible to recover the ossicles of has decayed completely in the course of the millennia. In
Individual 1 (left). the case of Burial 2 it might have been fixed with the
ivory pin, which was found 2 cm above the skull. Missing
The excellently preserved burial with its skeletal remains the protection of an object like the mammoth shoulder
gives us the chance to observe details of the burial blade, this skeleton is less well preserved than those of the
practice, for example, the shape and boundaries of the red double burial.
ochre indicate that both babies have not only been
embedded in, but supposedly smeared over with this In contrast to the first burial, 3D-laserscanning was
material, probably mixed with animal fat. performed directly on site. Burial 2 was also recovered as
a block and brought to the General Hospital of Vienna for
Burial 2 computer tomography. Afterwards it was transported to
the laboratory of the Department of Anthropology at the
In summer 2006, a second burial was found about 1 m Natural History Museum in Vienna for further excavation
north of the double burial and in the same stratigraphic and special analysis. Based on the mineralization degree
position (Fig. 2.4). of the upper incisors and the length of the left femur


(approximately 85 mm), the age at death can be estimated pernutzung an der Donau vor 27.000 Jahren. Mitteil-
as 0-3 months. ungen Prähistorische Kommission der Österrei-
chischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 39: 1-97.
FLADERER, F.A. 2003. A calf-dominated mammoth age
SUMMARY profile from the 27 ka BP stadial Krems-Wachtberg
site in the middle Danube valley, in: Reumer, J.W.F.,
The finds at Krems-Wachtberg in general – the J. de Vos & D. Mol (eds.) Advances in Mammoth
technology of lithic, bone and ivory industry, the use of Research: Proceedings of the 2nd International
fired clay and settlement structures – confirm the close Mammoth Conference, Rotterdam 16-20 May 1999:
relation to the contemporaneous south Moravian sites, 135-158. Rotterdam: Deinsea 9.
like Dolní Vĕstonice, Pavlov and Předmostí. Moreover,
one could find parallels in the burial rituals and related FLADERER, F.A. & T. SALCHER 2004. Faunal remains
symbolic activities as well. This is evidenced by the use from the Krems-Hundssteig/Wachtberg Gravettian site
of red ochre, grave goods as ivory beads and the practice complex – A difference in research techniques and/or
of covering the grave with a mammoth shoulder blade site function? The Dolní Věstonice Studies 11 (The
(Trinkaus & Svoboda 2006). Gravettian along the Danube): 100-115.
NEUGEBAUER-MARESCH, C. 1999. Le Paléolithique
While Upper Palaeolithic graves of adults are better en Autriche. Grenoble: Préhistoire d'Europe 8.
documented, burial evidence of younger pre-adolescents NEUGEBAUER-MARESCH, C. 2000. Wege zur Eiszeit.
are rare. This phenomenon initiated a discussion about the Ein neues Projekt der Prähistorischen Kommission der
possible different treatment of infants at death (Zilhão & Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und
Trinkaus 2002). The burials of Krems-Wachtberg des Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen
demonstrate that newborns were already considered full Forschung. Anzeiger der phil.-hist. Klasse 135: 31-46.
members of hunter-gatherer communities 27,000 years
ago (Einwögerer et al. 2006). These findings not only NEUGEBAUER-MARESCH, C. 2003. Erste Ergebnisse
enrich the debate on the Gravettian ritual behaviour but der neuen Grabungen in Krems-Hundssteig im Rah-
also enlarge our sparse sample of Upper Palaeolithic men eines Projektes der Österreichischen Akademie
human fossil remains in Austria (Teschler-Nicola & der Wissenschaften (The Palaeolithic Project of the
Trinkaus 2001; Teschler-Nicola et al. 2004) and add to Austrian Academy of Sciences with some first results
our understanding of the ontogeny of Early Modern of the new investigations at Krems-Hundssteig).
Humans. Preistoria Alpina 39: 165-173.
NEUGEBAUER-MARESCH, C. (Ed.) 2008. Krems-
Hundssteig – Mammutjägerlager der Eiszeit. Mitte-
References ilungen Prähistorische Kommission der Österreichi-
schen Akademie der Wissenschaften 67: 1-347.
EINWÖGERER, T. 2000. Die jungpaläolithische Station SVOBODA, J. 2004. Předmostí. Kontext paleoantropolo-
auf dem Wachtberg in Krems, NÖ. Mitteilungen gických nálezŭ Předmostí. The context of paleoanthro-
Prähistorische Kommission der Österreichischen Aka- pological discoveries. Přehled výzkumů 46: 63-82.
demie der Wissenschaften 34: 1-203.
EINWÖGERER, T. 2005a. Die Auffindung einer jung- KRÁLÍK, T. EINWÖGERER & V. NOVOTNÝ 2004.
paläolithischen Säuglings-Doppelbestattung im Zuge Technological and dermatoglyphic analysis of the
neuerer Ausgrabungen am Wachtberg in Krems, NÖ. earliest ceramics: Pavlov (South Moravia) and Krems
Das Waldviertel 54/4: 399-404. (Lower Austria). Přehled Výzkumů 45: 256-259.
EINWÖGERER, T. 2005b. Die gravettienzeitliche Säug- TESCHLER-NICOLA, M., W. ANTL-WEISER & H.
lings-Doppelbestattung vom Wachtberg in Krems. PROSSINGER 2004. Two Human Deciduous Teeth
Archäologie Österreichs 16/2: 19-20. found in a Gravettian Excavation Site near Stillfried/
EINWÖGERER, T., H. FRIESINGER, M. HÄNDEL, C. March, Lower Austria. Homo 54: 229-239.
TESCHLER-NICOLA 2006. Upper Palaeolithic Human Remains from the Austrian Gravettian: The
infant burials. Decorations on the bodies of newborns Willendorf femoral diaphysis and mandibular symp-
indicate that they were probably important in their hysis. Journal of Human Evolution 40: 451-465.
community. Nature 444: 285.
TRINKAUS, E. & J. SVOBODA 2006. Early Modern
EINWÖGERER, T., M. HÄNDEL & U. SIMON 2006. Human Evolution in Central Europe. The People of
Die Fortsetzung der Ausgrabungen an der Gravettien- Dolní Vĕstonice and Pavlov. Oxford: University Press.
fundstelle Krems-Wachtberg 2006. Das Waldviertel
55/4: 428-433. ZILHÃO, J. & E. TRINKAUS 2002. Portrait of the Artist
as a Child. Lisboa: Trabalhos de Arqueologia 22.
FLADERER, F.A. 2001. Die Faunareste von Krems- Instituto Português de Arqueologia.
Wachtberg, Ausgrabung 1930. Jagdwild und Tierkör-

Françoise Le MORT
Université Lyon 2, CNRS UMR 5133, “Archéorient: Environnements et Sociétés de l’Orient Ancien”,
Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée – Jean Pouilloux, Lyon, France,

Abstract: Among the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Cypriot sites, six have yielded human remains. The largest series has been unearthed at
Khirokitia (7th – early 6th millennium cal. BC). The sample (240 accessible individuals) includes a large proportion of infants less
than one year of age, most of them deceased perinatally, as well as a low proportion of juveniles more than one year old. At this site,
infants were buried under the floors of the houses like other juveniles and adults. The burials are primary, most of them single. Only
slight differences between infant and other burials appear.
Key words: Infants, burials, Pre-Pottery Neolithic, Cyprus

Résumé: Parmi les sites néolithiques précéramiques chypriotes, six ont livré des restes humains. La série la plus importante a été
mise au jour à Khirokitia (7e- début du 6e millénaire av. J.-C.). Le matériel accessible (240 individus) comprend une forte proportion
d’enfants de moins d’un an, décédés pour la plupart durant la période périnatale, ainsi qu’une faible proportion d’enfants de plus
d’un an. Sur ce site, les très jeunes enfants sont inhumés sous le sol des habitations, comme les autres sujets immatures et adultes.
Les sépultures sont primaires et, dans leur immense majorité, individuelles. Les différences entre les tombes des très jeunes enfants
et les celles des autres défunts sont très discrètes.
Mots-clés: très jeunes enfants, sépultures, Néolithique précéramique, Chypre

INTRODUCTION human remains dating back to the 8th millennium cal. BC

(Guilaine et al. 2002 & 2003; Crubézy et al. 2003; Fox et
Age-related mortuary practices have been documented at al. 2003), the oldest known from Cyprus.
various archaeological sites belonging to many different
cultures (i.e. Dunand 1973; Sellier 1995; Sansilbano- A recent reappraisal of Kalavassos-Tenta, in the southern
Collilieux 2000; Murail et al. 2004). Furthermore, coastal zone of the island, has brought to light a revised
specific funeral treatment devoted to infants who had chronological scheme, which tends to assign the earliest
been stillborn or had died shortly after birth or the period of the site (period 5) to the Early and Middle Pre-
presence of a reserved funeral area for these very young Pottery Neolithic B, and the next periods (4-2) to the Late
individuals have been often observed (i.e. Duday et al. Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, in mainland terms (Todd 2003).
1995; Coqueugniot et al. 1998). Fourteen burials containing a minimum of 18 individuals
were uncovered at the site (Todd 1987; Moyer 2005).
As far as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Near East is concer- Half of them were found in subfloor grave pits, in
ned, one of the largest series of infant1 burials has been buildings belonging to period 4. The others were
unearthed at the site of Khirokitia in Cyprus (Le Mort excavated outside buildings.
2000). The high number of such burials discovered at this
site offers a singular opportunity for discussion on aspects Skeletal remains dating back to the 7th and early 6th
of mortuary behaviour and attitudes towards infants. millennium cal. BC, that is the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic
in Cyprus, have been uncovered at Khirokitia and two
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean; its more sites, Kholetria-Ortos in western Cyprus (Simmons
tip is only 70 km from the Turkish coast and 120 km from 1996 & 2003), and Cap Andreas Kastros in north-eastern
Syria. The first visitors reached the southern coast of the Cyprus (Le Brun 1981; Massei Solivères 1981). The
island in the early 10th millennium cal. BC (Simmons Khirokitia series is the largest for the Neolithic of Cyprus
1988 & 2004). and one of the largest in Near Eastern Neolithic.

Excavations at the southern site of Parekklisha-

Shillourokambos and at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, in the
western part of the island, provided evidence of the
The site of Khirokitia, situated on a hill, at about 6 km
presence of farmers in Cyprus from the 9th millennium
directly from the present southern coast of the island (Fig.
cal. BC (Guilaine et al. 2000; Peltenburg et al. 2000;
3.1), was first excavated by Dikaios between 1936 and
Guilaine 2003; Peltenburg 2003). Both sites have yielded
1946 (Dikaios 1953). After a few soundings (Stanley
1 Price & Christou 1973; Le Brun & Stanley Price 1977),
The term infant is used as defined by Scheuer & Black (2004). The
group infants thus comprises the individuals who died between birth and the excavations directed by A. Le Brun were renewed in
the end of the first year. 1977 (Le Brun 1984, 1989a & 1994; Le Brun & Daune-


Fig. 3.1. Site location (map by the Service Cartographies of the Maison de l’Orient
et de la Méditerranée – Jean Pouilloux)

Le Brun 2003). The occupation of the site, which analysis of the published data made us hypothesize that
illustrates the late phase of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the few burials considered by Dikaios as including more
Cyprus, took place in the 7th and early 6th millennium cal. than one individual correspond to superimposed single
BC. The settlement area could be evaluated at approxima- burials (Le Mort 2003). Thus the total number of buried
tely 1.5 hectare of which only a part (about 4.000 m2) has individuals is 146, estimated on the basis of descriptions
been explored. The village consists of houses composed published by Dikaios. During the soundings carried out in
of several round-shape buildings. It is divided into two 1972 in the part of the site previously investigated by
sectors, east and west, by a long wall running through the Dikaios, some human remains were found but their burial
settlement on that side, which is not naturally protected by treatment is not clear (Stanley Price & Christou 1972).
the river. It must have been built to enclose the earlier Recent excavations have yielded at least 105 individuals
settlement, i.e. the east sector. Later, the village extended more4.
beyond this boundary, thus making the west sector. In the
course of recent excavation, nine stratigraphical levels (A These are primary burials; there is no indication of
to H, J)2 have been recognized in the east sector and three secondary treatment of human remains. The burial pits
(I to III) in the west sector. The inhabitants of Khirokitia were dug into the floors of houses while those houses
were engaged in farming, herding and hunting activities were occupied. A few burials could not be related to any
(Hansen 1994; Le Brun 1996; Davis 2003). building; nevertheless, as they were close to the surface,
the erosion could have destroyed the building in the floor
Many burials were discovered at the site. In the part of which they have been dug in.
explored by Dikaios, they are distributed in all excavated
areas (Dikaios 1953). In the area recently excavated, they
were found in all levels except for the oldest three (levels
G, H, J) but it has to be noticed that these levels have
been explored on a limited area (Le Brun 1984, 1989a, b
& 1994, as well as personal communication; Le Mort
1994 & 2000). It is difficult to establish the exact number Excavation
of graves found during the old excavations for two
reasons: first, some of them have not been published in The techniques used by Dikaios for excavating burials are
the final report (Niklasson 1991)3, and second, the not described in the report (Dikaios 1953). According to
the published photographs, drawings and descriptions, it
A. Le Brun, personal communication. yet appears that a careful work was carried out on the
The reappraisal of the skeletal remains stored in the Cyprus Museum
allowed us to confirm the presence of remains from burials the number Two recently discovered burials, the skeletal remains of which have
of which does not appear in Dikaios’ publication (1953). not yet been studied, are not included in this number.


field. Besides, while we studied the juvenile5 skeletons (Tillier & Duday 1990). Whenever possible, the dental
from the old excavations, we noticed that tiny bones of calcification was considered. Nevertheless, the incomple-
infants deceased perinatally such as hand and foot bones tely calcified teeth of very young infants and foetuses
were not rare; the tooth buds of those infants are few, but being often broken or missing, the bone size was, in many
their scarcity is probably due to the lack of sieving. cases, the only available indicator of age. Standards for
estimating foetal length and, subsequently, perinatal age
The burials uncovered during recent excavations were all from individual bones were provided by several authors.
excavated using careful methods. From 1986, specific We employed the standards developed by Fazekas &
meticulous excavation techniques including the recording Kosa (1978) which are based on a large reference sample.
of every bone or bone piece on the field (Duday et al. However, further studies (Bruzek, Sellier & Tillier 1997)
1990; Tillier & Duday 1990) have been applied in order have shown that an error of estimation exists because of
to collect as many data as possible for the biological study the individual and interpopulational variability. The esti-
and for the analysis of funerary practices. Moreover, the mates should consequently be considered with caution.
photographs and drawings from Dikaios’ publication That is the reason why all the individuals deceased
(1953) have been re-examined using the methods of perinatally (foetuses more than six lunar months old,
“anthropologie de terrain” (Duday et al. 1990) in order to stillborns and infants under one month of age) were
complement the published descriptions. treated generally.

Skeletal Sample The reliability of morphological and morphometric

analyses for sexual diagnosis in children being very low
The material from Dikaios’ excavations was partly (Majo 1996), no gender identification of young indivi-
analysed by Angel (1953)6 and then by Kurth (1958) and duals could be performed.
Charles (1962). A specific study of the dental pathology
was later carried out by Taramidis (1983) and Mitsis &
Taramidis (1995). The few remains found during the THE INFANT BURIALS
soundings were shortly reported (Stanley Price &
Christou 1973). A reappraisal of all accessible remains Age distribution
has been carried out, in parallel with the study of the
skeletons from recent excavations. The biological study The studied skeletal sample consists of 109 infants less
took into account the estimation of age at death, sex than one year old, 25 other juveniles and 106 adults (> 20
diagnosis, metrical characteristics, discrete traits, body years). The juveniles/adults ratio (56%) appears to be
modifications, pathology and chemical analysis (Lange- consistent with an ancient population (Ledermann 1969;
Badré & Le Mort 1998; Le Mort 2000, 2003 & 2007 (in Sellier 1996). On the other hand, the age distribution of
press); Harter-Lailheugue et al. 2005). juveniles is quite unusual (Le Mort 2000); it reveals a
high proportion of infants less than one year old, most of
Part of the human remains unearthed by Dikaios is now them (91%) deceased perinatally, as well as a low
missing. The reappraisal of the skeletons uncovered proportion of juveniles more than one year old (Table
during the old excavations and in the course of the 3.1). With reference to data from historical demography,
soundings, and the study of the human remains from the normal perinates/infants less than one year old ratio in
recent excavations allowed us to identify 240 individuals pre-industrial populations ranges between 43% and 52%
(Minimum Number of Individuals)7. (Dupâquier 1979).

Estimation of age at death of juvenile individuals8

Tab. 3.1. Age distribution
Dental maturation is the most accurate indicator of
chronological age for juvenile individuals (Saunders et al. Age group Number
1993). It was analysed, applying the methods developed
by Moorres et al. (1963a, b) whenever possible or 0 of whom: 109
Ubelaker (1978) in the other cases. Perinates 99

The estimation of age at death for perinatal individuals Others (1 month – 1 year) 10
highly depends on the state of preservation of the skeleton 1-19 years 25
In this text, the term juvenile is used for any stage of life that is not Adults (> 20 years) 106
truly adult (Scheuer & Black 2004).
6 Total 240
The sample examined by Angel comprises only 34 infants whereas the
analysis of the published burial data gives a total of 62. Some of the
skeletons were probably considered unsuitable for study.
This sample does not include the remains from the two recently
discovered burials (see above).
At Khirokitia, the funerary practices are as a whole
The age at death is the only biological attribute that will be discussed homogenous. There are no indications that notable
in this paper, in relation to funerary practices. changes occurred over time.


Location and type of burial skeleton or the lack of accurate data did not allow us to
determine the initial position of the body for certainty. For
No reserved funeral area for any age group was found. the infants unearthed during old excavations, the only
The dead are buried in the same way, whatever their age available data being the tiny sketches published in the
is. Most of the buildings yielded one or several burials, report (Dikaios 1953), most of the time, the burial
belonging either to single or to various stratigraphical position could not be recognized.
levels (Le Brun 1984, 1989a, b & 1994). Burials of a
single age group (adults, juveniles or infants) may be The side on which the dead lies was recognized for 104
found in one building. In other cases, adult burials were individuals including 62 adults, 30 infants (all of them
found together with older juveniles and/or infant burials. deceased perinatally) and 12 other juveniles. Eight
There is no special part of the house reserved for graves. positions have been observed. The body may lie on the
right or left side, on the back (Fig. 3.2) or on the face
The buildings where infant burials have been found are (Fig. 3.3). In a number of cases, the body rests in a
distributed all over the investigated area. It is interesting particular position, partly on the back and partly on the
to notice that two houses from the west sector have right/left side showing ¾ of the skeleton’s anterior part or
yielded a large amount of perinatal burials. Seven peri- partly on the face and partly on the right/left side showing
natal individuals were buried under floor 319 of construc- ¾ of the skeleton’s posterior part (Figs. 3.4 and 3.5). Such
tion S. 89 (level Ic) (Le Brun 1984 & 1989a)9; no other positions have been considered as close to the right or left
graves were discovered in this building. Construction S. lateral decubitus and thus included in their number.
106 is also noteworthy; one adult burial belonging to level Whatever the age of the deceased, the most common
Ia (Le Brun 1984) and twelve perinatal burials (levels Ib position is on the right side; a less common position is on
and Ic10) were found there. The only case of double burial the face (Table 3.2).
recorded at Khirokitia comes from this building where
one of the burial pits contained the remains of two indivi-
duals deceased perinatally (possibly twins). Furthermore,
three buildings excavated by Dikaios in the west sector
(“tholos” X(II), XV(II), and XLVII) yielded many infant
burials (up to 25 in “tholos” XLVII) (Dikaios 1953)
distributed between the various floors; they contained
mainly remains of perinatal individuals11. Adult and child
burials were also found in these buildings (Dikaios 1953).

Position and orientation of the body

The shape and dimensions of the grave pits vary but they
are usually small. The bodies are buried in a contracted

In 1953, Dikaios classified the burials into 11 types, on

the basis of the degree of contraction of the body and of
the side on which it lies. This classification does not seem
to take into account the infants; their position was not
described in the publication. Fig. 3.2. Infant burial 624 (building 126, level B,
east sector) lying on the back (drawing by O. Le Brun,
Recent excavations have confirmed that various burial
French Archaeological Mission at Khirokitia)
positions had been represented at Khirokitia. In order to
clarify them, the published data were re-examined in
parallel with the analysis of “recently” excavated graves.
In a number of cases, the bad state of preservation of the The degree of contraction of the body could be
determined for 108 individuals including 70 adults, 26
The published number of individuals is 8, but the anthropological study infants (all of them deceased perinatally) and 12 other
led us to conclude that remains considered in the field as belonging to juveniles. Three different positions regarding the contra-
two different incomplete skeletons actually represent a single individual. ction of the skeleton were identified: tightly contracted
A. Le Brun, personal communication. when the upper and lower limbs are tightly flexed on the
Dikaios used two different series of numbers for the burials and trunk; contracted when the lower limbs are bent at an
human remains. Most of the skeletons stored in the Cyprus Museum
have preserved their original wooden label indicating their number and, acute angle to the spine; and slightly contracted when
generally, the number of the building they come from. In a number of they are bent at a right or obtuse angle to the spine. Most
cases, especially from buildings which yielded many burials, the con- of the adult skeletons are tightly contracted while the
cordance between skeleton numbers and burial numbers is impossible to most of juveniles are contracted (Table 3.3). In certain
establish for a certainty. If we take into account only the individuals that
could be attributed without any doubt to construction XLVII, the cases, the adult body is so strongly contracted that it very
remains of 16 infants have been identified, 14 of whom died perinatally. likely was forced into this position. It could have been


Fig. 3.4. Infant burial 830 (building 122, level C, east

sector) including a stone on the body (a) and after
Fig. 3.3. Infant burial 563 (building 123, level A, east removal of the stone (b)
sector) resting on the face (drawing by O. Le Brun,
French Archaeological Mission at Khirokitia)

Tab. 3.2. Burial position

(* infants are excluded from the juveniles)

Adults Juveniles* Infants

(N=62) (N=12) (N=30)
Right side 45% 67% 47%
Left side 32% 17% 27%
Back 15% 8% 20%
Face 8% 8% 6%

Tab. 3.3. Degree of body contraction

(* infants are excluded from the juveniles)

Adults Juveniles* Infants

(N=70) (N=12) (N=26)
Tightly contracted 69% 17% 23% Fig. 3.5. Infant burial 538 (building 123, level A, east
sector). A fallow deer scapula has been placed on the
Contracted 24% 58% 69% head of the infant (drawing by O. Le Brun, French
Slightly contracted 7% 25% 8% Archaeological Mission at Khirokitia)

(Dikaios 1983; Le Brun 1984, 1989a, b & 1994; Le Mort

held by a bag, bonds or some other means but the position 1994). These stones can be divided into 3 categories:
could also have been maintained by the narrow burial pit. rough stones, querns and worked stones. They were
It might be assumed that the degree of contraction of the mostly found in adult burials but some of them come
deceased is only related to the body size, the juvenile from juvenile graves as well. Contrary to what is known
bodies needing less room than the adults. Nevertheless, from other juvenile burials, no quern or worked stone was
the hypothesis of a link between the age at death and the deposited in infant burials; only rough stone were found
degree of contraction, as part of burial position, cannot be in a few (4) infant graves, one of which contained an
totally ruled out. A high variability in the body orientation individual who had not died perinatally.
was observed for all age groups.
Stone vessels, often including spouted stone bowls, were
Grave goods also discovered in some adult and juvenile tombs (Dikaios
1983; Le Brun 1984, 1989a, b & 1994). They are rarely
Inclusions are quite rare in the graves. Less than ¼ of the associated with infants; four examples are known from
burials include one or several big stones on the body Dikaios’ excavations. In “tholos” X(II), a spouted stone


bowl, bottom up, was placed on the legs of infant VIII tants of Khirokitia gave a specific treatment to the peri-
and another one has been deposited upside down on the natal individuals leading to a better preservation of their
left part of infant IX body. In another “tholos” (XV(II)), a skeletal remains and allowing frequent discovery of their
spouted stone bowl laid in fragments under one infant burials while excavating the houses. The rarity of the
skeleton (V). Finally, among the numerous infant graves other juvenile graves would be the consequence of burial
from “tholos” XLVII, one (XXVII) contained a small customs including the inhumation of most of them in a
spouted stone bowl placed upside down on the remains of place not yet discovered. Taking into account the
the individual12. homogeneity of mortuary practices at the site, such a
hypothesis looks unlikely.
Animal bones were sometimes associated with human
remains in the burials. Such an association mainly A high ratio of infants who died perinatally to other
concerns juveniles (3 cases involving 2 infants), the only juveniles can be an indication of infanticide (Molleson
case of an adult burial being not definite (Le Brun 1984 & 1991). Further evidence for the sex ratio of the infant
1989a). In construction S.123 (east sector, level A), a sample and/or possible specific age-related mortuary
fallow deer scapula has been deposited on the head of an practices is yet needed to prove such a practice (Faerman
infant (locus 538) who died during the perinatal period, et al. 1998). At Khirokitia, it seems improbable, taking
covering its face (Fig. 3.3). This is a unique discovery at into account again the homogeneity of mortuary practices
the site. Nevertheless, it can be compared to the stones at the site.
laid on the body in certain burials (Le Brun 1989a). These
stones might be placed on the head (most of the The high proportion of infants deceased perinatally might
instances), on the trunk, on the pelvis or on the lower be due to specific pathological conditions. Porotic bone
limbs (Le Brun 1989b). In another burial (locus 382, lesions were found to be frequent among infants and other
building 89, level Ic, west sector), containing the body of juveniles (Le Mort 2003). It is interesting to notice that a
a perinatal infant, a sheep or goat horn was placed beside high percentage of the infant age group was also pointed
the skeleton (Le Brun 1984). out for the small skeletal series (18 individuals) from the
neighbouring site of Kalavassos-Tenta and that these
Six necklaces as well as rare flint and bone tools were human remains also exhibit porotic bone lesions (Todd
found in adult and juvenile burials but no clear associa- 1987; Moyer 2005). A number of etiologies have been
tion with infant graves has been evidenced (Dikaios 1953 suggested for such lesions (i.e. Stuart Macadam 1992;
& Le Brun 1984, 1989a, b). Auferheide & Rodriguez-Martin 1998; Schultz 2001;
Wapler et al. 2004); they might be indicative of a poor
health status leading to a high perinatal mortality.
No infant remains have been reported from the other
At Khirokitia, infants are buried in the same way as the Cypriot sites dating to the 7th – early 6th millennium BC,
other juveniles and adults, apart from slight differences. that is Cap Andreas Kastros and Kholetria Ortos. At
The small number of infants who did not die perinatally Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, the incomplete remains of at
and the lack of accurate data regarding their burials did least five individuals including no infant bones were
not allow us to make comparisons between perinates and recovered from well 133. Five bone fragments from an
other infants. individual of possible late foetal age were found in
another well (116) but their conditions of deposition do
The unusual juvenile age distribution observed at not appear clearly (Peltenburg et al., 2000; Fox et al.,
Khirokitia reflects, in all likelihood, demographic anoma- 2003; Peltenburg 2003).
lies (Le Mort 2000). Several hypotheses could account for
the very high proportion of infants deceased perinatally. The infant funerary practices at Khirokitia may be com-
pared to those observed at Kalavassos-Tenta and Parekk-
It might be assumed that the age distribution of the lisha-Shillourokambos.
juvenile skeletal remains from Khirokitia is due to an
uneven archaeological sampling. Nevertheless, comparing At Kalavassos-Tenta, the dead are usually buried singly
the remains from old excavations to those from recent but a pit containing the remains of four infants was found,
excavations in different areas of the site, or comparing the possibly deposited during two separate episodes, as well
remains from the east and west sectors, a quite similar as a burial described as secondary, including the remains
picture appears: the perinatal group is over-represented in of two adult individuals. Apart from this grave, the burials
any case (Le Mort 2000). are primary, consisting of bodies in a contracted position.
No age-related mortuary practices have been evidenced at
Another possibility would be the existence of age-related the site (Moyer 2005).
mortuary practices. It might be assumed that the inhabi-
12 At Parekklisha-Shillourokambos, a large cavity of anthro-
Since it is impossible to establish for certainty the concordance
between infant burials and skeletons’ numbers from these buildings, the pogenic origin produced a collective burial, including
age of these infants cannot be specified. juvenile but no infant remains, as well as three single


adult burials (Crubézy et al. 2003). Three infant and four working at the Nicosia and Larnaka Museums. The
adult graves were found in another sector of the site discussions with H. Duday, M. Sansilbano-Collilieux and
(Guilaine et al. 2002, 2003). A.M. Tillier during this work were very useful to me.

It thus seems that mortuary practices were more

diversified at Parekklisha-Shillourokambos. The small References
amount of infant remains from the this site does not allow
to point out age-related burial customs but indicate ANGEL, J.L. 1953. The human remains from Khirokitia,
nevertheless that, at least in certain cases, infants were not in P. Dikaios (ed.) Khirokitia. Final report on the
treated like the other individuals. excavation of a Neolithic settlement in Cyprus on
behalf of the Department of Antiquities 1936-1946:
416-430. Oxford: University Press (Monograph of the
CONCLUSION Department of Antiquities of the Government of
Cyprus 1).
With its huge number of infant burials, the site of AUFDERHEIDE, A.C. & C. RODRIGUEZ-MARTIN
Khirokitia shed light on burial customs in the Late Pre- 1998. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human
Pottery Neolithic in Cyprus. Contrary to what is Paleopathology. Cambridge: University Press.
commonly observed in ancient populations, no specific
funeral treatment devoted to infants who had been BRUZEK, J., P. SELLIER & A.M. TILLIER 1997.
stillborn or had died shortly after birth and no reserved Variabilité et incertitude de l’estimation de l’âge des
funeral area for these very young individuals seem to non-adultes: le cas des individus morts en période
have existed at Khirokitia. périnatale, in L. Buchet (ed.) L’enfant, son corps, son
histoire: 187-200. Sophia-Antipolis: Éditions APDCA.
Many studies pointed out a lack of infants in ancient CASTEX, D., H. DUDAY & M. GUILLON 1996.
populations (i.e. Guy et al. 1997). High percentage of Mortalité périnatale/mortalité infantile: validité du
infants and especially of perinatal infants in such rapport démographique et intérêt en palethnologie
populations was rarely recorded (Molleson 1991; Castex funéraire à propos de trois sites médiévaux, in L.
et al. 1996). Various reasons could account for this Buchet (ed.) L’identité des populations archéologi-
unusual demographic picture: age related burial customs, ques: 427-441. Sophia Antipolis: Éditions APDCA.
infanticide, particular pathological conditions. At CHARLES, R.P. 1962. Le peuplement de Chypre dans
Khirokitia, the unusual age distribution can be totally l’Antiquité. Paris: de Boccard (Études chypriotes II).
explained neither by an uneven archaeological sampling,
nor by cultural practices such as burial customs or COQUEUGNIOT, H., É. CRUBÉZY, S. HÉROIN, S. &
infanticide. Specific pathological conditions might have B. MIDANT-REYNES 1998. La nécropole nagadi-
occurred. enne d’Adaïma. Distribution par âge des sujets du
secteur est. Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéo-
The comparison between funerary practices at the Pre- logie Orientale 98: 127-137.
Pottery Neolithic sites in Cyprus reveals an evolution CRUBÉZY, É., J.D. VIGNE, J. GUILAINE, T.
resulting at Khirokitia in quite homogenous burial GIRAUD, P. GÉRARD & F. BRIOIS 2003. Aux
customs, which included primary burials, usually of a origines des sépultures collectives: la structure 23 de
single individual, whatever the age of the dead. Burial Shillourokambos (Chypre, 7500 B.C.) in J. Guilaine &
customs as well as many other features (Le Brun & A. Le Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique de Chypre: 295-311.
Daune-Le Brun 2003) confirm the specificity of the late Athènes and Paris: École Française d’Athènes (Bulle-
phase of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in Cyprus. tin de Correspondance Hellénique, supplément 43).
DAVIS, S.J.M. 2003. The zooarchaeology of Khirokitia
(Neolithic Cyprus) including a view from the main-
Acknowledgments land, in J. Guilaine & A. Le Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique
de Chypre: 253-268. Athènes and Paris: École Fran-
I wish to express my gratitude to A. Le Brun who have çaise d’Athènes (Bulletin de Correspondance Helléni-
entrusted to me the study of the burials and skeletal que, supplément 43).
remains from Khirokitia. I am also grateful to S.
Hadjisavvas and D. Christou, former Directors of the DIKAIOS, P. 1953. Khirokitia. Final report on the
Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, for allowing me to excavation of a Neolithic settlement in Cyprus on
study the skeletal remains from Dikaios’ excavations at behalf of the Department of Antiquities 1936-1946.
Khirokitia, at the Cyprus Museum. Thanks are also given Oxford: University Press (Monograph of the Depart-
to O. Le Brun for her help while excavating and studying ment of Antiquities of the Government of Cyprus 1).
the burials, to L. Astruc, C. Baron, A. Fontaine, O. Perez DUDAY, H., P. COURTAUD, É. CRUBÉZY, P.
and S. Veschi for their assistance on the field and during SELLIER & A.M. TILLIER 1990. L’anthropologie
the cleaning and reconstruction of skeletons as well as to “de terrain”: reconnaissance et interprétation des
G. Christou and A. Savvas for their kind help while gestes funéraires, in É. Crubézy, H. Duday, P. Sellier


& A.M. Tillier (ed.) Anthropologie et archéologie: HANSEN, J. 1994. Khirokitia plant remains: Preliminary
dialogue sur les ensembles funéraires. Bulletins et report (1986, 1988-1990), in A. Le Brun (ed.) Fouilles
Mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, n. récentes à Khirokitia (Chypre), 1988-1991: 393-409.
s., 2, 3-4: 89-98. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations.
1995. Sallèles d’Aude. Nouveau-nés et nourrissons VIGNE, J. GUILAINE, A. LE BRUN & F.
gallo-romains. Paris: Les Belles Lettres (Annales BOUCHET 2005. Premières données parasitologiques
littéraires de l’Université de Besançon 563, Centre de sur les populations humaines précéramiques
recherches d’histoire ancienne 144, série Amphores chypriotes (VIIIe et VIIe millénaires av. J.-C.).
3). Paléorient 31/2: 43-54.
DUNAND, M. 1973. Fouilles de Byblos, tome V. KURTH, G. 1958. Zur Stellung der neolitischen Men-
L’architecture, les tombes, le matériel domestique, des schenreste von Khirokitia auf Cypern. Homo 9: 20-31.
origines néolithiques à l’avènement urbain. Paris:
LANGE BADRÉ, B. & F. LE MORT 1998. Isotopes
stables du carbone et de l’azote et éléments traces
DUPÂQUIER, J. 1979. La population rurale du Bassin indicateurs du régime alimentaire de la population
parisien à l’époque de Louis XIV. Paris: Éditions de néolithique de Khirokitia (Chypre), In G. Camps (ed.)
l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales and L’Homme préhistorique et la mer, 120e congrès
Lille: Publications de l’Université de Lille III. CTHS, Aix-en-Provence, 23-26 oct. 1995: 415-426.
FAERMAN, M., G. KAHILA BAR-GAL, D. FILON, Paris: Éditions du CTHS.
C.L. GREENBLATT, L. STAGER, A. OPPENHEIM LEDERMANN, S. 1969. Nouvelles tables-types de
& P. SMITH 1998. Determining the sex of infanticide mortalité. Paris: P.U.F. (Institut National d’études
victims from the Late Roman Era through ancient démographiques, Travaux et Documents, cahier 53).
DNA Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 25:
LE BRUN, A. 1981. Un site néolithique pré-céramique en
Chypre: Cap Andreas-Kastros. Paris: Éditions
FAZEKAS, I.G. & F. KOSA 1978. Forensic foetal Recherche sur les Civilisations.
osteology. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiado.
LE BRUN, A. 1984. Fouilles récentes à Khirokitia
FOX, S., D.A. LUNT & M.E. WATT 2003. Human (Chypre), 1977-1981. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur
remains, in E. Peltenburg (ed.). The colonisation and les Civilisations.
settlement of Cyprus. Investigations at Kissonerga-
LE BRUN, A. 1989a. Fouilles récentes à Khirokitia
Mylouthkia, 1976-1996: 43-47. Sävedalen: Aströms
(Chypre), 1983-1986. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur
(Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 90/4).
les Civilisations.
GUILAINE, J. 2003. Parekklisha-Shillourokambos. Péri-
LE BRUN, A. 1989b. Le traitement des morts et les
odisation et aménagements domestiques, in J. Guilaine
représentations des vivants à Khirokitia, in E. Pelten-
& A. Le Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique de Chypre: 4-14.
burg (ed.) Early Society in Cyprus: 71-81. Edinburgh:
Athènes and Paris: École Française d’Athènes (Bulle-
Edinburgh University Press.
tin de Correspondance Hellénique, supplément 43).
LE BRUN, A. 1994. Fouilles récentes à Khirokitia
(Chypre), 1988-1991. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur
2000. Découverte d’un Néolithique précéramique
les Civilisations.
ancien chypriote (fin 9e, début 8e millénaire cal. BC),
apparenté au PPNB ancien/moyen du Levant Nord. LE BRUN, A. 1996. L’économie de Chypre au Néo-
Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences (série II) lithique, in V. Karageorghis & D. Michaelides (ed.)
330: 75-82. The development of the Cypriot economy from the
GUILAINE, J., F. BRIOIS, J.D. VIGNE, I. CARRERE, prehistoric period to the present day: 1-15. Nicosia:
C.A. de CHAZELLES, J. COLLONGE, H. GAZZAL, Lithographica.
G. WILLCOX 2002. L’habitat néolithique pré-céra- aspects du Néolithique pré-céramique récent de
mique de Shillourokambos (Parekklisha, Chypre). Chypre: Khirokitia et Cap Andreas-Kastros, in J. Gui-
Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 126: 590-597. laine & A. Le Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique de Chypre:
GUILAINE, J., F. BRIOIS, J.-D. VIGNE, T. PERRIN, C. 45-59. Athènes and Paris: École Française d’Athènes
MANEN, I. CARRERE, P. GÉRARD, Y. BELIEZ, (Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, supplément 43).
& G. WILLCOX 2003. Shillourokambos (Parekklisha, 1976. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 101:
Chypre). Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 127: 733-736.
564-573. LE MORT, F. 1994. Les sépultures, in A. Le Brun (ed)
GUY, H., C. MASSET & C.A. BAUD 1997. Infant Fouilles récentes à Khirokitia (Chypre), 1988-1991:
Taphonomy. International Journal of Osteoarchaeo- 157-198. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisa-
logy 7: 221-229. tions.


LE MORT, F. 2000. The Neolithic subadult skeletons PELTENBURG, E., S. COLLEDGE, P. CROFT, A.
from Khirokitia (Cyprus): Taphonomy and infant JACKSON, C. McCARTNEY C & M.A. MURRAY
mortality. Anthropologie (Brno) XXXVIII, 1: 63-70. 2000. Agro-pastoralist colonization of Cyprus in the
LE MORT, F. 2003. Les restes humains de Khirokitia: 10th millenium BP: initial assessments. Antiquity 74:
particularités et interprétations, in J. Guilaine & A. Le 844-853.
Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique de Chypre: 313-325. PELTENBURG, E. 2003. Conclusions: Mylouthkia 1 and
Athènes and Paris: École Française d’Athènes the early colonists of Cyprus, in E. Peltenburg (ed.)
(Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, supplément The colonisation and settlement of Cyprus. Investiga-
43). tions at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, 1976-1996: 83-103.
LE MORT, F. 2007 (in press). Artificial cranial Sävedalen: Paul Aströms Förlag (Studies in Medi-
deformation in the Aceramic Neolithic Near-East: terranean Archaeology 90/4).
Evidence from Cyprus, in M. Faerman, L. Kolska SANSILBANO-COLLILIEUX, M. 2000. The non-adults
Horwitz, T. Kahana & U. Zilberman (ed.) Faces from of the necropolis of the Old Bishop’s Palace of
the Past, Diachronic patterns in the Biology of Human Poitiers (4th century) and Saint-Martin-de-Cognac (7th-
Populations from the Eastern Mediterranean, Papers in 15th centuries) in France. Palaeodemography and
honour of Patricia Smith: 151-158. Oxford: Archaeo- funerary practices. Anthropologie (Brno) XXXVIII, 1:
press (B.A.R. International Series). 83-100.
MAJO, T. 1996. Réflexions méthodologiques liées à la SAUNDERS, S., C. DeVITO, A. HERRING, R.
diagnose sexuelle des squelettes non-adultes, in D. SOUTHERN & R. HOPPA 1993. Accuracy tests of
Castex, P. Courtaud, P. Sellier, H. Duday & J. Bruzek tooth formation age estimations for human skeletal
(ed.) Les ensembles funéraires: du terrain à remains. American Journal of Physical Anthropology
l’interprétation. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société 92: 173-188.
d’Anthropologie de Paris, n.s., 8, 3-4: 481-490. SCHEUER, L. & S. BLACK 2004. The juvenile skeleton.
MASSEI SOLIVERES, O. 1981. Étude des crânes du Cap London, San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press.
Andreas-Kastros, in A. Le Brun (ed.) Un site SCHULTZ, M. 2001. Paleohistopathology of bone: A
néolithique pré-céramique en Chypre: Cap Andreas- new approach to the study of ancient diseases. Year-
Kastros: 83-87. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les book of Physical Anthropology 44: 106-147.
SELLIER, P. 1995. Paléodémographie et archéologie
MITISIS, J. & G. TARAMIDIS 1995. Alveolar bone loss funéraire: les cimetières de Mehrgarh, Pakistan. Palé-
on Neolithic man remains on 38 skulls of Khirokitia’s orient 21, 2: 123-143.
(Cyprus) inhabitants. Journal of Clinical Periodonto-
logy 22: 788-793. SELLIER, P. 1996. La mise en évidence d’anomalies
démographiques et leur interprétation: population,
MOLLESON, T. 1991. Demographic implications of the recrutement et pratiques funéraires du tumulus de
age structure of early English cemetery sample, in L. Courtesoult, in J.F. Piningre (ed.) Le tumulus de
Buchet (ed.) Ville et campagne en Europe occidentale Courtesoult (Haute-Saône) et le 1er Âge du Fer dans
(Ve-XIIIe siècle): 113-122. Paris: Éditions du CNRS le bassin supérieur de la Saône: 188-202. Paris:
(Dossier de Documentation Archéologique 14). Éditons de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme
1963a. Formation and resorption of three deciduous SIMMONS, A.H., 1988. Extinct pygmy hippopotamus
teeth in children. American Journal of Physical and early man in Cyprus. Nature 333: 554-557.
Anthropology 21: 205-213.
SIMMONS, A.H. 1996. Preliminary report on
MOORREES, C.F.A., E.A. FANNING & E.E. HUNT Jr. multidisciplinary investigations at Neolithic Kholetria-
1963b. Age variation of formation stages for ten Ortos, Paphos District. Report of the Departement of
permanent teeth. Journal of Dental Research 42: 1490- Antiquities, Cyprus: 29-44.
SIMMONS, A.H. 2003. Villages without walls, cows
MOYER, C.J. 2005. Human burials, in I.A. Todd (ed.) without corrals, in J. Guilaine & A. Le Brun (ed.) Le
Vassilikos Valley project 7: Excavations at Kalavasos- Néolithique de Chypre: 61-70. Athènes and Paris:
Tenta, volume II: 1-15. Jonsered: Paul Aströms Förlag École Française d’Athènes (Bulletin de Correspon-
(Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 71/7). dance Hellénique, supplément 43).
MURAIL, P., B. MAUREILLE, D. PERESINOTTO & F. SIMMONS, A.H. 2004. Bitter hippos of Cyprus: the
GEUS 2004. An infant cemetery of the Classic Kerma island’s first occupants and last endemic animals -
period (1750-1500 BC, Island of Saï, Sudan). setting the stage for colonization, in E. Peltenburg &
Antiquity 78: 267-277. A. Wasse (ed.) Neolithic Revolution, New perspecti-
NIKLASSON, K. 1991. Early prehistoric burials in ves on southwest Asia in light of recent discoveries on
Cyprus. Jonsered: Paul Aströms Förlag (Studies in Cyprus: 1-14. Oxford: Oxbow Books (Levant Supple-
Mediterranean Archaeology 96). mentary Series I).


STANLEY PRICE, N.P. & D. CHRISTOU. 1973. TODD, I.A. 1987. Vasilikos Valley project 6: Excava-
Excavations at Khirokitia, 1972. Report of the tions at Kalavasos-Tenta, volume I. Jonsered: Paul
Department of Antiquities, Cyprus: 1-33. Aströms Förlag (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeo-
STUART MACADAM, P.L. 1992. Porotic hyperostosis: logy 71/6).
a new perspective. American Journal of Physical TODD, I.A. 2003. Kalavasos-Tenta: A reappraisal, in J.
Anthropology 87: 39-47. Guilaine & A. Le Brun (ed.) Le Néolithique de
TARAMIDIS, G. 1983. Tα δόντια των Κυπρίων της Chypre: 35-44. Athènes and Paris: École Française
νεολιθικής εποχής (5800-3000 π.Χ.). Οδοντοστοματο- d’Athènes (Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique,
λογικη προοδος 37: 213-218. supplément 43).
TILLIER, A.M. & H. DUDAY 1990. Les enfants morts UBELAKER, D.H. 1978. Human skeletal remains.
en période périnatale, in É. Crubézy, H. Duday, P. Washington: Taraxacum.
Sellier & A.M. Tillier (ed.) Anthropologie et archéo- WAPLER, U., É. CRUBÉZY & M. SCHULTZ 2004. Is
logie: dialogue sur les ensembles funéraires. Bulletins Cribra Orbitalia synonymous with anemia? Analysis
et Mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, and interpretation of cranial pathology in Sudan. Ame-
n. s., 2, 3-4: 89-98. rican Journal of Physical Anthropology 123: 333-339.

Malcolm C. LILLIE
University of Hull, UK,

Abstract: The ‘visibility’ of children in prehistoric archaeological contexts has been addressed in some detail in recent studies of the
past. Reasons behind the apparent absence of children in the archaeological record have been variously attributed to gender issues
and a general disregard for the potential multiple gendering of individuals in the past, differential burial and preservation, a lack of
understanding of past social structures and the mistaken belief that children cannot become significant social individuals, amongst
This paper reviews some of these issues in relation to a range of sites from Europe, and with a focus on research from the cemetery
populations of the Dnieper Rapids region of Ukraine. This region has evidence to suggest that in areas where hunter-fisher-gatherer
lifeways are based on robust resources, such as existed in the riparian zone of the Dnieper River from the Epipalaeolithic through to
Copper Age, children could be integrated into socials structures from an early age. The review highlights some of the key aspects of
Mesolithic and Neolithic burial practices and assesses the available evidence in light of changing perspectives on prehistoric ritual
articulation and the role of children in the past.
Key words: Dnieper River, Ukraine, Mesolithic, Neolithic, burial practices, children

Résume: La “visibilité” d’enfants dans des contextes archéologiques préhistoriques a été adressée de manière assez détaillée dans
de récentes études du passé. Les raisons pour l’absence apparente des enfants dans le dossier archéologique ont été attribuées, à
tour de rôle, aux questions de genre et à une négligence générale pour la différenciation potentielle par sexe multiple des individus
dans le passé. A quoi s’ajoutent les différences d'enterrement et de conservation, un manque d’arrangement des structures sociales
passées et la croyance erronée que les enfants ne peuvent pas devenir des individus sociaux significatifs, entre autres.
Cet article passe en revue certaines de ces questions par rapport à une gamme d’emplacements de l’Europe, en se concentrant sur la
recherche des populations de cimetière de la région du Dniepr en Ukraine. Cette région a l’évidence pour suggérer que dans les
secteurs où les modes de vie du chasseur-pêcheur-ramasseur sont basés sur des ressources robustes, telles existaient dans la zone
riveraine du Dniepr de l’âge Épipaléolithique jusqu’à l’âge de cuivre, des enfants pourraient être intégrés dans des structures
sociales d’un âge jeune. La revue accentue certains des aspects principaux de pratiques funéraires mésolithiques et néolithiques et
évalue l’évidence disponible à la lumière des perspectives changeantes sur l’articulation rituelle préhistorique et le rôle des enfants
dans le passé.
Mots Clefs: Dniepr, Ukraine, Mésolithique, Néolithique, pratiques funéraires, enfants

INTRODUCTION particular significance to northwest European researchers

in regions where stable isotope evidence supports the idea
As the papers in the current volume highlight, children in that exploitation of marine resources in the Mesolithic
prehistory can be very visible, and they were often was significant, and therefore settlement/activity sites
afforded burial and ritual articulations that stand out in the would potentially have been located in areas that are now
archaeological record. Conversely, the ‘visibility’ of child submerged (e.g. Schulting & Richards 2001).
burials can be extremely sparse and difficult to assess due
to factors such as preservation and ritual biases. This Differential treatment in death is attested at numerous
paper will review some examples from the literature, and locations in Europe (and elsewhere). Evidence from
consider the evidence from the cemeteries of the Dnieper locations such as Vedbæk (Brinch Peterson & Meiklejohn
Rapids region of Ukraine (Fig. 4.1) in detail, in an attempt 2003) indicates that combinations of ritual treatment
to highlight some of the practices occurring in Mesolithic occur. Here, multiple burials of a male and female with a
and Neolithic burial contexts. young teenager, a 5 year old chid and an infant <1 year of
age all buried in a pit at Gøngehusvey 7 contrast with a
Previous studies into the interpretation of children in the single inhumation of a child at the site of Maglemose-
archaeological record have highlighted a considerable gaard. At Tågerup, Scania, Sweden (Ahlström 2003) the
array of processes in the disposal/burial of children in human remains found in burial pits were recorded as
prehistory. However, it should be remembered that adult fragile and extremely fragmented, but despite this two
individuals are also treated differentially in death for non-adult burials aged 6-7 years (grave 3) and 9-10 years
various reasons (e.g. Ahlström 2003; Bonsall 1997; (grave 6) respectively, were identified. At this site,
Brinch Peterson & Meiklejohn 2003; Eriksson et al. 2003; differential treatment is again attested by the occurrence
Larsson et al. 1981; Lillie 1996, 1997 & 1998a; Schulting of fragments of a non-adult skeleton in a semi-flexed
2003). In certain instances the reasons for a lack of position located some distance from the rest of the main
visibility of cemeteries are attributed, in part, to rising sea grave group. This individual was aged at c. 9-10 years at
levels obscuring a significant part of the archaeological death and was found with a transverse arrowhead in the
record (e.g. Larsson et al. 1981). This factor is of vicinity of the pelvis region. The author suggests that this


Fig. 4.1. Location map for the cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region: 1 Osipovka;
2 Derievka I and II; 3 Vasilyevka V; 4 Vasilyevka III and II; 5 Nikolskoye; 6 Marievka; 7 Vovnigi II;
8 Yasinovatka; 9 Igren VIII (Filled Triangle = Mesolithic, Open Triangle = Neolithic)

find may indicate that the cause of death was violent in Interestingly, the evidence from Skateholm, in southern
this particular case (Ahlström 2003, 480). Scania, and Vedbæk in eastern Zeeland, Denmark
(Nilsson 2003) highlights yet another aspect of Mesolithic
Burial context clearly influences preservation, as finds burial practice, that of cremation. As noted by Nilsson,
from the Mesolithic site of Ageröd I:HC attest (Larsson et cremation represents an extreme contrast to inhumation as
al. 1981). At this location a series of summer camp the latter involves burying the dead intact, while
occupations produced fragmentary human remains (5 cremation rapidly destroys the body (2003, 531). Either
pieces – 4 during excavations between 1946-9 and 1 way, both practices serve to remove the body from view
during excavations between 1972-4). The skeletal mate- and thus they avoid the need for the living to watch the
rial recovered appears to have been derived from process of decomposition (Nilsson 2003, 531). Despite
individuals of late adolescent or adult age. this observation, grave 28 at Skateholm has evidence to
support the notion that access to the body was facilitated
Despite the fragmented nature of the remains Larsson et after burial, and after decomposition, as bones from the
al. identified an unhealed septal aperture at the point of left side of the skeleton were removed, but adjacent
insertion of the musculus deltoideus in the distal epiphysis elements remained in place and undisturbed (Nilsson
of a right humerus; this resulted from an injury, and there 2003, 531). This observation could help account for the
is also some evidence for osteoporosis on this skeletal presence of disarticulated skeletal elements at settlement
element. Some light osteophytic lipping was also noted on sites, and Nilsson goes so far as to suggest that the
the proximal portion of an adult male’s left ulna. The practices played out at Skateholm may inform us about
extremely fragmentary nature of this material clearly the Neolithic period, wherein the manipulation of human
reflects disposal of human remains in a manner other than remains is a dominant aspect of mortuary rituals (Nilsson
ritual primary burial, and in this paper (dated to 1981) a 2003, 532).
minimum number of 22 sites with fragmentary human
remains were identified for the Scandinavian Mesolithic. The analysis of stable isotopes and diet can also provide
Obviously, the evidence indicates that primary burial was significant insights into past social structuring in society.
not extended to all individuals in society, or alternatively In this context recent research by Shulting (2003) has
that the burial ritual employed resulted in some provided some intriguing observations on the populations
destruction and loss of elements prior to burial (Larsson et buried at the Mesolithic sites of Hoëdic and Teviec in
al. 1981, 166). southern Brittany. At these sites a number of the graves


have multiple interments indicative of successive phases Perhaps informative in terms of the visibility of children
of burial. Shulting argues that this phenomenon is in cemetery populations are the cemeteries of the northern
reminiscent of subsequent Neolithic activity, and may zone, such as Olenii Ostrov in Karelia (Jacobs 1995) and
suggest that these burial traditions are in fact direct Zvejnieki in northern Latvia (Gerhard et al. 2003).
precursors to Neolithic practices (2003, 432). Visibility is enhanced in the latter case by the long
duration of the burial practices occurring at Zvejnieki.
At these cemeteries Hoëdic has 14 individuals in eviden- Here, the burial rituals employed display equivalent
ce, with 2 non-adults, and Teviec has 23 individuals, with treatment in death for males, females and non-adults. At
3 non-adults in evidence. The children (all between this site ochre, a range of artefacts, burial orientations and
neonate and 4 years of age) all exhibit elevated nitrogen types, and stone settings, are afforded to all of the
values when compared to the young adult females in these individuals being buried. Zvejnieki is informative due to
populations. This is attributed to the fact that the non- the number of non-adult burials interred, with half of
adults are being breastfed, and as such exhibit a c. 3‰ the Mesolithic burials belonging to non-adults, and two-
δ15N trophic level increase when compared to the young thirds of these including grave goods (Gerhard et al.
adult female C/N ratios. This increase reflects the fact that 2003, 559).
the children are effectively predating on their mothers. It
is apparent from the isotope signatures of the individuals Isotope studies at Zvejnieki have shown that the highest
studied by Schulting, that the adult males and mature nitrogen value in the interred Mesolithic burials is
adult females have elevated C/N ratios when compared to associated with a child burial (burial 261), who has a δ15N
the young adult females. However, it is perhaps worth value of 15.2‰ (Eriksson et al. 2003). As was observed
mentioning that contrary to the suggestion that this previously with the Hoëdic and Teviec isotope studies
indicates differential diets (Schulting 2003, 434), with (Shulting 2003), the elevated nitrogen values are
young females not consuming a diet with as much marine considered to reflect trophic level enrichment due to
input as the adult males and mature adult females (and by breastfeeding. In general the Mesolithic and earlier
inference not originating in the local population) the Neolithic populations at Zvejnieki had substantially
evidence could also suggest that breastfeeding is resulting higher intakes of freshwater fish to their counterparts in
in a suppression of the C/N ratios for the young adult later periods, where more variable diets are in evidence
females. from the Middle Neolithic period onwards (Shulting
2003, 14).
Breastfeeding functions because nutrients are transferred
to the child from the mother. Unless the mature adult At Zvejnieki, the fact that children and juveniles were
females are acting as ‘wet nurses’ in these populations it identified as significant in burial clearly suggests that they
would be unlikely that their C/N ratios would be were considered important social individuals in life. The
suppressed in this way, hence their ‘normal’ dietary idea that non-adult individuals in hunter-fisher-gatherer
signatures at the population level of expression. The societies can achieve recognition as significant ‘social
children are unlikely to express an ‘ideal’ trophic level actors’ has been put forward previously (e.g. Lillie
increase relevant to the population based expression of 1998a), and may well reflect the fact that non-adults are
C/N ratios (i.e. the adult males and mature females), able to fish and gather from an early age in societies that
precisely because they remove the mothers nutrients at the exploit the rich resources of the riparian and coastal zones
systemic level. The Hoëdic and Teviec cemeteries are of Europe.
extremely interesting due to the myriad of possible
interpretations of the available data (cf. Schulting & Of particular interest in the studies of Zvejnieki is the
Richards 2001), and the potential identification of long observation that even where non-adult remains are
overlaps between the Mesolithic and Neolithic of the lacking, some insights into childhood diets can be
region. recovered from the study of the isotope signatures of the
molars (Eriksson et al. 2003). If this approach is viable,
The differences between males/mature females and young then given the developmental sequence of the molars, it is
adult females highlights an important interpretational conceivable that a sequence of diet at c. 6 year intervals
aspect when studying populations where non-adult up to completion of the formation of the third molars
remains are lacking, in that the young adult females could could be obtained. In addition, if the individual is interred
conceivably express lower C/N ratios because they were at any time up to c. 30 years of age, the isotope signature
breastfeeding either at or immediately prior to death. If from the bone would provide a record of the diet between
non-adult isotope studies are not available, this factor is c. 20-30 years of age. Although it is unlikely that the first
effectively ‘invisible’ in dietary terms. The isotope ratios to third molars would be available for study from
from young adult females then, if influenced by Mesolithic and Early Neolithic individuals in significant
breastfeeding, could consequently lead to a mistaken numbers, such a study would provide unparalleled in-
assumption that the young adult females in a given sights into dietary practices/changes across an indivi-
population were consuming divergent diets to those of dual’s earlier life, and could conceivably shed light on
other members in the community being studied, simply significant factors such as the movement of individuals
because we don’t ‘see’ the children. between different groups.


A REVIEW OF THE CEMETERIES OF THE In light of recent studies outlining the range of plant
DNIEPER RAPIDS REGION species available to Mesolithic populations, and by
extension, to the populations of the Dnieper Rapids
The cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region have been region, Lillie (2003a & b) sought to assess the degree to
the subject of considerable re-dating, re-analysis and which we are able to determine the composition of
isotope studies in recent years. This has been carried out prehistoric diets (Lillie 2003a) using a combination of
both by the current author, and by colleagues such as archaeological and ethnographic analogies.
Mike Richards, Ken Jacobs, Dmitri Telegin and Inna
Potekhina, amongst others (e.g. Jacobs 1993 & 1994; In general a number of key observations were forth-
Lillie 1996, 1997, 1998a & b; Lillie & Richards 2000; coming from these analyses. This included the observa-
Lillie et al. 2003; Lillie & Jacobs 2006; Telegin et al. tion that caries was universally absent from all of the
2002; Telegin 2003), since Telegin’s early work (1961, cemeteries studied between c. 11.000-4500 cal BC,
1968 & 1982). These cemeteries are considered to be implying a diet lacking in caries potentiating foodstuffs,
‘true’ cemeteries as they are often situated away from whilst calculus deposits occur throughout the cemetery
any substantial settlement evidence, and function solely series, reflecting the consumption of dietary proteins.
for the rituals involved in the removal of the dead from Archaeological evidence supports the notion that fishing
society (Haussler 1995; Lillie 1996, 1997 & 2003a, 60; formed an integral element of prehistoric diets with a
Telegin & Potekhina 1987, 148). Despite the con- range of fishing related artefacts occurring. These include
siderable number of burials in the Mesolithic and fish-tooth necklaces, which are found as grave goods at a
Neolithic cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region, number of the earlier Neolithic sites, and fish hooks, net
variable preservation occurred, and curation practices sinkers and harpoons at other archaeological sites
have led to an emphasis on the cranial part of the (Telegin & Potekhina 1987).
skeleton, and a general absence of non-adults burials in
collections. Despite this, the detailed excavation Interestingly, in the Volga Basin (Zhilin 2006) c. 60
archives produced by Telegin and Dobrovolsky, enables Mesolithic and Neolithic sites have been identified in
considerable insights into non-adult treatment in death, wetland contexts, and twelve of these have been
and by inference, their role in socio-cultural structures in excavated. The material culture of the Mesolithic sites
life. includes extensive finds of organic artefacts including, at
the site of Ozerki 17, complete fishing hooks with the line
In two recent papers (Lillie 2003a & b) the nature of the attached, pine fishtraps, and fragments of fishing nets and
subsistence strategies of the populations of the Dnieper pine bark floats. In association were a series of net sinkers
Rapids were considered in relation to new research, a which included large pebbles with lime bark or bog grass
review of the evidence from excavations and the stable bindings, and sharpened stakes still in situ in the shallow
isotope studies undertaken by Lillie and Richards (Lillie water deposits adjacent to Mesolithic and Neolithic sites
& Richards 2000; Lillie et al. 2003; Lillie & Jacobs (Zhilin 2006, 66). These are interpreted as stakes for
2006). This work outlined the limitations imposed on our securing nets and fish traps. The fishing related artefacts
research by the fragmentary nature of the archaeological recovered from the wetland sites in the Volga Basin
record, the ephemeral nature of hunter-fisher-gatherer highlight just how fragmentary the evidence is from the
sites, and the inherent difficulties experienced when ‘dry’ contexts in the Dnieper Rapids, and other European
attempting to reconstruct past dietary pathways (Lillie regions.
2003b, 1).
Despite the gaps in the evidence, the isotope signatures
When considering the possible range of dietary compo- obtained from the populations in the Mesolithic and
nents available to hunter-fisher-gatherer populations, Neolithic periods does support the notion that fish made
alongside the work of Zvelebil (1994), research by up a proportion of Mesolithic and Neolithic diet (Figs. 4.2
Pallarés and Mora (1999) on Mesolithic sites from the and 4.3). Isotope analysis allows for a direct assessment
eastern Pyrenees and Perry (1999) on Mesolithic sites in of prehistoric dietary pathways and protein source,
the northern Netherlands have highlighted just how particularly in the last 10 years of the individual’s life
diverse the range of species being exploited could be. The (Schwarcz & Schoeninger 1991). As such, this enables a
presence of numerous grinding stones attests to the consideration of the relative dietary dependence of the
processing of plant resources, which is also supported by individual through comparison of the δ13C and δ15N ratios
the evidence from lithic microwear analysis (Pallarés & in evidence (cf. McGovern-Wilson & Quinn 1996).
Mora 1999, 67), and these insights may provide a further
link to the subsequent adoption of domesticated plant The isotope results presented in Figure 4.2 have been
species by the later Mesolithic populations of Europe. interpreted as representing a relatively uniform diet, for
Ethnographic studies have shown that alongside con- many of the cemeteries in the later Mesolithic and
sumption, many of the species attested at Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (Lillie & Richards 2000). Figure 4.3
earlier Neolithic sites in Europe had other uses in shows that individuals from the Mesolithic cemetery of
medicine and construction (e.g. Perry 1999, 234; Nicholas Vasilyevka II (Lillie & Jacobs 2006), dated to c. 7300-
1991, 2006a, 51-3 & 2006b). 6200 cal. BC, exhibit values for δ13C that cluster between






Vasilyevka V

-24 -23 -22 -21 -20 -19 -18 -17 -16 -15 -14

Fig. 4.2. Mesolithic and Neolithic isotope ratios for the Dnieper Rapids cemeteries (after Lillie & Richards 2000)








11 Males

-23 -22,8 -22,6 -22,4 -22,2 -22 -21,8 -21,6 -21,4 -21,2 -21

Fig. 4.3. Vasilyevka II isotopes ratios (after Lillie & Jacobs 2006)

–20.5 and –21.5‰, with δ15N values of c. 12.5-14.0‰ on Vasilyevka II are more positive than evidenced elsewhere
average. These values have δ13C levels that are more on the Dnieper, they are somewhat consistent with those
positive than both the Epipalaeolithic (Vasilyevka III: from the Danubian Iron Gates sites of Vlasac, Lepenski
Lillie et al. 2003) and the contemporary samples for the Vir and Schela Cladovei, as reported by Bonsall et al.
late Mesolithic site of Marievka and the early Neolithic (1997). This evidence indicates that the Vasilyevka II
sites (Fig. 4.2). Intriguingly, whilst the δ13C ratios from δ13C ratios are slightly more negative than those from the


Fig. 4.4. The Nenasytets cemetery (after Telegin & Potekhina 1987, Fig. 1.2)

Danubian Iron Gates sites, while the associated δ15N fish, an r-selected species that provides a measure of
ratios are towards the lower end of the range from Vlasac. reliability in terms of resource base, were consumed. The
Vasilyevka II reinforces the notion that variability occurs emphasis on reliable resources may provide some insights
in isotope levels both at the intra population level and into the mechanisms whereby non-adult individuals
across the inter population range. The humans from achieved a measure of status in life, where, as mentioned
Vasilyevka II would suggest that C3 plant foods above, they were able to fish and gather along the riparian
contributed a significant proportion of the diet of these zone, thereby actively contributing to the economic
populations, but that freshwater fish were also an integral activities of the group.
element of the diet (Lillie 2003b).
The fact that some level of status is afforded to non-adult
The Mesolithic and Neolithic values presented in Figure individuals is reinforced by the cemetery evidence (see
4.2 are more varied, with a number of samples having Telegin & Potekhina 1987 for a detailed overview). Non-
δ13C values that are between –22 ‰ and –24 ‰, which is adult burials occur throughout the cemetery series, and in
more negative than one would expect for a purely certain instances vivid insights into burial ritual are
terrestrial C3 diet (c. –20 ‰ to -21‰). These values are forthcoming. At the cemetery located at the Nenasytets
again indicative of the addition of aquatic resources, most rapids (Bodyansky 1951) 9 burials comprising 4 adults
likely river fish, to the diets (Lillie 2003b). This and 5 children were uncovered during excavations in
interpretation is supported by the associated higher δ15N 1948 (Telegin & Potekhina 1987, 5). At this site (Fig. 4.4)
values for these individuals, and reinforced by the all of the burials were uncovered in the extended supine
archaeological evidence for fishing related equipment. position. Where multiple interment occurs, the deceased
are buried with their heads at opposite ends to each other
(e.g. individuals 4 and 5, and individuals 6-8, Fig. 4.4).
Variation is in evidence, with two of the Neolithic
samples studied, Der 33 (Dereivka cemetery) and Vas 29 At this cemetery 6 of the deceased had ochre in
(Vasilyevka V), have collagen δ13C and δ15N values that association and 8 of the nine individuals had associated
probably do not indicate any significant amounts of river grave goods. Whilst one of the adult burials (Grave 3) had
fish in the diets. Again, further interpretation is difficult a considerable quantity of associated artefacts, such as
without associated faunal isotope values, but the high 150 annular (limestone?) beads and 55 pendants of
δ15N values are indicative of diets with significant immature deer teeth, with Unio shells and a retouched
amounts of animal, rather than plant, protein in them. flint flake in association, similar finds accompanied the
other burials in this cemetery, and the non-adult burials 4,
The isotope studies undertaken to date support the notion 8 and 9 all had associated grave goods. In addition burial
that variation occurs in relation to the dietary components 2 had a scraper in association whilst burial 8 had a flint
of the populations of the Dnieper Rapids region, and that knife in close proximity (both of these are non-adult


burials) (Telegin & Potekhina 1987, 5). Whilst undated in had a number of elements missing from the burial pit.
absolute terms the artefact inventory at Nenasytets led Secondary burial is also attested in grave pit 53, where the
Telegin to assign this cemetery to his earlier phase A2, partial remains of 6 adults, 1 adolescent and 4 children
immediately after Marievka and slightly earlier than were identified, and where burnt bones are also included
Yasinovatka stage A burials. This would suggest an age in in the burial deposit (Telegin & Potekhina 1987, 47).
the region of between c. 6200 cal BC (the end date for Osipovka is aceramic and seems to include burials from
Marievka) and c. 5476-5271 cal BC (the earliest dates for the Mesolithic through to earlier Neolithic periods.
Yasinovatka), i.e. Nenasytets is either a late Mesolithic or Telegin and Potekhina identify Osipovka as a distinctive
transitional Mesolithic-Neolithic site. The evidence would monument in the Dnieper valley due to the rite of
support the notion that adolescents and children were secondary burial and the disorganised nature of the
fully integrated into society at an early age, and that in individual burials, which in other cemeteries of this
death at least they are identified as significant to society. region are systematically arranged in rows. It is possible
that the individuals interred at Osipovka represent an
Differential treatment of individuals in death is evidenced intrusive group in the later Mesolithic at the Dnieper
by cemeteries such as Vovnigi II, which has only 30 of Rapids.
the total 130 burials having associated grave goods, and
91 of these individuals being sprinkled with ochre Two of the larger cemeteries in the Dnieper Rapids
(Telegin & Potekhina 1987). At Osipovka (which has region, Nikolskoye and Yasinovatka, have 137 burials
dates ranging between 6600 and 5300/4780 cal BC) (with 80 adults, 13 adolescents, and 9 children), and 68
individual, paired and collective burial pits are in individuals (with 51 adults, 4 adolescents, and 9 children)
evidence, and a total of 67 burials were unearthed. A respectively. Non-adults are clearly under-represented at
paired burial of an adult and child is directly dated to c. both of these sites, as are females (Lillie 1997, 220). It
6600-6370 cal BC. In this cemetery individual burials are should be noted that some problems obviously exist when
again in the extended supine position, and a single child attempting to assess social differentiation at these
burial (Fig. 4.5) had c. 200 Cyprinidae (carp) teeth in cemeteries as the grave goods often comprise hunting-
association, the only other grave good found at this fishing derived material such as deer tooth pendants and
cemetery consisted of a worked bone artefact found in Cyprinidae (carp) teeth. However, despite this observa-
collective grave pit (no. 53). tion, it must be assumed that the inclusion of grave goods
in non-adult burial contexts can indicate some level of
social significance.

At Yasinovatka, whilst burials comprising adults and non-

adults occur in a number of instances, a grave pit located
beneath cairn III at this cemetery contained 3 child
burials. Two of these were represented by skulls, while
the third comprised an articulated skeleton in a good state
of preservation. This individual lay in the extended supine
position (mirroring adult burials) and associated grave
goods included a string of white annular beads near the
right shoulder and Cyprinidae teeth below the pelvic
bones (Lillie 1997, 221). This child was afforded burial in
exactly the same style as the adults at this cemetery, and it
was noted by Lillie (1997, 221) that the discovery of a
non-adult with grave goods provides an important insight
into the articulation of burial ritual at a site where child
burials (not associated with and adult) are rare. The phase
b-1 burials at Yasinovatka exhibit a considerable degree
of disturbance due to re-cutting of graves, and only a
single example of an undisturbed burial exists (burial 45),
which is dated to 5432-5148 cal BC. This suggests that
the second stage burials at Yasinovatka are disturbed by
later activity, perhaps indicating that no form of grave
Fig. 4.5. Osipovka child burial (individual marker was employed to identify the earlier interments, or
no. 28). This individual was buried with c. that less significance is placed on the earlier burials in this
200 Cyprinidae (Carp) teeth in association b-stage of the cemetery’s use.
(after Telegin & Potekhina 1987, Fig. 22.4)
Finally, when ‘visualising’ children in the archaeological
record, in addition to the use of isotopes from adult
Osipovka has evidence for secondary burials in pit no. 31, molars (or other early forming teeth), it is worth remem-
where the disarticulated remains of 7 adults and a child bering that other indicators of juvenile systemic stressors


occur in the form of enamel hypoplasias. In the Dnieper after burial and decomposition occurs in the case of burial
Rapids cemeteries, the incidence of these non-specific 28 at Skateholm I.
indicators of childhood systemic stress occur at low levels
on the dentitions of adult individuals from both periods. This observation could help account for the presence of
For the Mesolithic period 820 teeth are preserved, of these disarticulated skeletal elements at settlement sites, and
12 (1.46%) exhibit hypoplasias, whilst in the Neolithic Nilsson goes so far as to suggest that the practices played
period 33 of the 1464 teeth preserved exhibit hypoplasias out at Skateholm may inform use about the Neolithic
(2.25%). These are represented on the individual level by period wherein the manipulation of human remains is a
six individuals in the Mesolithic period (13.8%) and dominant aspect of mortuary rituals (2003, 532). Simi-
twelve individuals in the Neolithic period (11.5%). larly, Shulting argues that this phenomenon is reminiscent
of subsequent Neolithic activities, and may suggest that
The distribution of hypoplasias between both males and these practices are precursors to later Neolithic rituals
females in the Dnieper Rapids cemeteries indicates (2003, 432). These studies would imply that Neolithic
generalised systemic stress during childhood, between the collective burials and the removal/re-use of skeletal
ages of 2.0-6.0 years (Goodman & Rose 1991; Smith elements in ritual contexts away from the primary burial
1991), with 71.74% of occurrences between 2-4 years, context are effectively continuities in ritual practice from
and 28.26% between 4-6 years. This distribution con- the Mesolithic.
forms to that highlighted by Goodman and Armelagos
(1985, 486-7), whereby in general, weaning stress is By implication, Schulting’s research may also indicate
thought to occur between 1-4 years of age, with varia- that where non-adult remains are lacking, young adult
bility being population specific in nature. females could conceivably express lower C/N ratios
because they were breastfeeding either at or immediately
As mentioned above, enamel hypoplasias are non-specific prior to death. As non-adults are not always represented in
indicators of stress, and may be the result of a number of mortuary contexts, if non-adult isotope studies are not
factors such as local trauma, hereditary conditions, feasible/available, this factor is effectively ‘invisible’ in
nutritional deficiencies, infectious diseases and metabolic dietary terms. The young adult females isotope ratios
disruptions (Huss-Ashmore et al. 1982; Goodman et al. could consequently lead to a mistaken assumption that the
1984; Goodman & Armelagos 1985; Moggi-Cecchi young adult females were consuming divergent diets to
1994). However, of the several developmental dental those of other members in the community being studied,
defects that may be related to general and nutritional simply because we don’t ‘see’ the children.
stress, macroscopic enamel hypoplasia appears to be one
of the more valid and reliable indicators (Huss-Ashmore Differential isotope signatures are recorded throughout
et al. 1982), which in the case of the Dnieper Rapids the European Mesolithic/hunter-fisher-gatherer skeletal
cemeteries, suggests that weaning stress occurs. This series, but in general, the identification of differential diet
reinforces the fact that breastfeeding is occurring at these cannot be used to infer inequality in terms of total dietary
sites and that some variation in young adult female calorific values or that these differences are entirely
isotope ratios may be anticipated as a result. culturally imposed. Similarly, the use of plants is apparent
(e.g. Zvelebil 1994; Pallarés & Mora 1999; Perry 1999),
but we cannot assess the relative contribution that plants
DISCUSSION made to the diet, and we also cannot gauge at what age
children could have been integrated into the resource
The above discussion has highlighted numerous aspects procurement strategies of forager groups. However, the
of non-adult burial and the ritual treatment involved in the identification of childhood stress episodes using hypo-
removal of these individuals from society. We have plasias, and by inference dietary shifts away from
obviously expanded our knowledge base when inter- breastfeeding, provide some insights into the possible age
preting non-adult individuals, and a lot of work has been ranges at which children could have begun to participate
undertaken in the past decade to make the ‘invisible in resource procurement in different groups is a way into
people’ visible (cf. Moore & Scott 1997). Women are no this area of study.
longer ignored in favour of males when interpreting
hunter-fisher-gatherer societies and non-adults individuals Lillie (1998a, 2003a & b) has argued that the variability
are ‘becoming’ more visible as the dominant discourse identified through isotopic studies reinforces the notion
attempts to provide the basis for an holistic social that differential access to proteins of animal, fish, and/or
narrative of the Mesolithic. plant derivation, and the mediation of such access, occurs,
but that this does not necessarily result in a reduction in
Our understanding of burial ritual is more robust as the health status, especially in the case of the individuals from
methods and theories we use become more refined and the Dnieper Rapids cemeteries.
targeted (e.g. Nilsson 2003). The use of detailed studies of
taphonomic processes has shown that some significant The early integration of children into the social context
insights can be gleaned from the archaeological record. may reflect a number of factors relating to the societies
Nilsson has noted that the removal of skeletal elements considered. In general group mobility, economic stress,


workloads, and the regulation of family size are cited discrete part of society that was fundamental to group
amongst the reasons for the lack of consideration afforded survival, and we can (with relative ease) identify non-
to young children in a wide range of societies from adult individuals who clearly functioned as meaningful
prehistoric hunter-gatherers to the modern period (cf. and significant social individuals.
Mays 1995). Within the Dnieper Rapids region the
exploitation of a rich resource spectrum (hunting-fishing-
gathering) may have enabled younger children to play an Acknowledgments
active part in subsistence tasks from a relatively low age,
and as a consequence these individuals are perceived as The author would like to thank Krum Bacvarov for his
having a recognised social persona in death. invitation to produce this review paper. The interpretation
and discussion of the isotope results owes much to the
This suggestion is reinforced by the fact that children in a work of Mike Richards who has worked with the author
number of the Ukrainian cemeteries are afforded burial on all of the data presented here. The samples of human
that is identical to that given to adults, that many non- bone, used for the analyses of Vasilyevka II, were
adult individuals have grave goods (often in significant obtained by Ken Jacobs during research in St. Petersburg,
quantities as noted at Osipovka), and ochre is used in the Russia; all other samples were obtained by Malcolm Lillie
burial rituals. Similarly, we have evidence for differential and processed by Mike Richards. The palaeopathological
treatment in death with some individuals being buried analysis was undertaken during the author’s doctoral
without grave goods, suggesting some level of horizontal research which was funded by the SERC (now NERC).
stratification, however the inclusion/non-inclusion of The author would like to thank Professor Gokhman and
grave goods is not restricted to discrete groups, but is Dr. Alexander Kozintsev, Museum of Anthropology and
applied throughout age/gender categories. At Osipovka Ethnography, and Professor Vladimir Timofeev, Depart-
secondary burial occurs, and this is reminiscent of ment of Palaeolithic Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia and
Scandinavian Mesolithic practices wherein a minimum Professor Dmitri Telegin and Dr. Inna Potekhina,
number of 22 sites with fragmentary human remains have Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev, for invaluable
been identified. Larsson et al. (1981, 166) have argued assistance during my research visits to Eastern Europe. As
that this evidence indicates that primary burial was not ever, any errors and/or omissions remain the response-
extended to all individuals in society, or alternatively that bility of the author.
the burial ritual employed resulted in some destruction
and loss of elements prior to burial. Again this represents Finally, since commencing my work in Ukraine, both Ken
an aspect of Mesolithic ritual that is visible from Jacobs and Vladimir Timofeev have died unexpectedly,
Scandinavia to Ukraine, and is a ritual activity that is similarly my mother and sister died suddenly between
transposed into Neolithic burial practices. October 2004 and April 2005, these losses have impacted
differentially on me, but all of these individuals have
Clearly, some significant limitations are imposed on our influenced my research and life in various ways, each is
research by the fragmentary nature of the archaeological sorely missed.
record, the ephemeral nature of hunter-fisher-gatherer
sites, and the inherent difficulties experienced when
attempting to reconstruct past dietary pathways (Lillie
2003). However, as the above discussion has shown, the
techniques used in interpreting Mesolithic and hunter-
AHLSTRÖM, T. 2003. Mesolithic human remains from
fisher-gatherer societies (the latter subsistence strategies
Tågerp, Scania, Sweden, in Larsson, L., H. Kindgren ,
characterise earlier Neolithic groups in the Dnieper
K. Knutsson, D. Loeffler & A. Åkerlund (eds.)
Rapids region) have provided considerable insights into
Mesolithic on the Move: Papers presented at the Sixth
non-adults in these societies. The above discussion has
International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe,
also suggested that in certain instances, the lack of non-
Stockholm 2000: 478-84. Oxford: Oxbow.
adult burials does not preclude the generation of some
important observations relating to childhood stress (e.g. BONSALL, C., R. LENNON, K. MCSWEENEY, C.
enamel hypoplasias) or diet (e.g. isotope studies of teeth). STEWART, D. HARKNESS, V. BORONEANT, L.
Similarly, by inference we can suggest that young adult BARTOSIEWICZ, R. PAYTON & J. CHAPMAN
female isotope ratios can be biased by weaning practices 1997. Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Iron
(which again can be inferred from the age distribution of Gates: a palaeodietary perspective. Journal of Euro-
the enamel hypoplasias on adult teeth), which provides an pean Archaeology 5/1: 50-92.
insight into childhood subsistence and possibly the age at BRINCH PETERSON, E. & C. MEIKLEJOHN 2003.
which children begin to function as ‘social actors’. Three cremations and a funeral: aspects of burial
practice in Mesolithic Vedbæk, in Larsson, L., H.
Biases exist, but when we actually attempt to ‘visualise’ Kindgren, K. Knutsson, D. Loeffler & A. Åkerlund
children in hunter-fisher-gatherer contexts the above (eds.) Mesolithic on the Move: Papers presented at
discussion has shown that a considerable corpus of the Sixth International Conference on the Mesolithic
evidence exists. We can draw meaningful insights into a in Europe, Stockholm 2000: 485-93. Oxford: Oxbow.


BODYANSKY, O.V. 1951. Неолiтичний могильник LILLIE, M.C. 1998a. The Dnieper Rapids region of
бiля ненаситецького порога. Археологiя 5: 163-72. Ukraine: a consideration of chronology, dental
ERIKSSON, G., L. LÕUGAS, & I. ZAGORSKA 2003. pathology and diet at the Mesolithic-Neolithic
Stone age hunter-fisher-gatherers at Zvejnieki, transition. Sheffield University: Unpublished PhD
northern Latvia: radiocarbon, stable isotope and thesis.
archaeozoology data. Before Farming 2003/1 (2): 1- LILLIE, M.C. 1998b. The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
25. in Ukraine: new radiocarbon determinations for the
GERHARD, G., G. ZARIŅA & I. ZAGORSKA 2003. cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region. Antiquity 72:
Burial traditions in the East Baltic Mesolithic, in 184-88.
Larsson, L., H. Kindgren , K. Knutsson, D. Loeffler & LILLIE, M.C. 2003a. The Fruit and Nut Case: hunter
A. Åkerlund (eds.) Mesolithic on the Move: Papers gatherer subsistence and egalitarianism in the riparian
presented at the Sixth International Conference on the zone, in Bevan, L. & J. Moore (eds.) Peopling the
Mesolithic in Europe, Stockholm 2000: 558-62. Mesolithic in a Northern Environment: 59-68.
Oxford: Oxbow. Archaeopress: B.A.R. International Series 1157.
GOODMAN, A.H., & G.J. ARMELAGOS 1985. Factors LILLIE, M.C. 2003b. Tasting the Forbidden Fruit: gender
Affecting the Distribution of enamel hypoplasias based dietary differences among prehistoric hunter-
within the Permanent Dentition. American Journal of gatherers of Eastern Europe? Before Farming 2/3: 1-
Physical Anthropology 68: 479-93. 16.
GOODMAN, A.H. & J.C. ROSE 1991. Dental Enamel LILLIE, M.C. & M.P. RICHARDS 2000. Stable Isotope
Hypoplasias as Indicators of Nutritional Status, in Analysis and Dental Evidence of Diet at the
Kelley, M.A. & C.S. Larson (eds.) Advances in Dental Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Ukraine. Journal of
Anthropology: 279-93. New York: Wiley Liss. Archaeological Science 27: 965-72.
GOODMAN, A.H., G.J. ARMELAGOS & J.C. ROSE LILLIE, M.C. & K. JACOBS 2006. Stable isotope
1984. The Chronological Distribution of Enamel analysis of fourteen individuals from the Mesolithic
Hypoplasias from Prehistoric Dickson Mounds cemetery of Vasilyevka II, Dnieper Rapids region,
Populations. American Journal of Physical Ukraine. Journal of Archaeological Science 33: 880-
Anthropology 65: 259-66. 886.
HAUSSLER, A.M. 1995. Origins and Relationships of LILLIE, M.C., M.P. RICHARDS & K. JACOBS 2003.
People Buried in Large Ukrainian Mesolithic Stable Isotope Analysis of 21 individuals from the
Cemeteries: the evidence from dental morphology. Epipalaeolithic cemetery of Vasilyevka II, Dnieper
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Suppl. Rapids region, Ukraine. Journal of Archaeological
20): 103. Science 30:743-52.
HUSS-ASHMORE, R., A.H. GOODMAN & G.J. MAYS, S., 1995. Killing the Unwanted Child. British
ARMELAGOS 1982. Nutritional Inference fron Archaeology 2: 8-9.
Palaeopathology, in Schiffer, M. (ed.) Advances in MCGOVERN-WILSON, R., & C. QUINN 1996. Stable
Archaeological Method and Theory 5: 395-464. isotope analysis of ten individuals from Afetna,
JACOBS, K. 1993. Human postcranial variation in the Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. Journal of
Ukrainian Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. Current Archaeological Science 23: 59-65.
Anthropology 34: 41-30. MOGGI-CECCHI, J., E. PACCIANI & J. PINTO-
JACOBS, K. 1994. Reply to Anthony on subsistence CISTERNAS 1994. Enamel Hypoplasia and Age at
change at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. Current Weaning in 19th Century Florence, Italy. American
Anthropology 35: 52-9. Journal of Physical Anthropology 93: 229-306.
JACOBS, K. 1995. Returning to Olenii Ostrov: Social, NICHOLAS, G.P. 1991. Putting Wetlands into Perspec-
economic and skeletal dimensions of a boral forest tive. Man in the Northeast 42: 29-38.
Mesolithic cemetery. Journal of Anthropological NICHOLAS, G.P. 2006a. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in
Archaeology 14: 359-403. wetland environments: theoretical issues, economic
LILLIE, M.C. 1996. Mesolithic and Neolithic Populations organisation and resource management strategies, in
of Ukraine: indications of diet from dental pathology. Lillie, M.C. & S. Ellis (eds.) Wetland archaeology
Current Anthropology 37: 135-42. and environments: regional issues, global perspecti-
LILLIE, M.C. 1997. Women and Children in Prehistory: ves: 46-62. Oxford: Oxbow.
resource sharing and social stratification at the NICHOLAS, G.P. 2006b. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in
Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Ukraine, in: Moore, wetland environments: mobility/sedentism and aspects
J. & E. Scott (eds.) Invisible People and Processes: of socio-political organisation, in Lillie, M.C. & S.
Writing Gender and Childhood into European Ellis (eds.) Wetland archaeology and environments:
Archaeology: 213-28. London: Leicester University regional issues, global perspectives: 245-57. Oxford:
Press. Oxbow.


SCHULTING, R. 2003. The marrying kind: evidence for TELEGIN, D.Y. 1968. Днiпро-донецька культура.
a patrilocal postmarital residence pattern in the Київ: Наукова думка.
Mesolithic of southern Brittany, in Larsson, L., H. TELEGIN, D.Y. 1982. Мезолiтичнi пам’ятки України.
Kindgren, K. Knutsson, D. Loeffler & A. Åkerlund Київ: Наукова думка.
(eds.) Mesolithic on the Move: Papers presented at
the Sixth International Conference on the Meso- TELEGIN, D.Y. & I.D. POTEKHINA 1987. Neolithic
lithic in Europe, Stockholm 2000: 431-41. Oxford: Cemeteries and Populations in the Dnieper Basin.
Oxbow. Oxford: B.A.R. International Series 383.
SMITH, B.H. 1991. Standards of Human Tooth TELEGIN, D.Y., I.D. POTEKHINA, M.C. LILLIE &
Formation and Dental Age Assessment, in Kelley, M.M. KOVALIUKH 2002. The Chronology of the
M.A., and J.C. Larson (eds.) Advances in Dental Mariupol-type cemeteries of Ukraine re-visited.
Anthropology: 143-68. New York: Wiley Liss. Antiquity 76: 356-63.
SPETH, J.D. 1990. Seasonality, Resource Stress and TELEGIN, D.Y., M.C. LILLIE, I.D. POTEKHINA &
Food-Sharing in So-called ‘Egalitarian’ Foraging M.M. KOVALIUKH 2003. Settlement and Economy
Societies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology in Neolithic Ukraine: A New Chronology. Antiquity
9/2: 148-88. 77 (279): 456-470.
SCHWARCZ, H. & M. SCHOENINGER 1991. Stable ZHILIN, M. 2006. Mesolithic wetland sites in Central
isotope analysis in human nutritionalecology. Year- Russia, in Lillie, M.C. & S. Ellis (eds.) Wetland
book of Physical Anthropology 34, 283-321. archaeology and environments: regional issues,
global perspectives: 65-78. Oxford: Oxbow.
TELEGIN, D.Y. 1961. К вопросу о днепро-донецкой
неолитической культуре. Советская археология 9: ZVELEBIL, M. 1994. Plant Use in the Mesolithic and its
10-20. Role in the Transition to Farming. Proceedings of the
Prehistoric Society 60: 35-74.

Sharon MOSES
Cornell University, U.S.A.,

Abstract: Neolithic Çatalhöyük in south central Turkey illustrates prehistoric ideology and religion interwoven with daily life. This
paper posits that children’s bodies were integral in creation of sacred spaces. Unusual child burials in lieu of clear physical/forensic
evidence of violent death are often interpreted archaeologically as “natural,” utilized for ritual purposes.
I propose that contextual evidence can, in certain circumstances, be as compelling and that a priori labeling them as “natural” robs
potential understanding of children’s roles in religious ideologies. This paper is not a physical or forensic analysis, but rather
theoretical and contextual. Ways to discern clues for ritual death based upon different motivations are presented.
Keywords: Neolithic, children, religion, burial, sacrifice

Résumé: Le site néolithique de Çatalhöyük dans le sud de la Turquie centrale illustre l’idéologie et la religion préhistoriques
entrecroisées avec la vie quotidienne. Cet article avance que les corps des enfants étaient intégrés à la création d’espaces sacrés.
Les enterrements insolites d’enfants, en lieu et place de la preuve physique/légale claire de mort violente, sont souvent interprétés
archéologiquement comme “naturels”, utilisés dans des buts rituels.
Je propose que les témoignages contextuels peuvent, dans certaines circonstances, être significatifs, et que la qualification a priori
de ces sépultures comme “naturelles” empêche la compréhension potentielle des rôles des enfants dans les idéologies religieuses. Ce
papier n’est pas une analyse physique ou légale, mais plutôt théorique et contextuelle. Les façons de discerner les indices de morts
rituelles, fondées sur des motivations différentes, sont présentées.
Mots clefs: Néolithique, les enfants, la religion, l’enterrement, le sacrifice

INTRODUCTION Contemporary political and cultural concerns may also

play a role in hindering suggestions of possible ritual
Often when archaeologists discover children and infants practices that descendant communities may find offensive
as foundation deposits there is a hesitation to characterize or where fears of resulting negativity may have residual
them as ritual deaths or sacrifices, particularly in lieu of effect.
forensic evidence which would clearly indicate violent
death. It is problematic, however, to always base our We should be cognizant of these factors in the interpretive
evaluations solely on hard forensic evidence. The process; this paper is not a call for uncritical interpret-
majority of infant and child remains do not easily reflect tation, the utilization of “sacrifice” as the new default
recognizable clues of unnatural death after centuries or term, or for speculation in absence of evidence. Rather,
millennia, particularly when the means may have included this is an appeal for a more balanced, though cautionary
smothering, strangling, or other methods which would approach, to placing unusual child burials in context
leave no imprint upon skeletal remains. within other patterned behavior instead of avoiding them
as ultimately indeterminate.
It is much easier and frankly, safer, as archaeologists to
leave the mode of death unaddressed where it is not This paper argues that unilateral avoidance of controver-
readily obvious, noting only that the child’s body was sial burials ultimately robs the potential for understanding
placed in a wall, a floor, or other structure after-the-fact as the full impact of children’s roles in prehistory. This is
a ritual deposit. But does this failure to explore likely particularly pertinent in the Neolithic, a time when
death scenarios based upon contextual differences and religious symbolism and ritual behavior experienced
their subsequent implications, minimize our potential florescence in concert with changing social and cultural
understanding of ritual child burials? ideologies where the importance of children as conduits to
the supernatural world would be highly significant.
Unfortunately, the full implication of children’s bodies
and the means by which they came to be utilized in ritual Based upon my studies of child burials and social roles in
events is too seldom pursued or debated. Rather, these the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, I argue
unique burials tend to be summed up with the phrase that contextual evidence should be considered as an
“possible foundation deposit” and left as little more than a alternative interpretive tool where patterns cross-regio-
footnote in the reconstruction of ancient religious nally, intraspatially or temporally indicate a deeper
practices and beliefs. likelihood of sacrificial rituals despite an absence of direct
forensic evidence. Further, this paper strives for ways to
Avoidance of labeling sacrificial activities may also be discern and separate possible ritual deaths from votive
partly rooted in our own modern Western biases which deposits utilizing children’s bodies after death has already
have difficulty reconciling ritual child sacrifice with ease. occurred.


Furthermore, I argue that foundation deposit as a outnumbers those found in other Anatolian sites thus far
descriptive phrase should not be utilized as a one-size- (Andrews et al. 2006). Although some sites in Anatolia
fits-all application covering all child burials simply can currently lay claim to more burials per se, such as
because they are located at the foundation level of Çayönü, it must be remembered that the majority of
structures. Such deposits were complex in that different individuals found at Çayönü were interred in a ritual
contexts addressed different spiritual or ideological structure (Skull Building) rather than a dwelling, signify-
concerns associated with creating sacred spaces. These cantly changing the context of the burials themselves.
subtle differences and varying contexts may reflect
different ritual motivations. This paper is in favor of It has been established that structures once thought to be
noting those differences where they occur. Different shrines at Çatalhöyük (Mellaart 1967) were in fact not
motivations may well have defined not only the ritual shrines or public structures but served as dwellings.
involved but subsequently the status of the offering Micromorphology of floors and surfaces indicate multiple
immediately before burial, whether alive or dead. activities including food preparation, tool knapping,
sleeping areas, and other activities associated with daily
These considerations may bring us closer to detecting life (Matthews et al. 1996). These dwellings housed an
clues favoring active or passive agencies and the victim’s average of four or more individuals on a year-around
mode of death. Because of these differences, under certain basis and indications are that children were part of the
circumstances ritual death rather than convenient death family units inhabiting them. This is contrary to earlier
may be a more viable interpretation. beliefs that the architectural design of the structures was
not child-friendly, and would pose a threat to the health
and welfare of small children around sharp contours such
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF BURIAL STYLES IN as plastered horns, burcrania and external ledges from
THE NEOLITHIC which they might fall.

Intramural, courtyard burials, or cemeteries abutting In the Mediterranean and southeastern European regions,
living areas are consistent with funerary practices though intramural child burials occur, generally speaking
throughout the Neolithic Near East. Styles of burial vary a burial placement in delineated cemeteries which more
by region, with cremation and ceramic encasement in jars formally separated the living from the dead was more
or pots more predominant in southeastern Europe, likely to occur. Intramural burials are generally less
particularly in Greece and Italy (Perlès 2001). common in numbers compared to the Near East and
Levant. Besides allocated cemeteries, burial spaces
Widely practiced in the Near East from the Natufian included caves and other areas that could be considered
through PPNB (Prepottery Neolithic B), skull removal liminal in some way, particularly for ritual purposes
and elaboration (plastering skulls, etc.) became infrequent (Perlès 2001; Whitehouse 1992).
by the PPNC throughout the Levant (Bar-Yosef & Valla
1991; Kenyon 1957; Kuijt 2000). The practice of decapita- Aside from intramural interment, neonates, infants, and
teon of the dead has been found in relatively few instances juveniles at Çatalhöyük were given primary burial;
in Anatolia by comparison, at sites Çatalhöyük, Nevalı Çori, primary-multiple burials do occur, but when they do,
Çayönü, and Cafer Höyük during the early to late Neolithic children tend to be grouped with other children and
(Hauptmann 1999; Özdoğan 1999; Rollefson 2001). occasionally with an adult. In these adult/child burials, it
is often assumed (when the adult is female) that she was
Only two instances of specific decapitation (both adults) likely the mother, perhaps who died in childbirth.
and one instance of skull plastering (also an adult) has
been found at Çatalhöyük – the plaster primarily placed in Since the 1990s excavations began, approximately twen-
a band across the eyes and face, rather than the entire ty-four percent of non-adults have been interred within
skull as found in the Levant (2004 field season). baskets made specifically for burials. Unique grasses
indicate that these baskets were not utilized for other
Further westward in the Mediterranean region, i.e. household purposes; at least none have been found thus
Greece, Italy etc. rather than post-mortem skull removal far (Hodder 2006). The vast majority of basket burials
per se, secondary burial practices wherein long bones and from the renewed excavations appear to be relegated to
skulls from primary burials were gathered and redeposited neonates and infants, although Mellaart (1964) noted in
(sometimes in ossuaries) was a common practice, and his 1960s preliminary reports that basket burials were
virtually no skull plastering/elaboration has been found represented in all age groups. Presumably these numbers
(Perlès 2001). diminished as age of the individual increased, but
Mellaart noted at least one case of an adult in an enlarged
By comparison, Çatalhöyük seems to place more basket. Unfortunately detailed accounts of these examples
emphasis on intramural burials than has been found were not documented.
elsewhere in the Anatolian region. In fact, the number of
burials found within settlement living spaces and not in Despite earlier views by Mellaart (1967) who suggested
delineated public or ritual-specific cult buildings far secondary burials were the predominant funerary


practice at Çatalhöyük, this has now been ruled out. In ÇATALHÖYÜK’S DIFFERENTIATED CHILD
secondary burials fingers, toes, hyoid bones, etc. are BURIALS
invariably lost due to the scattering effect of excarnation
or other exposure practices. The disarticulated bones in Çatalhöyük excavations have uncovered four types of
the burials Mellaart excavated and thought were child burials which are further differentiated from typical
secondary, were in actuality disturbed burials; the result on-mound child burials. That is to say, a “typical” on-
of new interments placed next to or over the top of mound child burial is one normally intramural, located
previous burials. Secondary burials have thus been beneath a platform or floor on the north/northwest,
determined an uncommon funerary practice at north/central, west or eastern side of a house. Neonates
Çatalhöyük. Only two graves from current excavations are often found along a south or southwestern wall and
show evidence of secondary burial activity (Andrews et often in a woven basket and close to or within the hearth.
al. 2005). Of the secondary burials from Grave 31 in The significance of the southern side seems to be spiritual
Building 1, two were adults and two were adolescent rather than functional both for building entrance and
males (#1482 and #1491) aged fifteen and seventeen burial pattern.
Evidence suggests that burial location within the house
Human remains analysis indicates that the majority of was dependant upon the age of the child, with only
burials were primary and/or disturbed and bodies interred neonates and youngest infants placed in the south area or
beneath house floors and platforms shortly after death. in the vicinity of the hearth. Burial options for placement
Previous hypotheses that bodies had been exposed to of these youngest individuals seems to have encompassed
scavengers for excarnation before burial are not supported the whole house (though the southerly areas held
by the evidence. Remains of individuals thought to be preference) while other age categories seem precluded
secondary interments show no signs of chewing or other from the south/hearth area. In all, nearly sixty per cent of
scavenger activity, although there has been evidence of the individuals interred in the settlement based upon data
“trampling.” This suggests they were placed on or near a from the current excavations through 2003 are of
trafficked surface where the bodies were distressed by children, suggesting children held a special place in the
being tread over yet isolated from animals and an cosmological beliefs and rituals of the inhabitants (Moses
uncontrolled environment. 2006).

Finally, when Çatalhöyük’s burials are projected against a The four differentiated categories of specialized child
settlement population estimated at one time to have been burials found in Çatalhöyük excavations thus far as
approximately 3.000 to 8.000, the numbers do not presented in this paper are: 1) foundation burials, 2)
reconcile (Hodder & Cessford 2004). It is now believed threshold burials, 3) change of space-use ritual burial,
that the majority of the population, both adult and sub- and 4) fortification or wall/ceiling burial. Each of these
adult, was not interred beneath the settlement houses, but categories will be examined with examples taken from the
elsewhere outside the settlement. original excavations by James Mellaart in the early 1960s
as well as from the current excavations under Ian Hodder,
The overall placement of more burials in some dwellings who reopened the site in 1993. I will then attempt to
than others coupled with the outward appearance of synthesize my interpretations and theoretical perspectives
largely egalitarian governance, suggests that at Çatal- toward a more meaningful understanding of the signify-
höyük and elsewhere in the Neolithic, ancestors and cance of these distinct child burials.
kinship lineages was of great importance. Burials at
Çatalhöyük were likely utilized toward establishing and
maintaining connections to religion, tradition and ÇATALHÖYÜK’S FOUNDATION AND
privileges or rights accorded to specific households and THRESHOLD BURIALS
From the most recent excavations there are three neonate
Since the majority of the dead were disposed of off the burials, individuals #2515, #2199, and #2197, placed at
mound utilizing funerary practices as yet unknown, this the threshold between two rooms within Building 1,
suggests that intramural mound burials were a special namely the crawl space between Space 71 and Space 187.
category in and of themselves simply by virtue of their These burials took place during the construction phase
selection for in-settlement, intramural interment (Hodder (Subphase B1.1B), thus their designation as foundation
& Cessford 2004). deposits. This building was located in the North Area of
the east mound.
The majority of on-mound burials at Çatalhöyük are
children. This paper follows the “special category” Also interred during the construction phase, a fourth
premise of on-mound burials and argues that children neonate (#2532) with an adult female (#2527) referred to
played an integral role in maintaining connections to the previously, were placed in the fill but located away from
ancestors, creating sacred spaces and in general the threshold burials and closer to the north wall (Cess-
communicating with the supernatural world. ford, North Area Excavation report, Vol. 3 forthcoming).


This has been posited as a likely mother and child pair. wood). It appears to have been a one time event which
The location of this pair in comparative reference to the ultimately and inadvertently helped seal the burial (Farid,
three neonate deposits suggests the neonate/adult burial South Area Excavation reports Vol. 3 forthcoming). The
may have been placed during the construction phase with burial was located on the western periphery of the fire and
other ritual motives, although still linked to the foun- no evidence suggesting the fire was used for utilitarian
dation status of the building. purposes such as food processing has been found.

All four neonates constitute the only four neonates in the As a ritual event, the visual significance of the burial was
building out of sixty-two burials. The significance of enhanced by its open public access; a marked contrast to
burial location, construction activity, and the limitation of the private and enclosed intramural burials which would
the age category for the remainder of the life cycle of the have limited the view to a select few inside a house.
house, differentiates these from all other burials within
the house.
The most recent foundation deposit has been the
discovery of a woman embracing a plastered skull which Mellaart discovered the remains of a child whom he
caused quite a stir at the site. Todate, it is the only describes as a “stillborn” or “premature” found encased in
plastered treatment of a skull, linking the practice to the a mudbrick from a wall he believed to be a shrine in Level
Levant and other Near Eastern sites where skull plastering VI.A.14 on the South side of the mound (Mellaart 1963;
techniques were used. The plastering seems focused upon 1967, 83). The infant was discovered when the mudbrick
the facial features rather than the entire skull as found in was broken during excavation. The impressions in the
Jericho, however. The young woman holding the semi- clay revealed that it was once enshrouded in a woven
plastered skull was deposited in a pit with infant (10498) basket and the infant’s bones were stained with red ochre.
associated with the foundation level of Building 42, A piece of shell and an obsidian chip were also placed
which was a new building constructed over a previous with the baby.
midden. Hodder posits that because the building had no
structural/ancestral predecessor, it may have been deemed Mellaart surmised that the brick was “set somewhere high
necessary to build over the top of an “ancestor” - the in the wall” (Mellaart 1963, 75) in his description of the
plastered skull – in order to establish the house (Hodder west wall where two plastered bull’s heads were located
2006). The woman may have been a member of the house and where a wall relief he believed to be an abstract
lineage or for other unknown reasons was selected as the “goddess” was found. This may have been the context for
most appropriate deposit for this ritual event. No overt the brick but unfortunately more specific details are
signs of violence have been noted about the skeleton and lacking.
it has not been identified as a sacrificial victim but
accepted as simply a foundation deposit, presumably a Small hand prints were painted in red over the end of the
natural and opportune death at the time of construction. larger bucrania’s snout during an earlier phase, suggesting
The plastered skull itself was not new at the time of its a correlation between small children and infants in the
deposit in the grave. Evidence indicates it had been religious symbolism in the room. Mellaart (1963)
plastered at least three different times with red paint and described this building as particularly elaborate, with
had been kept above ground for some time before this multiple bucrania and horn cores molded into benches as
burial. well as the wall; the south wall which was relatively
undecorated in other houses, also had a molded niche or
cavity and a ram’s head plastered above it.
From the current excavations in an area known as the
A neonate burial was found in Space 199, feature 525 of “4040” on the north side of the mound, an infant of
the South Area excavations. The neonate was in a basket approximately two years of age was found in Space 227,
and placed in a shallow grave in an open area, near the northeast platform (2004 Çatalhöyük Archive
approximately five meters east of a wall (F.551). Its Report). There were no distinguishable burial cuts in the
extramural status identifies it as very unusual and is the platform and it is believed to also have originally been
only one of its kind to-date. This burial was found in the placed higher up in the northern wall, which was unstable
beginning of Level XII, one of the earliest partially during the occupation of the house and seemingly in
excavated levels of Çatalhöyük. The burial was located in danger of collapsing inward (Fig. 5.1).
an area during a transition of space use; that is to say, the
beginning of Level XII which marked the end of a long
term use midden in the courtyard and the beginning of a WHERE POWER RESIDES: SACRIFICE VERSUS
sheep/goat penning area. The context suggests that the VOTIVE DEPOSIT
burial served as a ritual deposit for sanctifying this
change. Burning activity adjacent to this burial is Historically and ethnographically, cases of human or
evidenced by a charcoal residue from a unique fuel (oak animal sacrifice suggest the power of the foundation


Fig. 5.1. A hurried wall burial of a two-year-old child at Neolithic Çatalhöyük,

possibly to add stability to the wall, reconstruction by Sharon Moses

sacrifice lies in its cost to the individual and/or the Sacrificial rituals existed in Native American cultures of
community performing the ritual, as well as the suffering North America (Gill 1982; Underhill 1953). In the Pacific
of the victim (Brown 1991; Green 2001). This is the core Northwest for example, foundation sacrifices utilizing
of sacrificial efficacy toward coercing the will of super- slaves or captives when erecting a new community use or
naturals toward granting benefits to the living such as storage house was practiced. The victim was placed in
blessings, privileges, prosperity, protection, purification one of the corner post holes and was subsequently
and sanctification (Abusch 2002; Brown 1991). crushed when the foundation post was lowered in over the
top of them. Those who survived the weight of the post
When coupled with intramural interment, foundation met death through suffocation as the post hole was filled
sacrifices have been found to be associated with ancestor with dirt and rocks.
cults and lineage governing systems that dictate the act of
killing the victim is necessary for the offering to have In the Midwestern region, a captive young girl was
value. Ritual killing has been further linked to agricultural periodically sacrificed as part of an ancient Pawnee
societies, where seasonal changes, crop or animal fertility ceremony commemorating the journey from this world to
and prosperity are entwined with religious mythologies the supernatural world from where a medicine bundle was
(Green 2001; James 2002). Folklore, songs, legends and believed to have originated. After the four day ceremony,
customs from historic periods reflect a long tradition in the girl was struck on the head with a sacred war club and
many societies that stress the importance of living crea- shot with a sacred bow and arrow as well. Her blood was
tures as sacrifices or scapegoats in order to communicate used to sanctify dried buffalo meat and corn seeds (Gill
or make requests of the supernatural world. Supernaturals 1982).
are perceived to respond most to the act of sacrifice
through the emotional impact, blood, tears, or release of Blood letting and ritual killing were closely connected to
essence of the victim that symbolize the life force in order re-enactment of mythological events and transformation
to propitiate the gods (Brown 1991; Green 2001; James in many Native American cultures. Loss of life-essence
2002). and blood of victims were also necessary catalysts in


ritual acts intended to bring about change or acknow- SUMMARY

ledge it, either literal or figurative, through cosmological
forces. The three neonate foundation burials nearest the crawl
space of Building 1 appear to fulfill a dual purpose. While
In another example from historic Europe, Slavic countries foundation deposits are often located in corners or
such as Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and literally within a foundation structure, these foundation
Yugoslavia local customs originally demanded human burials seem to be defined by the liminal status of the
sacrifices for foundation deposits for bridges, fortification internal threshold between two rooms. Thus, while the
walls and places of worship since pre-Christian times. construction phase of the house establishes the general
However, tradition changed in that human beings were context, the focus of intent appears to be the room-to-
replaced with hens, cocks, cats and dogs as Christianity’s room access point.
influence spread in rural communities throughout
the Middle Ages. Traditional rituals were closely tied Sacrificial threshold rituals are often made to purify and
with community identities and were not completely consecrate a doorway, where the crossing over point is
replaced with Christian ideas, even at the peak of perceived as a dangerous zone to the health and vitality of
persecution. the occupants and the house itself if not properly treated.
Threshold sacrifices normally consist of taking the life of the
Ritual victims when not sacrificed beforehand were typi- offering, its blood, etc. utilized to make this liminal space
cally caged or bound and buried alive beneath foundation sacred (Brewster 1971; Green 2001; Whitehouse 1992).
structures. Germanic peoples likewise give ethnographic
accounts of different sacrifices for different purposes A votive deposit, in this case the burial of stillborns, I
(Bartha 1983). Archaeological evidence from prehistory posit, would be an unlikely ritual choice considering the
forward demonstrates that victims were often children, context; the importance of the ritual is correlated and
many times placed in boundary locations which could be defined by its limited performance, in this case in
construed as “liminal” and near storage areas such as Çatalhöyük’s Building 1. As mentioned earlier, this
grain or corn silos (Scott 1991; Skeates 1991). By the building contained no other neonates for the duration of
Middle Ages a widespread shift to animals as ritual its house-life which constituted sixty-two burials.
substitutions can be noted and human beings (in the form
of body parts, secondary burials or representational Because one of the neonates was buried in a primary
figurines, etc.) were used in more passive forms of burial with an adult female and separated in location from
dedication rituals. the other three neonates clustered nearest the threshold
and no clear association with a particular wall or struc-
The ritual act of sacrifice was an active method by which ture, it seems less clear whether the mother and child died
individuals and communities sought to incite supernatural in childbirth and were therefore used as votive burials
action or to generate reciprocal obligations from the during the construction phase because they belonged to
supernatural world. Its signature was a sense of individual the lineage of the house. There is not enough contextual
or collective empowerment via the ritual act. evidence to suggest association with the main neonate
burial cluster beyond the age of the infant, also a neonate.
Where neither human nor animal sacrifice is evident,
human and/or animal bones or body parts, and inanimate The infant buried with the woman with a plastered skull
objects have been used historically as votive deposits. of the foundation deposit for Building 42, however, seems
Alternately, votive deposits were designed to function as a more likely candidate for a sacrificial event rather than a
a gesture, an expression of hopeful appeal, yet timely, convenient death. The purposeful and highly
something more than a prayer. These deposits can be significant burial interred with a rare plastered skull
construed as evidence of a passive ritual act in that they suggests a ritual event worthy of a sacrificial catalyst. If
lacked immediacy and the course of action was the establishment of a new building over a previous
ultimately left to the discretion of supernatural entities. midden necessitated the inclusion of an “ancestor” via a
The depositor lacked the empowerment inherent in a plastered skull, this implies forethought and planning
sacrificial act. associated with a change of space use as seen in the
extramural child burial.
Furthermore, the votive deposit placed little or no great
loss upon the depositor; that is to say, the deposit had The change-of-space ritual from a midden to a penning
value, but this may have been more symbolic than area for sheep and goats stands out as a one-time event,
economic or lower in emotional cost. Votives were often complete with a bonfire fueled with special wood
placed after the request had been granted as a form of consecrating the ground in the burial’s vicinity. Again, the
thank you, acknowledgement, and to act as a visual deposit of a stillborn, I posit, would seem to run counter
marker and/or performance. These performances were to the special context and intent of this ritual.
meant as much for the living as for the dead, acting as a
form of communal or familial bonding and reinforcement It is not unprecedented to assume that children played an
of group identity. important role in the daily shepherding of livestock and


were thus associated more closely with animal care. Most with an urgency to strengthen it quickly and permanently,
agrarian and shepherding societies utilize its children to and this would imply an active course of action rather
help with crops and/or animals while adults are largely than a passive one associated with votive deposits.
engaged in activities that require more refined knowledge,
skill and strength. Beyond the physical qualities and uses I posit the pivotal factor involved with contextual reading
children posed in the care of animals and food gathering, of foundation rituals, whether they involved ritual killing
they also represented a spiritual element in the protection or represent a votive deposits, would be indicated by
of these resources. immediacy and intentionality of the ritual act.
Empowerment and urgency toward specific outcomes
Children have often represented a purity or closeness to links ritual behavior with active machinations of religious
the supernatural world in a way that adults did not (Green magic, the hallmark of ritual death. Toward that end, the
2001). Perhaps the consecration of ground and change of likelihood of sacrifice would be greater where these
space necessitated the ritual death of a child to promote factors are in place.
health and protection.
This paper is not an attempt at definitive labeling of
Çatalhöyük’s special emphasis on the religious symbo- controversial or specialized child burials as sacrifices;
lism of children and their bodies would seem to be con- rather, it is an attempt to address the need for
sistent with sanctifying the health and prosperity of the archaeologists to look more closely at the archaeological
animals to be penned in this space. It would be of utmost record and its contextual values for a richer understanding
importance to facilitate the well-being of such an im- of children in the religious development of a community.
portant aspect of the settlement’s economy and survival.
In closing, the significance of children and children’s
Finally, the in-wall infant burials provide us with an bodies in the religious and ritual fabric of Çatalhöyük is
insight into the conceptual differences between votive and difficult to deny. The extent to which we explore the
sacrificial rites. Hodder posits that the deposit from the implications at this and other archaeological sites is
wall in the 4040 area did not appear to be a “careful” one, limited only by our willingness to examine contextual
that is to say, not evidenced by an obvious ritual, but may clues despite an absence of clear forensic evidence for
have been hurriedly placed there possibly to “‘strengthen’ ritual death.
the wall” (Hodder 2006, 217).

Mellaart’s infant was encased in a mudbrick inside a Acknowledgments

basket with grave offerings suggesting that more thought
and preparation went into the deposit. He described the Thank you to the Çatalhöyük Research Project and
infant as stillborn, but in actuality this would be nearly members; the National Science Foundation which
impossible to confirm. The room in which this deposit financially supported my graduate program, enabling me
was found was replete with reliefs, plastered bucrania, to spend more time in research; to Luiz Oosterbeek and
horn cores and a stylized handprint of a child in two pla- the UISPP 2006 Congress and Krum Bacvarov, organizer
stered bucrania sequences, suggesting a strong connection of the “Babies Reborn” session of the Congress.
between young children and the overall religious sym-
bolism in the room.
There are many ethnographic examples of non-living
deposits placed in walls for the purpose of buttressing ABUSCH, T. 2002. Sacrifice in Mesopotamia, in A.I.
architectural stability or for apotropaic purposes (Brew- Baumgarten (ed.) Sacrifice in Religious Experience:
ster 1971; Green 2001). Typically, these are symbolic and 39-48. Leiden: Brill.
culturally imbued ideological representations embodied ANDREWS, P., T. MOLLESON & B. BOZ 2005. The
by inanimate objects, i.e. utensils, jewelry, seeds, hair, Human Burials at Çatalhöyük, in I. Hodder (ed.)
figurines etc. and include body parts of humans or Inhabiting Çatalhöyük reports from the 1995-99
animals. However, where the entire person or animal is seasons, 4: 261-278. Cambridge: McDonald Institute
entombed within a structure, new significance may be for Archaeological Research.
associated with the entirety of the body itself. I would BARTHA, E. 1983. The objects and requisites of
posit we take a more careful examination of contexts to foundation sacrifice. Muveltseg es Hagyomany 21:
ascertain the possibility that a sacrifice may have taken 167-175.
place, even hurriedly if necessary, and the victim used to
infuse the structure or space with an intent and power BAR-YOSEF, O. & F.R. VALLA (eds.) 1991. The Natu-
distinctly different from the symbolic gesture of a votive fian Culture in the Levant. Ann Arbor: International
deposit. Monographs in Prehistory, Archaeological Series 1.
BREWSTER, P. 1971. The Foundation Sacrifice Motif in
The fact that the wall in the 4040 area was notably Legend, Folksong, Game and Dance. Zeitschrift für
unstable, may indicate the inhabitants were motivated Ethnologie 96/1: 71-89.


BROWN, S. 1991. Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice. MELLAART, J. 1964. Excavations at Catal Hüyük, 1963:
Sheffield: Academic Press. Third preliminary report. Anatolian Studies 14: 39-
CESSFORD, C. & S. FARID 2006. Çatalhöyük Exca- 119.
vation Reports, 3. British Institute of Archaeology at MELLAART, J. 1967. Catal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in
Ankara Monographs (forthcoming). Anatolia. London: Thames & Hudson.
GILL, S.D. 1982. Native American Religions. (The MOSES, S. 2006. Children and Childhood in Tradition
religious life of man series) Belmont: Wadsworth. and Ritual at Çatalhöyük, in From Earth to Eternity:
GREEEN, M.A. 2001. Dying for the Gods: Human Çatalhöyük. Istanbul: Yapi Kredi.
Sacrifice in Iron Age & Roman Europe. Stroud: ÖZDOGAN, M. 1999. Northwestern Turkey: Neolithic
Tempus. Cultures in Between the Balkans and Anatolia, in M.
HAUPTMANN, H. 1999. The Urfa Region in the Özdoğan & N. Başgelen (eds.) Neolithic in Turkey:
Neolithic of the Lake District, in M. Özdoğan & N. The Cradle of Civilization: 203-224. Istanbul:
Başgelen (eds.) Neolithic in Turkey: The Cradle of Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayinlari.
Civilization: 65-86. Istanbul: Arkeoloji ve Sanat PERLÈS, C. 2001. The Early Neolithic In Greece: the
Yayinlari. first farming communities in Europe. Cambridge:
HODDER, I. 2006. The Leopard’s Tale: Revealing the University Press.
Mysteries of Çatalhöyük. London: Thames & Hudson. ROLLEFSON, G.O. 2001. The Neolithic Period, in B.
HODDER, I. & C. CESSFORD 2004. Daily Practice and MacDonald, R. Adams & P. Bienkowski (eds.) The
Social Memory at Çatalhöyük. American Antiquity Archaeology of Jordan: 67-105. Sheffield: Academic
69/1: 17-40. Press.
JAMES, S.E. 2002. Mimetic rituals of child sacrifice in SCOTT, E. 1991. Animal and Infant burials in Romano-
the Hopi Kachina cult. Journal of the Southwest 44/3. British villas: a revitalization movement, in P. Gar-
Tucson: University of Arizona. wood, D. Jennings, R. Skeates & J. Toms (eds.)
Sacred and Profane: Proceedings of a conference on
KENYON, K.M. 1957. Digging up Jericho. New York: Archaeology, Ritual and Religion (Oxford University
Praeger. Committee for Archaeology Monograph 32): 115-121.
KUIJT, I. 2000. Near Eastern Neolithic Research: Oxford: Oxford Committee for Archaeology.
Directions and Trends, in I. Kuijt (ed.) Life in SKEATES, R. 1991. Caves, Cult and Children in
Neolithic Farming Communities: social organization, Neolithic Abruzzo, Central Italy, in P. Garwood, D.
identity and differentiation: 311-322. New York: Jennings, R. Skeates & J. Toms (eds.) Sacred and
Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press. Profane: Proceedings of a conference on Archaeo-
MATTHEWS, W., C. FRENCH, T. LAWRENCE & D. logy, Ritual and Religion (Oxford University
CUTLER. 1996. Multiple surfaces: the micromorpho- Committee for Archaeology Monograph 32): 122-134.
logy, in I. Hodder (ed.) On the Surface: Çatalhöyük Oxford: Oxford Committee for Archaeology.
1993-95, 1: 301-342. Cambridge: McDonald Institute UNDERHILL, R. 1953. Indians of the Pacific Northwest
for Archaeological Research. (Indian Life and Customs). Branch of Ed. Bureau of
MELLAART, J. 1963. Excavations at Catal Hüyük, 1962: Indian Affairs.
Second preliminary report. Anatolian Studies 13: 43- WHITEHOUSE, R.D. 1992. Underground Religion: Cult
103. and Culture in Prehistoric Italy. London: Accordia.

Ecole française d’Athènes, Greece,

Abstract: The number of sub-adult burials is very scarce in the Greek Neolithic. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that those we
know are probably exceptional, and that we should be very cautious about their interpretation. This paper presents some recurrent
child mortuary practices that appear to be very similar to the adult mortuary practices until the Late Neolithic. The data available
rule out any possibility to interpret children’s status in Greek Neolithic society.
Keywords: Funerary practices, children, Greece, Neolithic

Résume: Le nombre de sépultures d’immatures connues pour le Néolithique grec est encore très faible. Il s’agit donc souvent de
tombes potentiellement exceptionnelles, ce qui exige une grande prudence dans leur interprétation. Quelques pratiques récurrentes
dans le traitement funéraire des immatures peuvent toutefois être mises en évidence, surtout à partir du Néolithique Récent: des
indices d’une différenciation fondée sur l’âge apparaissent alors sur certains sites. Les données funéraires ne permettent toutefois
pas de restituer la place des enfants dans la société néolithique.
Mots Clefs: Pratiques funéraires, enfants, Grèce, néolithique

INTRODUCTION1 Les individus que nous considérons comme “immatures”

étaient âgés de 12/14 ans au plus lors de leur décès. La
L’étude du traitement funéraire des enfants pendant le classe d’âge des nouveau-nés (0-1 ans) est distinguée de
Néolithique en Grèce est actuellement fondée sur des celle des petits enfants (1-5 ans) lorsque les données le
données excessivement limitées. Environ 200 sépultures permettent2. Ces dernières ne sont pas assez précises pour
d’immatures sont recensées pour la très longue période opérer d’autres subdivisions: il est ainsi impossible de
néolithique (ca. 6500-3300/3100), et elles se concentrent repérer une différenciation du traitement funéraire des
essentiellement aux Néolithique Récent et Final (ca. périnataux (6 mois lunaires gestationnels à un mois civil
5300-3300/3100). Ces tombes sont en outre inégalement après le terme), bien que cette distinction soit poten-
réparties dans l’espace égéen, leur carte résultant des dis- tiellement significative pour l’interprétation.
parités et hasards des recherches archéologiques (fig. 6.1).

Peut-on bâtir un raisonnement archéologique sur le traite- PROBLEMES ET LIMITES METHODOLOGIQUES

ment funéraire des immatures à partir d’une documenta- DE L’ETUDE DES SEPULTURES D’IMMATURES
tion aussi faible? Les études sur les pratiques funéraires EN GRECE
proposent souvent des conclusions qui semblent bien
audacieuses et définitives en regard du corpus. L’objet de Le manque de représentativité des données funéraires
cette communication est donc de présenter les données
archéologiques et de s’interroger sur la validité des La faiblesse du nombre de sépultures n’est pas spécifique
interprétations ou sur les présupposés qui y sont parfois aux immatures: on connaît moins de 500 tombes pour
attachés. l’ensemble du Néolithique en Grèce (Cavanagh & Mee
(1998, 6) en recensaient 400, sans prendre la Crète en
La question essentielle que je me pose au sujet du considération). Ce nombre est bien entendu infime par
traitement funéraire des immatures est celle de sa rapport à la population de morts “réelle”3. La question de
spécificité: les enfants morts faisaient-ils l’objet des l’invisibilité des tombes néolithiques a ainsi été soulevée
mêmes pratiques funéraires que les adolescents et les à plusieurs reprises (Treuil 1987, 11-14; Cavanagh & Mee
adultes? La détermination d’une éventuelle différencia- 1998, 6; Perlès 2001, 273). La géomorphologie de
tion en fonction de l’âge dans le recrutement funéraire est certaines régions grecques, et surtout les hasards des
fondée sur le postulat que les immatures devraient former fouilles, expliquent partiellement ces faibles effectifs.
environ 50 % d’une population funéraire, selon le schéma Dans le Nord de la Grèce, plusieurs mètres d’alluvions
de mortalité archaïque auquel se conforment les popula- recouvrent ainsi vraisemblablement les ensembles funé-
tions anciennes (Sellier 1996).
Par nécessité, ces regroupements sont fondés sur les catégories utilisées
1 dans les études paléoanthropologiques portant sur le monde égéen, en
Je me suis permis d’emprunter ce titre à J. Guilaine (introduction à
Chambon 2005). Cet article s’inscrit dans une étude diachronique menée particulier Triantaphillou 2001, 36 & 2005, 68. La classe des petits
dans le cadre d’une thèse de doctorat d’archéologie intitulée “Les enfants correspond à celle des “infants”.
enfants du Néolithique à la période géométrique dans le monde égéen”, C. Masset a démontré qu’un village de 200 habitants dont l’espérance
sous la direction de R. Treuil, université de Paris I-Sorbonne. J’adresse de vie avoisinerait 25 ans, utilisant un cimetière pendant 500 ans,
mes remerciements à ce dernier, ainsi qu’à V. Chankowski, pour leur “produirait” 800 décès par siècle. On attendrait donc 4000 inhumations
relecture et leurs remarques. pour ce seul village (Masset 1987, 115).


Fig. 6.1. Sites mentionés dans le texte

raires situés dans les plaines. Les seuls cimetières et/ou qu’ils ne reçurent pas de sépulture matériellement
identifiés y furent découverts fortuitement, lors de travaux formalisée.
de drainage profonds (Gallis 1982, 10; Treuil 1987, 12-
13; Alram-Stern 1996, 113). En outre, un très faible L’échantillon funéraire disponible pour la Grèce néolithi-
nombre de sites néolithiques a été fouillé de manière que correspond donc à une part infime de la population de
systématique et exhaustive. La nature des explorations cette période. Le problème de sa représentativité se pose
archéologiques et de la sédimentation naturelle ne de manière encore plus aiguë dans le cas spécifique des
constituent toutefois pas des facteurs d’explication tombes d’enfants: il est en effet avéré que leurs cadavres
suffisants à l’échelle de la péninsule, ce d’autant moins reçoivent en général des aménagements funéraires peu
que les fouilles se sont multipliées ces dernières années. visibles, moins profondément enfouis et moins protec-
Un choix culturel, délibéré, doit donc être postulé: la teurs que ceux des adultes (Bello et al. 2006, 29 et 31-32).
majeure partie des morts néolithiques est invisible parce De plus, l’état de préservation des ossements est
qu’ils n’étaient pas enterrés (ou pas de manière définitive) proportionnel à l’âge: les squelettes de la classe des 0-4


ans se désintègrent plus rapidement que ceux des sujets LES SEPULTURES D’IMMATURES
plus âgés (Bello et al. 2006, 36). L’interprétation de NEOLITHIQUES EN GRECE
l’absence des sépultures d’enfants doit donc prendre en
considération des facteurs géographiques, archéologiques Néolithique Ancien
et culturels, mais aussi l’action taphonomique et la
conservation différentielle des ossements. Le choix et la Pour le Néolithique Ancien, l’habitat de Néa Nikomédia
hiérarchisation de ces critères pour chaque site sont concentre la moitié des effectifs d’immatures, en dépôt
nécessaires, mais le plus souvent subjectifs en raison de primaire et secondaire (ca. 40 sujets : Angel 1973, 103 et
l’insuffisance des données contextuelles. 105 individus au total sont recensés, dont 35 en position
primaire). Le nombre d’enfants ensevelis dans cette zone
(22, dont 9 nouveau-nés) est sensiblement identique à
L’INSUFFISANCE DES EXAMENS celui des adultes. La représentation des hommes et des
ANTHROPOLOGIQUES EN GRECE femmes y est aussi numériquement comparable. Cela
infirme l’idée de I. Hodder selon laquelle les sépultures en
L’anthropologie physique, indispensable pour raisonner zone domestique étaient essentiellement destinées aux
sur le paramètre de l’âge au décès et le recrutement femmes et aux enfants, et auraient ainsi reflétées leur
funéraire, est un domaine d’étude relativement récent en relation privilégiée à l’espace domestique (Hodder 1990,
Grèce, et encore peu développé. J.L. Angel, pionnier dans 51). Deux sépultures triples sont rapportées: la première
cette discipline, a examiné une quantité importante de rassemble deux enfants et un nouveau-né, la seconde deux
matériel osseux issu de fouilles américaines diverses dès enfants et un adulte. Dans ce dernier cas, les squelettes
les années 1950-1960. Mais l’anthropologue était alors étaient soigneusement disposés, l’adulte semblant enlacer
guidé, comme tous ses collègues à l’époque, par un l’un des deux immatures qui lui faisaient face. L’inven-
questionnement spécifique, lié à la recherche de l’origine teur a identifié l’adulte comme une femme, mais l’exa-
des Grecs. Il a ainsi parfois limité son étude à men anthropologique n’a pu confirmer cette détermination
l’observation de la morphologie des crânes, ignorant les (Rodden 1962, 286, Pl. XLII5). La disposition volontaire
petits ossements parmi lesquels les chances de de ces corps suggère seulement l’existence de relations
rencontrer les restes d’immatures étaient plus élevées. familiales entre ces défunts. Ces deux occurrences de
Les premiers examens anthropologiques systématiques sépultures multiples pourraient être le résultat de morts
d’échantillons funéraires datent des années 1980 en simultanées, dues à des épidémies, qui touchent naturelle-
Grèce, et il ne s’agit pas encore d’une pratique ré- ment surtout les immatures6.
pandue4. Or, de nombreux sites grecs furent fouillés dès
la fin du XIXe s. ou dans la première moitié du XXe s. Le traitement funéraire des enfants et des adultes observé
Les conditions de fouille alors en usage et le désintérêt à Néa Nikomédia, très peu différencié selon l’âge et le
pour les vestiges osseux ont ainsi conduit à la perte sexe, est comparable à celui de Karanovo7 en Bulgarie ou
presque totale d’informations pour plusieurs gisements de Menteşe dans le Nord-Ouest de l’Anatolie (Bacvarov
funéraires, malgré les observations ponctuelles de 2000; Bailey 2000, 122; Alpaslan-Roodenberg 2001;
certains archéologues. Roodenberg et al. 2003, 22). Sur les autres sites grecs, où
les surfaces fouillées sont réduites, seules une à quatre
Avant d’examiner et d’interpréter les données archéo- sépultures d’immatures sont attestées dans les zones
logiques, il faut donc être conscient que, le plus souvent, habitées, à Argissa en Thessalie, Axos Giannitsôn en
seules des sépultures “marginales”, potentiellement Macédoine, Aghios Pétros dans les Sporades et Lerne
exceptionnelles, nous sont parvenues (Chambon 2005, 24- dans le Péloponnèse. Un groupe de six nouveau-nés et
27). petits enfants découvert dans l’habitat le plus ancien de
Cnossos a d’abord été interprété comme un “dépôt de
L’addition de ces données ponctuelles ne permet pas de fondation”, mais les indices matériels manquent pour
restituer les modes de sépultures, et encore moins les rites étayer cette hypothèse rituelle (Evans 1964, 138): une
funéraires pour l’ensemble du Néolithique: les données septième sépulture d’immature, située à quelques mètres,
fragmentaires mises “bout à bout” risquent de créer un pourrait indiquer qu’il s’agit de simples sépultures en
ensemble composite, qui estompe artificiellement les contexte d’habitat, comparables aux autres occurrences
contrastes et les ruptures régionales et chronologiques. égéennes. Il s’agirait toutefois du seul site sur lequel les
S’il me semble nécessaire d’exprimer ces précautions, ce ensevelissements en zone domestique étaient réservés aux
n’est pas pour abandonner toute tentative d’interpréter les
tombes d’enfants. Il est en effet possible de faire émerger Les examens anthropologiques n’étaient pas encore réalisés lors de la
certains traits récurrents du traitement funéraire des rédaction de son rapport.
immatures; en inférer des conclusions sociales semble en Angel, qui avait repéré de nombreuses cribra orbitalia sur les crânes
des adultes et des immatures, les mettait en relation avec des anémies,
revanche prématuré. selon lui causées par la malaria (1973, 103-104). Les sépultures
multiples n’étaient donc pas “réservées” aux enfants, comme le postule
4 Fowler 2004, 40 ; elles ne traduisent que leur surmortalité.
Les fouilles de sauvetage qui se multiplient ne permettent pas au
service archéologique grec d’assurer ce type d’examen pour toutes les À Karanovo, les immatures ne sont prédominants que pendant la
opérations. première phase d’occupation (NA) (Bacvarov 2000).


enfants, même si la faible superficie explorée empêche des immatures a fait l’objet d’un traitement funéraire
d’en être assuré. primaire semblable à celui d’adultes. En outre, seuls deux
défunts avaient reçu un mobilier, parmi lesquels un
Sur le continent, hors de Néa Nikomédia, des sépultures nouveau-né accompagné d’un bol de marbre miniature, un
isolées d’adultes apparaissent aussi sporadiquement près objet rare et certainement luxueux à Franchti.
de bâtiments (A Sesklo, Souphli Magoula et Képhalov-
rysso en Thessalie). À l’exception de Cnossos, aucune Non loin, dans la grotte de Prosymna, un immature se
différentiation funéraire n’est perceptible en fonction de trouvait parmi les six sujets partiellement incinérés et en
l’âge: enfants et adultes reposaient en général dans des dépôt secondaire. Les restes osseux n’ont pas été
fosses simples ou des fosses à détritus en remploi, et le examinés par un anthropologue (Blegen 1937, 27). Enfin,
mobilier était absent ou indigent. L’usage d’un récipient en Grèce septentrionale, deux petits enfants ont été
en terre-cuite comme contenant funéraire n’est attesté que inhumés dans l’habitat de Liménaria (Thasos) et dans
pour un nouveau-né, à Axos Giannitsôn. Comme à Anza, celui de Makri en Thrace (Malamidou & Papadopoulos
cette pratique est exceptionnelle (Chrysosomou 1996, 1993, 564-565; Touchais 1998, 902). Ces dernières ne
162-164; Gimbutas 1976, 412). Si elle ne s’y applique reflètent pas non plus un traitement spécifique en fonction
qu’à des nouveau-nés, c’est peut-être en raison, d’une de l’âge, si l’on prend en considération les tombes
part, de la faible production céramique et, d’autre part, d’adultes isolées aussi recensées dans d’autres habitats du
des dimensions réduites des vases en terre cuite du Péloponnèse et de Macédoine (Treuil 1983, 428-429;
Néolithique Ancien ; leur hauteur ne dépasserait normale- Pappa 1993, 304). Hors de Franchti où cette pratique
ment pas 30 cm (Perlès 2001, 214 et 217). paraît plus répandue, une petite fraction d’immatures et
d’adultes était donc ensevelie dans les zones domestiques,
Un seul ensemble funéraire aménagé hors de l’habitat est comme au Néolithique Ancien. Les critères présidant au
documenté: la petite nécropole de Souphli Magoula choix de ces défunts nous échappent complètement.
rassemblait 15 tombes à incinération et deux inhumations
(Gallis 1982; certaines sépultures devraient peut-être être
rattachées au NM, Perlès 2001, 274; Cavanagh & Mee NEOLITHIQUE RECENT
1998, 8). Les immatures (un petit enfant, un enfant
inhumé de 6-8 ans et un adolescent) sont sous- Au Néolithique Récent, des sépultures isolées d’enfants
représentés, mais l’âge au décès de cinq sujets ne put être proviennent des habitats d’Alepochori en Laconie, de
déterminé et pourrait expliquer ce biais (Xirotiris dans Sarakinos en Eubée, d’Elatée en Grèce centrale, et de
Gallis 1982, 199). Le dépôt de biens ou d’offrandes Rachmani en Thessalie. Au moins quatre immatures, ainsi
semble en revanche conditionné par l’âge, puisque seul qu’un à trois adultes, furent inhumés dans la zone
l’adolescent et les adultes étaient accompagnés de d’habitat de Lerne (Caskey 1958, 136; 1959, 205). Les
récipients et d’ossements animaux, probables restes tombes d’un petit enfant, d’un adolescent et de deux
d’offrandes alimentaires. adultes proviennent de l’habitat de Stavroupolis, à
Thessalonique (Triantaphyllou 2002, 836-838; 2004,
614). Une sépulture secondaire plus élaborée, réunissant
NEOLITHIQUE MOYEN un enfant et un adulte sous un petit tumulus, a été mise au
jour dans l’habitat d’Haghia Sophia en Thessalie
La documentation est extrêmement lacunaire pour le (Milojčić et al. 1976, 6-7; le tumulus d’argile était sur-
Néolithique Moyen. Un seul site a fourni plus d’une monté d’une cuvette contenant des cendres). Enfin, huit
sépulture d’immature: dans la grotte de Franchti, 16 sépultures d’enfants à incinération et une à inhumation se
enfants furent inhumés dans des fosses ; des ossements trouvaient dans l’habitat de Dimini (Hourmouziadis 1982,
humains désarticulés appartenant à une vingtaine 81; Adrymi-Sismani 1989, 226). Il s’agit du seul site pour
d’individus étaient par ailleurs dispersés sur le site, dans lequel on peut supposer que l’ensevelissement était
la grotte et sur la paralia (Jacobsen & Cullen 1981; réservé aux jeunes enfants dans l’habitat, les adolescents
Cullen 1999; Vitelli 1993, 43; une partie des sépultures et adultes étant manifestement ensevelis ailleurs; une
pourrait être rattachée au Néolithique Ancien). Alors que unique tombe, d’adulte, est rapportée pour l’habitat de
les immatures sont bien représentés dans les inhumations Pevkakia (Weisshaar 1989, 11). En Égée orientale, cette
primaires, dont ils constituent la moitié, ils sont peu différenciation spatiale apparaît à Bakla Tepe, près
nombreux au sein de l’échantillons d’ossements dispersés. d’Izmir, où un grand nombre de sépultures, appartenant
Ces derniers résultent-ils d’une pratique funéraire exclusivement à des nourrissons, est localisé dans
secondaire volontaire ? Si c’est le cas, les enfants en l’habitat8.
étaient peut-être exclus, mais il est plus vraisemblable que
leurs ossements plus fragiles se soient dissous lors de leur Des ossements disloqués, formant des petits effectifs, ont
exposition à la surface du sol. Le même facteur par ailleurs été découverts dans les zones domestiques de
d’explication est valable pour Néa Nikomédia au plusieurs sites de Macédoine (phase du NR II à Makri-
Néolithique Ancien, où aucun ossement de nouveau-né gialos, avec 12 individus; une dizaine d’individus à
n’est recensé parmi les ossements dispersés dans l’habitat
(Angel 1973, 103). Il est au moins assuré qu’une partie 8


Stavroupolis) et dans les grottes habitées de Kitsos en revanche, seul un enfant de moins de 6 ans est rapporté
Attique (18 individus), de Skoteini à Tharrounia en Eubée pour la petite nécropole de Tharrounia, en Eubée. Les
(14 individus), et de Kalythies à Rhodes (20 individus). immatures de plus de 6 ans sont bien représentés et
Les immatures sont représentés dans des proportions forment 25 % des effectifs, comptant 25 individus
variables, formant seulement 17 % de l’échantillon à (Sampson 1993, 239; Stravopodi 1993, 384). La sous-
Makrigialos mais 55 % à Kitsos ; à Skoteini, ils sont représentation des jeunes enfants doit y être mise en
prédominants, puisque neuf des 14 sujets identifiés étaient parallèle avec la découverte des ossements d’immatures
des immatures (Stravopodi 1993, 381). Le mode de dans la grotte située à proximité, évoquée plus haut. Elle
sépulture pratiqué n’est pas clair. Comme à Franchti au pourrait traduire une différenciation des espaces
NM, il n’est pas toujours sûr que l’on soit en présence funéraires, sans codification stricte car “l’âge-limite”
d’un rite funéraire secondaire: la perturbation involontaire semble flou. Des “pré-adolescents” étaient aussi inhumés
de sépultures antérieures par les habitants pourrait dans la grotte (Stravopodi 1993, 381).
expliquer la fragmentation et la dissémination des
ossements. A Kalythies seulement, la prédominance des Enfin, dans la nécropole thessalienne à incinération de
petits ossements (provenant des mains et des pieds) et de Platia Magoula Zarkou, les immatures, parmi lesquels
dents de 13 sujets adultes suggère la pratique d’un dépôt sept petits enfants, représentent au moins 25 % de la
secondaire des sépultures à l’extérieur de la grotte, après population funéraire (Gallis 1982, 215). Ce pourcentage
la “vidange” de leurs squelettes, peut-être à l’occasion est relativement important, si l’on considère que l’âge au
d’un changement de fonction du lieu. Selon cette pratique, décès de 39 individus seulement put être déterminé, pour
seuls les os longs et ceux du crâne auraient été collectés 67 tombes fouillées. Le regroupement de deux à six urnes
pour être déposés ailleurs (Halstead & Jones 1987, 138- cinéraires contenant des individus d’âges divers était
139). Halstead et Jones proposent à partir de l’examen des peut-être fondé sur leurs relations familiales.
restes fauniques une occupation saisonnière de la grotte
(1987, 143-145). La présence de quelques os longs de À l’exception de Tharrounia, les immatures semblent
jeunes enfants (au moins 7 individus) indique qu’ils ne donc bien intégrés dans ces espaces funéraires formels et
firent pas l’objet du même traitement et furent laissés distincts de l’habitat. On connaît trop rarement l’habitat et
dans la grotte. Doit-on l’interpréter comme le témoignage le cimetière d’un même site pour esquisser un tableau
d’une pratique différenciée, traduisant une relation général des pratiques. Toutefois, on ne distingue nulle
particulière entre les sépultures d’enfants et l’espace part une différenciation aussi stricte que sur le site de
domestique? Ou bien montre-t-elle seulement que leurs Bakla Tepe, près d’Izmir, où la nécropole était
petits ossements, désarticulés, n’ont pas été reconnus exclusivement réservée aux tombes d’adultes9.
comme des restes humains lors d’une réoccupation de la
La spécificité des sépultures d’enfants se manifeste
essentiellement au NR par le type de tombe et le
La grotte d’Alepotrypa (Magne messénien) et des fossés traitement des corps: le dépôt du cadavre dans un vase
creusés autour de l’habitat de Makrigialos au NR I devient une pratique spécifique aux jeunes enfants et
comprenaient les ossements de plusieurs dizaines nouveau-nés dans le Sud du monde égéen, même si ce
d’individus, le plus souvent désarticulés. Il s’agit alors mode de sépulture ne concerne jamais l’ensemble de cette
d’ossuaires séparés de l’habitat. Les immatures y sont classe d’âge. Des sépultures à enchytrisme apparaissent
relativement bien représentés. Ils constituent 20 % des dans les habitats comme dans la nécropole de Képhala. Il
effectifs à Makrigialos et 50 % à Alepotrypa. Le mode de s’agit généralement de récipients issus de la vaisselle
dépôt, primaire ou secondaire, n’est pas toujours clair, domestique et commune, mais certaines sépultures sont
mais les enfants, même nouveau-nés, y recevaient remarquables: dans la grotte d’Alepochori, un nouveau-né
apparemment un traitement funéraire comparable à celui reposait dans un vase de céramique fine, lui-même placé
des adultes. dans une jarre dont l’ouverture était soigneusement
obturée. Les autres sépultures mises au jour dans la grotte
Les nécropoles de tombes construites, séparées de ne sont représentées que par des ossements humains
l’habitat, se développent au Néolithique Récent, mais désarticulés (Kontaxi et al. 1989, 25). À Platia Magoula
trois d’entre elles seulement fournissent des données sig- Zarkou, où les restes osseux brûlés se trouvaient
nificatives. Celle de Képhala, sur l’île de Kéa, est normalement dans des jarres ou des bols, la sépulture d’un
composée de tombes à sépultures collectives ou individu- enfant fut déposée dans un vase zoomorphe. Ce récipient
elles, primaires ou secondaires, comprenant une soixan- portait des marques d’usure et de cassure antérieures
taine d’individus. Des immatures de tous âges y sont (Gallis 1982, 99-101). Il constitue pour cette période le
recensés (30 % de la population funéraire), et reposaient seul objet – non périssable – qui paraît avoir été fabriqué
le plus souvent avec des adultes, ou dans des tombes pour l’enfant et utilisé par lui, peut-être dans ses
identiques, mais plus petites. Deux nouveau-nés font jeux, avant sa mort. En revanche, à Képhala comme à
partie des effectifs, bien qu’Angel n’ait pas observé tous Platia Magoula Zarkou, ni les figurines ni les vases
les petits fragments d’ossements, ce qui conduit naturelle-
ment à une sous-représentation de cette classe d’âge 9
Le rapport en ligne ne précise pas le nombre de sépultures:
(Coleman 1977, 44-51 et 64; Angel 1977, 134). En


miniatures ne peuvent être corrélés aux sépultures de biens, ou que l’absence “d’identité sociale” reconnue
d’enfants, contra Fowler, qui établit des corrélations entre pour ces individus conduisait à les ensevelir plus
le type de mobilier et l’âge des défunts, en se fondant sur simplement.
des données incertaines ou erronées (Fowler 2004, 58-
59). Le don ponctuel d’objets de valeur à de jeunes enfants
suggère un système héréditaire de transmission du statut,
Sur plusieurs sites, le traitement du corps par même si on ne peut exclure d’autres critères
l’incinération paraît réservé aux immatures: à Dimini, où d’explication. Il semble que les enfants étaient bien
l’on ignore tout du mode de sépulture des adultes, insérés, et relativement tôt, dans le groupe social, mais
l’incinération des seuls enfants dans l’habitat pourrait leurs tombes ne permettent pas de cerner la place qu’ils
contribuer à biaiser notre impression. En outre, il ne occupaient dans la société néolithique. Les rares dépôts
semble pas que les restes osseux aient fait l’objet d’une funéraires associés ne témoignent pas de l’existence d’une
analyse scientifique, ce qui pose même la question de culture matérielle enfantine spécifique. Dans l’état actuel
l’identification d’immatures. En revanche, à Makrigialos de la documentation, le traitement funéraire relativement
et à Alepotrypa, où plusieurs dizaines de sépultures ont indifférencié en fonction de l’âge, par rapport à des
été identifiées, respectivement un et deux petits enfants régions environnantes (Bulgarie et Anatolie), évoque une
seulement furent incinérés. D’autres immatures d’âge société moins hiérarchisée, mais il ne peut être
comparable étaient inhumés, ce qui indique que directement mis en relation avec une organisation sociale
l’incinération ne dépendait pas seulement du critère de particulière.
l’âge, mais aussi d’un choix familial ou du statut social de
cette dernière, ou encore des causes du décès. À L’immense majorité des adultes et des enfants nés et
Stavroupolis, la seule incinération est celle d’un adulte, ce morts pendant la période néolithique, aujourd’hui invisib-
qui montre que le facteur de sélection prédominant n’était les, faisait-elle aussi l’objet d’un traitement funéraire
pas l’âge. Il est en outre peu probable que le critère indifférencié? Nos conclusions partielles, forcément
déterminant dans le Sud du Péloponnèse corresponde prématurées (sic), seront certainement modifiées par les
exactement à celui qui a prévalu pour l’enfant incinéré en résultats de fouilles futures, dont on doit espérer qu’elles
Piérie. Le caractère exceptionnel de la sépulture à seront exhaustives, incluront le tamisage de tout le sédi-
incinération d’enfants d’Alepotrypa y est par ailleurs ment issu des tombes, et la présence d’un anthropologue
souligné par les biens associés: les ossements étaient sur le terrain. Alors seulement disposera-t-on de morts
recouverts de fragments de vases en céramique fine, plus fiables.
brûlés, et de perles en pierre et en os finement travaillées.
Cette sépulture reflète donc probablement des gestes
rituels complexes. Hormis ce cas, les défunts étaient le References
plus souvent ensevelis au Néolithique Récent sans aucun
bien en matériau non périssable, et les enfants ont ADRYMI-SISMANI V. 1989. Διμήνι. Αρχαιολογικόν
globalement reçu encore moins de mobilier que les Δελτίον 44: 225-226.
adultes. ALPASLAN-ROODENBERG, S. 2001. Newly Found
Human Remains from Menteşe in the Yenişehir Plain.
The Season of 2000. Anatolica 27: 1-14.
ALRAM-STERN, E. 1996. Die Ägäische Frühzeit, 2.
Cette revue des rares sépultures d’immatures néolithiques Serie, 1. Band das Neolithikum in Griechenland mit
appelle quelques remarques. En premier lieu, les pratiques Ausnahme von Kreta und Zypern. Vienne: Verlag der
funéraires sont peu différenciées en fonction de l’âge dans öseterreichischer Akademie der Wissenschaften.
les espaces funéraires les plus représentatifs. La ANGEL, J.L. 1973. Early Neolithic People of Nea
variabilité du traitement des enfants morts s’accroît au Nikomedia, in I. Schwidetsky (ed.) Die Anfänge des
Néolithique Récent. La sous-représentation ou l’absence Neolithikums vom Orient bis Nordeuropa, VIII: 103-
de jeunes enfants parmi les échantillons de sépultures 112.
secondaires du NR pourrait s’expliquer par la dissolution ANGEL, J.L. 1977. Appendix 5: Human skeletons, in J.E.
de leurs ossements, mais l’exemple de Kalythies montre Coleman. Keos I, Kephala. A Late Neolithic Settle-
qu’un traitement différencié était parfois appliqué. De ment and Cemetery. Princeton: American School of
même, l’usage de contenants funéraire en terre cuite ou de Classical Studies: 133-156.
l’incinération pour certains nouveau-nés et petits enfants
au NR est déterminée par leur âge, mais aussi par d’autres BACVAROV, K. 2000. The Karanovo Neolithic
critères (affectifs, rituels, pathologiques ou économi- Mortuary Practices in their Balkan and Anatolian
ques?). Le dépôt de mobilier, très sporadique, est le plus context, in S. Hiller & V. Nikolov (Hrsg.) Karanovo,
souvent conditionné par l’appartenance au groupe d’âge III. Beiträge zum Neolithikum in Südosteuropa. Wien:
des adolescents et des adultes: seuls ces derniers étaient Phoibos, 137-140.
parfois ensevelis avec des objets personnels ou avec des BAILEY, D.W. 2000. Balkan Prehistory. Exclusion,
offrandes. Cela suggère que les enfants ne possédaient pas Incorporation and Identity. London: Routledge.


BELLO, S.M., A. THOMANN, M. SIGNOLI, O. (eds.) Mortality and Immortality. The Anthropology
DUTOUR & P. ANDREWS 2006. Age and Sex Bias and Archaeology of Death: 79-101. London: Aca-
in the Reconstruction of Past Population Structures. demic Press.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology 129: 24- KONTAXI, X., E. KONTZAMBOPOULOU &
36. E. STRAVOPODI. 1989. Προκαταρκτική έκθεση
BLEGEN, C.W. 1937. Prosymna, the Helladic Settlement ανασκαφών στην “Α΄ Κουβελέικη σπηλιά” Αλεπο-
preceding the Argive Heraeum. Cambridge: Univer- χωρίου Λακωνίας. Aρχαιολογικά Ανάλεκτα εξ Αθηνών
sity Press. 22: 21-29.
CASKEY, J.L. 1958. Excavations at Lerna, 1957. MALAMIDOU, D. & S. PAPADOPOULOS 1993.
Hesperia 27: 125-145. Ανασκαφική έρευνα στον προϊστορικό οικισμό

CAVANAGH, W.G. & C. MEE. 1998. A Private Place: Λιμεναρίων Θάσου. Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη
Death in Prehistoric Greece. Jonsered: Paul Aströms Μακεδονία και Θράκη 7: 559-572.
Förlag (SIMA CXXV). MASSET, C. 1987. Le “recrutement” d’une ensemble
funéraire, in H. Duday & C. Masset (eds.)
CHAMBON, P. 2005. Des morts aux vivants. Population
Anthropologie physique et archéologie. Méthode
et société au Néolithique, in J. Guilaine (dir.)
d’étude des sépultures: 111-134. Paris: CNRS.
Populations néolithiques et environnements: 21-40.
CHRYSOSTOMOU, P. 1996. Η Νεολιθική κατοίκηση
Die Deutschen Ausgrabungen auf Magulen um
στη Βόρεια πάρακτια ζώνη του άλλοτε Θερμαϊκού
Larissa in Thessalien 1966. Bonn: Habelt.
κόλπου. Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία και
Θράκη 10: 159-172. PAPPA, M. 1993. Νεολιθική εγκατάσταση στο χώρο της
διεθνούς ΄Εκθεσης Θεσσαλονίκης. Το Αρχαιολογικό
COLEMAN, J.E. 1977. Keos I, Kephala. A Late Neolithic Έργο στη Μακεδονία και Θράκη 7: 303-310.
Settlement and Cemetery. Princeton: American School
of Classical Studies. PERLÈS, C. 2001. The Early Neolithic in Greece.
Cambridge: University Press.
CULLEN, T. 1999. Scattered Human Bones at Franchti
Cave: remnants of Ritual or Refuse?, in P.P. RODDEN, R.J. 1962. Excavations at the Early Neolithic
Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur & W.D. Site at Nea Nikomedeia, Greek Macedonia. Proce-
Niemeier (eds.) Meletemata, Studies in Aegean edings of the Prehistoric Society 28: 267-288.
Archaeology presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as he ROODENBERG, J., A. VAN AS, JACOBS, L. & M.H.
enters his 65th Year: 165-170. Liège: Université de WIJNEN. Early Settlement in the Plain of Yenisehir
Liège (Aegaeum 20). (NW Anatolia). The Basal Occupation Layers at
EVANS, J.D. 1964. Excavations in the Neolithic Mentese. Anatolica 29: 17-60.
settlement of Knossos, 1957-1960. Part I. Bulletin of SAMPSON, A. 1993. Σκοτεινή Θαρρουνίων. Athènes:
the British School at Athens 59:136-240. Dpt of Paleoanthropology-Speleology.
FOWLER, K.D. 2004. Neolithic Mortuary Practices in SELLIER, P. 1996. La mise en évidence d’anomalies
Greece. Oxford: Archaeopress (B.A.R. International démographiques et leur interprétation: population,
Series 1314). recrutement et pratiques funéraires du tumulus de
Courtesoult, in J.F. Piningre (ed.) Nécropoles et
GALLIS, Κ. 1982. Καύσεις νεκρών από τη Νεολιθική
sociétés au premier âge du Fer: le tumulus de
εποχή στη Θεσσαλία. Athènes: TAPA.
Courtesoult: 188-202. Paris: Maison des Sciences de
GIMBUTAS, M. 1976. Neolithic Macedonia as reflected l’Homme (Documents d’Archéologie française 54).
by excavation at Anza, Southeast Yougoslavia. Los
STRAVOPODI, E. 1993. An Anthropological Assess-
Angeles: the University of California (Monumenta
ment of the Human Findings from the Cave and the
Archaeologica 1).
Cemetery, in A. Sampson. Σκοτεινή Θαρρουνίων:
HALSTEAD, P. et G. JONES. 1987. Bioarchaeological 378-391. Athènes: Dpt of Paleoanthropology-Speleo-
remains from Kalythies Cave, Rhodes, in A. Sampson, logy.
Η Νεολιθική περίοδος στα Δωδεκάνησα: 135-145. TOUCHAIS G. 1998. Chroniques des fouilles et
Athènes: TAPA. découvertes archéologiques en Grèce en 1996 et 1997.
HODDER, I. 1990. The Domestication of Europe. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 122: 705-988.
Oxford: Blackwell. TREUIL, R. 1987. Où sont donc les tombes néolithi-
HOURMOUZIADIS, G.H. 1982. Αρχαία Μαγνησία: Από ques?, in R. Laffineur (ed.) Thanatos. Les coutumes
τις παλαιολιθικές σπηλιές στο ανάκτορο της funéraires en Egée à l’âge du bronze, Actes du
Δημητριάδας. Athènes: Capon. colloque de Liège (21-23 avril 1986): 11-13. Liège:
JACOBSEN, T.W. & T. CULLEN 1981. A Consideration Université de Liège (Aegaeum 1).
of Mortuary Practices in Neolithic Greece: Burials TRIANTAPHYLLOU, S. 2001. A Bioarchaeological
from Franchti Cave, in S.C. Humphreys & H. King approach to Prehistoric Cemetery Populations from


Central and Western Greek Macedonia. Oxford: VITELLI, K.D. 1993. Franchti Neolithic Pottery, 1:
Archaeopress (B.A.R. International Series 976). Classification and Ceramic Phases 1 and 2.
TRIANTAPHYLLOU, S. 2002. Πρώτα αποτελέσματα
Bloomington: Indiana University Press (Excavations
της οστεολογικής εξέτασης του σκελετικού υλικού at Franchti Cave, Greece 8).
της νεολιθικής θεςής Σταυρούπολης Θεσσαλονίκης. in WEISSHAAR, H-J. 1989. Die Deutschen Ausgrabungen
D.B. Grammenos & S. Kotsos (eds.) Σωστικές auf der Pevkakia-Magula in Thessalien, Das Späte
ανασκαφές στο Νεολιθικό Οικιςμό Σταυρούπολης Neolithikum und das Chalkolithikum. Bonn: Habelt.
Θεσσαλονίκης, I: 829-846. Thessalonique: TAPA.

National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia,

Abstract: Appearing in the early – although probably not the earliest – phases of southeast European neolithization, jar burial
developed in several territorially and chronologically restricted “waves”: Neolithic core area in the Struma and Vardar river valleys
and the west Rhodope Mountains in the beginning of the 6th millennium BC, and later, late/final Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and/or early
Bronze Age – depending on local terminology – examples scattered from Argolis in Greece to the Great Hungarian Plain and dating
from the second half of the 6th to the 3th millennium BC, with huge chronological gaps within. However, their central Anatolian and
Levantine parallels give a solid base for the expanding of our understanding of this obviously cross-cultural phenomenon.
Key words: Southeast Europe, Anatolia, Levant, jar burial, neolithization

Résumé: Les sépultures en vases apparaissent pendant les phases si non les plus anciens, au moins anciens de la néolithisation de
l’Europe du sud-est. Elles se développent en certaines ‘vagues’ qui sont territorialement et chronologiquement restreintes: le noyau
néolithique comprend les vallées des rivières Struma et Vardar et les parties ouest des Rhodopes. Sa position chronologique date au
début de VI millénaire BC. Plus tard, pendant le Néolithique récent/finale et/où Chalcolithique et Bronze Ancien (selon la
terminologie locale), les exemples de ces sépultures se dispersent de l’Argolide en Grèce jusqu’à la grande plaine hongroise. Les
termes chronologiques de ce processus sont: de la deuxième moitié du VI millénaire BC au III millénaire BC avec un grand
intervalle intermédiaire. Ces sépultures trouvent des parallèles en Anatolie centrale et au Levant, ce qui donne une base assez solide
pour étendre notre compréhension sur ce phénomène intra culturelle.
Mots-clés: l’Europe du sud-est, Anatolie, Levant, sépultures en jarre, néolithisation


Southeast European later prehistory yielded a relatively The earliest jar burials thus far found in southeast Europe
scanty mortuary record but one that demonstrates the – and throughout Europe, for that matter – come from
relevance of certain phenomena to the general early Neolithic sites in the Struma and Vardar valleys as
understanding of prehistoric development. Appearing in well as the West Rhodope Mountains, which seems to be
the early phases of southeast European neolithization, the area of neolithization of the southeastern Balkans
although certainly not the earliest ones, jar burial (Nikolov 2007).
developed in several territorially and chronologically
restricted “waves”: a Neolithic core area in the Struma Kovačevo (see Fig. 7.1 for all sites mentioned in the text)
and Vardar river valleys and the west Rhodope Mountains
in the early sixth millennium BC, and later, late/final This stratified site in the Struma River Valley covers an
Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and/or early Bronze Age – area of ca. 7 hectares. It has been excavated since 1980s
depending on local terminology – developments scattered by a joint Bulgarian-French team (Lichardus-Itten et al.
from Argolis in Greece to Transdanubia in Hungary and 2002). The cultural deposits extend to a depth of ca. 2.00
dating from the late sixth to the third millennium BC, meters. The partially destroyed upper layers – Kovačevo
with huge chronological gaps within. Their Anatolian and III and II – contain late Neolithic and early Bronze Age
Levantine parallels give a solid ground to the expanding material. The lower four layers – Kovačevo Ia-Id – belong
of our understanding of this obviously cross-cultural to the early Neolithic and represent a southwestern variant
phenomenon. of the Karanovo I culture. Later periods – Iron Age,
Roman, Middle Ages etc. – are sporadically present.
This paper considers the appearance of early jar burial Different periods could be distinguished within Kovačevo
tradition on the background of southeast European II and III, based on typological observation, since there
neolithization, and traces it back to the primary was no stratigraphic evidence to separate them on the site.
distribution zones, following the directions of its early The four early Neolithic periods are established on the
developments, in a chronological framework spanning the grounds of stratigraphic evidence. Several 14C dates are
Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and the early Bronze Age, in available from the early Neolithic layers, the earliest
terms of southeast Balkan chronology, i.e., the time from being 6075-6005 cal BC for Kovačevo Ia, and the latest
the early sixth to the mid-third millennium BC. For the being 5800-5630 cal BC for Kovačevo Id (Reingruber &
purposes of this paper, the term “jar burial” is defined as Thissen 2005).
primary burial in a ceramic vessel, not to be mistaken
with the contemporaneous secondary and cremation Five burials were found in the Kovačevo I layer, generally
burials that can also use ceramic containers. belonging to the southwestern variant of the Karanovo I


Fig. 7.1. Map showing the location of the sites mentioned in the text: 1 Tel Qatif; 2 Teluliot Batashi; 3 Nahal Zehora II; 4 Tel
Te’o; 5 Tel Dan; 6 Byblos; 7 Tell el-Kerkh; 8 Tell Kurdu; 9 Tell Halula; 10 Tell Hazna II; 11 Tell Sotto; 12 Tell Hassuna; 13 Kösk
Höyük; 14 Pınarbaşı-Bor; 15 Berikldeebi; 16 Alepochori; 17 Lerna; 18 Kephala; 19 Rachmani; 20 Mandalo; 21 Anzabegovo; 22
Kovačevo; 23 Rakitovo; 24 Yunatsite; 25 Nova Zagora; 26 Galabovo; 27 Dyadovo; 28 Ezero; 29 Karanovo; 30 Kran; 31
Durankulak; 32 Mórágy-Tűzkődomb; 33 Alsónyék-Kanizsa-Flur; 34 Polgár 7

culture; two more came from the layer, which the infant, probably a boy, buried in a pot (ca. 30 cm high)
excavators define as middle Neolithic. The burials belong covered with a clay lid. The skeleton was complete; the
to just born or even stillborn infants and children up to 6.5 boy has been buried in a highly flexed position on the
years. They had been interred between houses in a flexed right side, with the head aligned to the north.
or crouched position on the side or in a semi-seated
position, and were aligned with their heads to the east, The second child burial still has to be published. It
west or north. In three of the burials, it is assumed that probably belongs to a very young infant, also buried in a
children had been wrapped up in a thick fabric, most clay pot.
probably a leather bag or a mat. Various contexts in the
site yielded separate fragments of human bones. Rakitovo

Two jar burials were found in the early Neolithic This stratified site in the west Rhodope Mountains was
Kovačevo Id layer. The first burial belongs to a stillborn completely excavated in 1974-1975. It covered an area of


ca. 3300 square meters. The destroyed upper layers A jar burial was found in the Southwestern trench, layer
belonged to the late Neolithic Karanovo III-IV period and IV, horizon V (Karanovo III period), in a shallow pit
probably to the early Neolithic Karanovo I culture. Both under a house floor. The skeletal remains belonged to a
lower layers have been preserved, extending to 0.54 m neonate, covered by a deep dark-burnished bowl with
and 0.80 m depth, respectively. Both of them belonged to channeling. This burial yielded a shell and a retouched
the Karanovo I culture (Raduncheva et al. 2002). flint blade.

The only jar burial was found in Layer II, under the floor More jar burials have been found in the Early Bronze Age
of house # 16, by the western wall. It belonged to a layer; they will be considered separately.
neonate, buried in a fine-ware necked jar. The soil matrix
in the jar yielded grave goods, which is very rare for an Durankulak
early Neolithic infant burial: lumps of red ochre and a
flint blade. The prehistoric cemetery at Durankulak yielded more
than 1200 burials. It was excavated by Henrieta Todorova
Anzabegovo in the 1980s and 1990s and belongs to Hamangia I-II, III
and IV, Varna I and II-III cultures (Todorova 2002).
This stratified site in the Vardar River Valley was
excavated by Milutin Garašanin and Marija Gimbutas in Two jar burials were found there belonging to the
1969-1970 (see Gimbutas 1976; Garašanin 1998, among Hamangia III phase (4950/4900-4650/4600 cal BC),
others). Three early Neolithic layers (Anza III-I) were which has been defined as early Chalcolithic and thus
revealed yielding painted pottery. Anza IV layer is contemporaneous with Maritsa I-III, Dikilitash II, Sitagroi
generally simultaneous to Vinča A. The 14C dates from III, classical Dimini, Boian-Vidra etc.
Anza III-I outline a time framework between 6110 and
5460 cal BC, the relevant dates for Anza Ic showing a The first burial belonged to an infant put in two necked
development right after 5900 cal BC (Reingruber & jars lying horizontally, with the mouths pushed close to
Thissen 2005). each other. Six clay vessels have been deposited upon the
burial with their bottoms up. More sherds covered the
The three early Neolithic layers and the Vinča А layer surface under the burial.
yielded skeletal remains of at least thirty four individuals
– in most cases, separate bones – belonging to seventeen The second infant has been buried in a conical bowl, put
new-born babes and children, five juveniles, and twelve in a larger bowl and covered with a clay lid. A cattle skull
adults. Five inhumations in crouched position were was accompanying this burial.
excavated under house floors in M. Garašanin’s trench.
Infant bones were found in a pit from the Anza Ic layer; Mórágy-Tűzkődomb
the same layer yielded a grave of two young females
buried in crouched position one on the other. This prehistoric cemetery in southern Transdanubia was
excavated by István Zalai-Gaál in the 1980s and belongs
A jar burial was found in the Anza Ic layer. It belonged to to the Lengyel culture (Zalai-Gaál 2002).
a neonate buried in a necked jar, whose four handles have
been broken together with the bottom, most probably Two jar burials were found in the so-called Gräbergruppe-
intentionally. B1. Both belong to boys (0-5 months) buried in high-
pedestalled bowls, crouched on the right side, with their
These four early Neolithic jar burials have been followed, heads aligned to the west or southwest and facing to the
after a chronological gap of several hundred years, by south or northeast respectively. One more high-pede-
certain southeast European later Neolithic develop- stalled bowl contained the skull of a girl (0-5 months).
This Lengyel culture cemetery in southeastern Trans-
This prehistoric tell has been excavated since 1952, most danubia is still being excavated by István Zalai-Gaál, in
recently by a joint Bulgarian-Russian project in the 1960s the framework of M6 motorway salvage project. One jar
and early 1970s (Georgiev et al. 1979). Featuring a base burial has been found thus far containing the remains of
of 200 X 145 meters and 10 meters high, it was occupied an infant, unfortunately destroyed almost completely by a
in the late Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. bulldozer (Zalai-Gaál, pers. comm.).
Layers IV and III belong to the late Neolithic Karanovo
II-III, Karanovo III, Karanovo III-IV and Karanovo IV Polgár 7 (Polgár-Kengyel-kőz)
periods. Two 14C dates are available from the relevant
Karanovo III layer, 5280-5070 and 5430-5280 cal BC This stratified site in the Great Hungarian Plain was
respectively (Görsdorf & Bojadžiev 1996, 137ff). excavated by Pál Raczky in 1994, in the framework of


M3 motorway salvage project. The remains belong to the The only jar burial belonged to an infant in a carinated pot
Alföld Linear Pottery Culture. with two vertical lugs inserted in an open-mouth jar
tapering down to its bottom, with four horizontal lugs on
A jar burial was found in one end of a big – and perhaps the belly. The bottom has been pierced after firing, most
ritual – ditch near a long house of the AVK. The skeletal probably in relation to its funerary use.
remains belonged to an infant, buried in a ca. one meter
high necked knobbed jar (Raczky, pers. comm.). Kephala

Mandalo The site and cemetery of Kephala are located on a head-

land on the northwest coast of the Cycladic island of Keos;
The tell site of Mandalo, Central Macedonia, is situated they represent the best evidence for initial settlement of the
about twenty kilometers NW of the ancient Pella, in the island during the second major colonization of the Aegean
foothills of Mount Paikon; it was excavated between 1981 in the Final Neolithic (3300-3200 BC). They were excava-
and 1988 by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and ted in the 1960s by a team from the University of Cincin-
the Ephoreia of Classical and Prehistoric Antiquities of nati and by John Coleman in the 1970s (Coleman 1977).
Edessa on a large area covering more than 50% of the
site. It was occupied in the final Neolithic and early Four infant jar burials were found in the cemetery, all of
Bronze Age (Papanthimou & Papasteriou 1993; Papa- them disturbed by later interments. One of these burials
efthymiou-Papanthimou & Pilali-Papasteriou 1997). Two belonged to two infants put together in a large jar. Two
burials were found in the final Neolithic layers (14C dated female figurines were discovered as grave goods in
to 4600-4000 cal BC: Kotsakis et al. 1989), a formal another jar burial.
inhumation under a house floor and a child burial in
an open bowl covered with another bowl (both undecora- The latest chronological “wave” in the jar burial develop-
ted). ment refers to the Early Bronze Age and was restricted to
a relatively small area in Upper Thrace, with only one
Rachmani example found in the neighboring region of Thessaly.
However, these were the most numerous cases of jar
This Thessalian tell was excavated by Wace and burials in the later prehistory of southeast Europe.
Thompson in 1910. The cultural deposits extend to a
depth of more than 8 meters and yielded four layers, Yunatsite
belonging to the Final Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
(Wace & Thompson 1912). Two infant jar burials were This prehistoric tell has been excavated by several teams
found there, in layers II and IV respectively. since 1939, including two joint projects, Bulgarian-Russian
and Bulgarian-Greek, the latter still carrying out active
Lerna research there. With a base covering 120 x 115 meters and
a relative height of 12 meters, the tell yielded material da-
This low tell in the foothills of Mount Pontikos, near the ting back to the Middle Ages, the late Thracian period, the
Lerna Lake, on the western coast of Argolis, was late and early Iron Age, the middle and early Bronze Age,
excavated by John L. Caskey in the 1950s and yielded and the late Chalcolithic (Katincharov et al. 1995). 14C dates
layers from the early, late, and final Neolithic as well as between 3010 and 2350 cal BC came from the relevant
the early and middle Bronze Age (Caskey 1957). EBA horizons XVII-X (Görsdorf & Bojadžiev 1996, 158ff).

Five burials came from the early Neolithic layer, all of At Tell Yunatsite, a total of twenty-eight infant burials
them representing formal inhumations in pits and were found in the Early Bronze Age horizons, which refer
containing articulated skeletons in crouched position on to EBA I and II, twenty-two of them being jar burials, all
their sides. A black burnished clay vessel was found near related to houses (see Mishina, this volume). Nineteen jar
the head of a five year old child. burials represented single burials of infants, while three
burials contained the bones of two babies each. Various
The final Neolithic of Lerna II yielded a neonate burial in vessel types were used as burial containers: jugs, bowls,
a patterned beaker found in a layer consisting of pots with or without lugs, or even bottom parts of broken
successive floors of Neolithic houses. vessels. Among these, jugs clearly dominated; pots were
used more rarely. Single infants were buried in amphoras
Alepochori and bowls. All these types are represented in the
household ceramic assemblage of Tell Yunatsite. Some
The Kouveleiki cave is located some 5 km to the south of burial vessels were closed with lids.
Alepochori village in Laconia. Deep archaeological
deposits were accumulated in the both chambers of the Kran
cave: the dates of 4947-3362 BC for the inner chamber,
and 4922-4360 BC for the outer chamber generally refer This small tell site in Upper Thrace, with a base of 80 x
them to the final Neolithic (Kontaxi et al. 2001). 70 meters and 5 meters high, is still being excavated


yielding material from the late Neolithic and Early Bronze with diameters exceeding 30 centimeters, lying on their
Age (Karastoyanova 2004). Five jar burials of babies/fe- sides – and sometimes supported with stones – in pits
tuses have been found under house floors in the EBA III made under house floors and sometimes even under
layers (Nikolov et al. 2005, 36f; Nikolov, pers. comm.). heating installations. The pits’ filling included ashes as
Jugs ca. 45 centimeters high as well pots as have been well as coals and burnt animal bones. At least in one case,
used as burial containers; a flint artifact was found in the the pot has been sealed with a badly fired clay plate.
filling of one burial pit.
Nova Zagora
This is the only EBA stratified site that yielded jar burials.
This is one of the biggest southeast European tells, with a The excavations in the late 1980s and early 1990s covered
preserved base measuring 250 x 180 meters and cultural an area of 1,625 square meters in the NE part of the site.
deposits extending to a height of 12.40 meters. It has been The partially destroyed cultural deposits extend to a depth
excavated since 1936, more recently in the framework of of ca. 1 meter and included four building horizons dating
a Bulgarian-Austrian joint project. Cultural deposits from back to the EBA III period (mid-3rd millennium B.C).
the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age have
been revealed. The latter yielded six jar burials of new Six jar burials of babies have been found under house
born babies and fetuses, all of them under house floors floors or between houses belonging to all four horizons
referring to the EBA III period (Hiller & Nikolov 2002, (Kancheva-Russeva 2000). Although five of the ceramic
11, Abb. 17; Hiller et al. 2005, 13, Abb. 10-11). One of vessels ware too fragile to be preserved, it is clear that big
the burials contained a small flint artifact; in the same pots ca. 30 centimeters high had been used as burial
burial, the mouth of the ceramic vessel was sealed with a containers.
conical bowl and the pit was topped by seven stones,
arranged with their flat sides up, after which its opening At one more tell site in Upper Thrace, Tell Galabovo,
has been plastered. featuring late Chalcolithic, Early, and Middle Bronze Age
layers, a jar burial of a baby was found in the late 1980s,
Dyadovo interred under an EBA III house floor, near an oven
(Panayotov 1991, 34f).
The tell site of Dyadovo has been excavated since 1977
by two joint teams, Bulgarian-Dutch-Japanese and Concluding this general consideration, I should remind of
Bulgarian-Japanese, the latter still continuing the excava- the jar burial from the Thessalian tell of Rachmani,
tions. With a base of 220 x 150 meters, the tell is 18 coming from the EBA horizon IV.
meters high, yielding material from the Middle Ages,
Roman period, Iron Age, Bronze Age, and Copper Age
(Leshtakov 1994). The Early Bronze Age layer contains DISCUSSION
ten horizons belonging to the EBA III Ezero phase. The
results of these recent campaigns have not yet been As seems obvious from the evidence available, the early
published but the preliminary reports mention several jar development of jar burial can be divided into three
burials of infants in the EBA settlement area (e.g. chronologically differentiated ‘waves’ alternating with
Katincharov et al. 1986, 42). periods when this specific ritual has not been practiced.
The area of the Struma and Vardar river valleys, and the
Ezero west Rhodope Mountains in the early 6th millennium BC
– or the early Neolithic according to the southeast Balkan
Since this tell site has already been considered in my periodization – was the only place in Europe where jar
paper, I will detail here only the evidence from the Ezero burial was practiced, at three sites, which shared similar
phase of the EBA III period. During the first excavations cultural developments and ‘Neolithic packages’, whatever
at Tell Ezero in the early 1950s, at least four infant burials the latter term could possibly mean. Moreover, one of the
have been found, at least two of them being jar burials; most authoritative neolithization models considers this
the uncertainty coming from the unrecorded and very territory as the point of first Neolithic penetration as
unpublished excavation project. Big pots have been used well as a contact zone between these early settlers and
as burial containers – 36 and 37 centimeters high their new neighbors in the second phase of the local early
respectively – one of which featuring an intentionally Neolithic (Nikolov 2007). It is thus possible to relate the
pierced bottom, most probably related to the ritual earliest jar burials in southeast Europe – whose appea-
meaning of its secondary function. rance logically followed the phase of early experimenta-
tion with ceramic production and use – to these mutual
The excavations of the joint Bulgarian-Russian team exchange processes and to trace them back to their
revealed ten infant burials in the EBA horizons, at least hypothetic point of origin. In Western Anatolia, however,
three of them being jar burials of infants disposed of in which is considered as the home of early Neolithic
contracted positions (Katincharov 1979, 491, obr. 210). painted pottery cultures in the central Balkans, no jar
Big ceramic pots have been used as burial containers, burials have been found, the closest parallels being the


central Anatolian tell sites of Kösk Höyük and Pınarbaşı- and for a relatively short time influenced culture develop-
Bor, defined as late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic ments as far as the central Balkans; the appearance of this
according to the Anatolian periodization (Silistreli 1989; mortuary practice in the southern Levant followed soon
Öztan 2003). Is this perhaps due to the excavation after. The absence of relevant remains in western and
strategies leaving ‘blind spots’ in our knowledge of the eastern Anatolia – bridged by the two central Anatolian
Neolithic development or there is another reason sites of Kösk Höyük and Pınarbaşı-Bor – could also hint
associated with the directions and routes of the early at southeast European autonomy; however, this can hardly
neolithization? One can find certain hints in the Levan- be substantiated since the four burials in the Struma and
tine influence on life and death at Kösk Höyük most Vardar river valleys, and the west Rhodope Mountains
clearly expressed in the local variant of the ‘skull cult’, share common diagnostics with their Anatolian and
which was observed at that Anatolian tell (Bonogofsky Levantine parallels. What is more plausible is that the
2004). idea of burial of fetus/infant/child in a ceramic pot, as an
element of the social reproduction and cohesion networks,
To the southeast, another huge territorial gap in jar burial was transferred along the neolithization routes and its
practice had been followed by three infant graves at Tell expressions were triggered by certain stimuli, most
Kurdu in the Amuq valley, coming from the Halaf-related probably natural events, as is demonstrated by the burials’
Amuq C phase and dating between 5900 and 5700 cal contemporaneity as well as the sites’ clustering both in
BC., i.e., more or less simultaneously with the southeast southeast Europe and central Anatolia.
European and central Anatolian finds (Yener et al. 2000,
43; Özbal et al. 2004, 50, 70ff). In the later Neolithic and Chalcolithic, jar burial has been
further developed, reoccurring at various settlement sites
In the easternmost and southernmost parts of the study as well as at cemeteries in southeast Europe, sending
area respectively, two territories can be outlined. First, distinct echoes as far as southern Transdanubia (Fig. 7.2).
these are the sites – besides Tell Kurdu – at Tell el-Kerkh, Burial in a ceramic container was to gradually become a
Tell Halula, Tell Hazna II, Tell Sotto, and Tell Hassuna, dominating burial practice in Anatolia and the Levant,
in the northern Levant (Tsuneki et al. 1997, 9f, Pl. 2/1; elaborated in such forms as the pithos burial of adults,
Tsuneki et al. 1999, 18ff; Anfruns & Molist, 1998; e.g., at Ilıpınar in Anatolia, and at Byblos in the southern
Munchaev et al. 1993, 27f, ris. 2/2; 3; Bader 1989, 132ff; Levant. To the north, in the southern Caucasus, a baby jar
Lloyd & Safar 1945, 264, 267f), yielding jar burials burial was found at Berikldeebi, in the Kura River Valley,
related to certain cultural developments starting with the Kareli district, in a pre-Kura-Araxes culture context
pre-Hassuna culture; the coarse ware thick-walled jar (Glonti & Dzhavahishvili 1987, 85).
(with a rim diameter of more than 50 centimeters and
same as high) of the burial from Tell Hazna II belongs to The early development of burial in a ceramic vessel
the most common ceramic ware for the earliest phases of climaxed in the Early Bronze Age, almost completely
Pottery Neolithic in Mesopotamia, which seems to covering Anatolia as well as the Levant, in both its forms,
suggest that this is one of the earliest examples of jar pithoi- and jar burials. To the north, in the southern
burial. The one year old child was buried in a highly Caucasus, a few burials in ceramic vessels appeared at
contracted position on the right side, with the head sites belonging to the Kura-Araxes period in Georgia and
aligned to the east. The skull was lying with the face Dagestan. In southeast Europe, however, the jar burial
down and according to the excavators had been detached area drastically shrank down to a small region in Upper
from the body before the burial. This jar burial yielded Thrace – with one Thessalian exception (Fig. 7.3) –
grave goods: a small clay cup, a half of a polished stone although the number of graves at the various sites much
vessel, and over two hundred beads of stone, copper exceeded the earlier cases, demonstrating once more close
and shells, most probably making up one complete relations to Anatolia and the Levant, also evidenced by
necklace. The jar had been probably covered with a direct ceramic imports as well as local imitations
discoid lid of unbaked clay, fragments of which were (Leshtakov 2002).
found inside.
The southeast European burial patterns, however, strictly
The second area of interest, generally covering the stuck to the original idea of intramural inhumation of
southern Levant, includes the somewhat later Néolithique fetuses/babies only, and never adopted later elaborations
Ancien layers at Byblos (Gopher & Orrelle 1995, 26; see as the Anatolian pithoi burials of adults or the Palestinian
also Orrelle, this volume) as well as the Pottery Neolithic ceramic ossuaries; this fact seems to support the theory of
and Wadi Raba layers at Tel Dan, Tel Te’o, Nahal Zehora the Neolithic origins of this burial practice – repeatedly
II, Teluliot Batashi, and Qatif, that yielded jar burials of stimulated by new eastern impulses – together with some
infants and fetuses (Gopher & Greenberg 1996, 68; Bar- more details such as the occasional flint artifacts found as
Gal & Smith 2001, 164ff; Gopher & Orrelle 1995, 27; grave goods, perhaps related to the ritual of cutting the
Epstein 1984, 210f). baby’s umbilical cord, or the intentional piercing of the
burial vessel’s bottom or damaging its mouth rim, both
It is thus reasonable to assume that jar burial originated in occurring since the first appearance of jar burial in
the northern Levant, sometime in the pre-Hassuna period, southeast Europe as well as in the Levant.


Fig. 7.2. Map showing the jar burial distribution area in the later Neolithic
and Chalcolithic: 1 Alepochori; 2 Lerna; 3 Kephala; 4 Rachmani; 5 Mandalo; 6 Ezero;
7 Durankulak; 8 Mórágy-Tűzkődomb; 9 Alsónyék-Kanizsa-Flur; 10 Polgár 7

Acknowledgments fellowship at the University of Saarland that this paper

has been completed.
Last but not least I would like to thank the following
colleagues who generously supported my project with
unpublished material or information: Gassia Artin, References
Zvonko Beldedovski, István Zalai-Gaál, Stoilka Ignatova,
and Pál Raczky. Special thanks are due to Joni Apakidze ANFRUNS, J. & M. MOLIST 1998. Prácticas funerarias
for sharing with me some of his extensive knowledge on en el Neolítico de Siria. Análisis de los documentos de
the Caucasian prehistory. Thank you to the Alexander von Tell Halula (valle del Éufrates), in J.-L. Cunchillos, J.
Humboldt Foundation; it was during my AvH research M. Galán, J.-A. Zamora, S. Villanueva de Azcona


Fig. 7.3. Map showing the jar burial distribution area in the Early Bronze Age:
1 Rachmani; 2 Yunatsite; 3 Galabovo; 4 Ezero; 5 Dyadovo; 6 Nova Zagora; 7 Karanovo; 8 Kran

(eds.) Actas del Congreso “El Mediterráneo en la CASKEY, J.L. 1957. Excavations at Lerna: 1956.
Antigüedad: Oriente y Occidente” [Sapanu. Publicaci- Hesperia 26: 142-162.
ones en Internet II, http://www.labherm]. COLEMAN, J.E. 1977. Keos, 1. Kephala, a late Neolithic
BADER, N.O. 1989 Древнейшие земледельцы Север- settlement and cemetery. Princeton: American School
ной Месопотамии. Москва. of Classical Studies.
BAR-GAL, K.G. & P. SMITH 2001. The human remains, EISENBERG, E., A. GOPHER & R. GREENBERG
in E. Eisenberg, A. Gopher & R. Greenberg (eds.) Tel 2001. Tel Te’o: A Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early
Te’o: A Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Bronze Age Site in the Hula Valley. Jerusalem: Israel
Settlement in the Hula Valley: 163-169. Jerusalem: Antiquities Authority Reports 13.
Israel Antiquities Authority Reports 13. EPSTEIN, C. 1984. A Pottery Neolithic Site near Tel
BONOGOFSKY, M. 2004. A bioarchaeological study of Qatif. Israel Exploration Journal 34/4: 209-219.
plastered skulls from Anatolia: new discoveries and GARAŠANIN, M. 1998. Kultursrömungen im Neolithi-
interpretations. International Journal of Osteoarcha- kum des südlichen Balkanraumes. Prähistorische
eology 15/2: 124-135. Zeitschrift, 73/1: 25-51.


ROV & D. DIMITROV (eds.) 1979. Езеро: Ранно- BOPODI 2001. Προκαταρκτικη Εκθση Ανασκαφων
бронзовото селище. София: Българска академия на Στην Α΄ Κουβελεικη Σπηλαια Αλεποχωριου
науките. Λακωνιας. Αρχαιολογικα αναλεκτα εξ Αθηνων, 2000-
GIMBUTAS, M. (ed.) 1976. Neolithic Macedonia as 2001: 21-30.
Reflected by Excavations at Anza, Southern Yugosla- KOTSAKIS, K., A. PAPANTHIMIOU-PAPAEFTHIMIOU,
via. (Monumenta Archaeologica, 1). Los Angeles: A. PILALI-PAPASTERIOU, T. SAVOPOULOU, Y.
UCLA Institute of Archaeology. MANIATIS & B. KROMER. Carbon 14 dates from
GLONTI, L.I. & A.I. DZHAVAHISHVILI 1987. Новые Mandalo, W. Macedonia. in Y. Maniatis (ed.)
данные о многослойном памятнике эпох энеолита Archaeometry: Proceedings of the 25th International
– поздней бронзы в Шида Картли – Бериклдееби. Symposium: 679-685. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Краткие сообщения Института археологии 192: LESHTAKOV, K. 1994. К. Лещаков. Опит за датиране
80-87. на І-ІV строителни хоризонти на селищната
GOPHER, A. & R. GREENBERG 1996. The Pottery могила до село Дядово, бронзова епоха. – In: Б.
Neolithic Levels, in A. Biran, D. Ilan & R. Greenberg Борисов (съст.) Марица – Изток. Археологически
(eds.) Dan I: A Chronicle of the Excavations, the проучвания, 2. София, 1994, 95-103.
Pottery Neolithic, the Early Bronze Age and the LESHTAKOV, K. 2002. Galabovo pottery and a new
Middle Bronze Age Tombs: 67-81. Jerusalem: Hebrew synchronization for the Bronze Age in Upper Thrace
Union College. with Anatolia. Anatolica 28: 171-211.
GOPHER, A. & E. ORRELLE 1995 New Data on Burials LICHARDUS-ITTEN, M., J.-P. DEMOULE, L.
from the Pottery Neolithic (6th and 5th Millennia B.C.) PERNIČEVA, M. GREBSKA-KULOVA & I.
in Israel, in S. Campbell & S. Green (eds.) The KULOV 2002. The site of Kovačevo and the
Archaeology of Death in the Ancient Near East Beginnings of the Neolithic Period in Southwestern
(Oxbow Monograph 51): 24-19. Oxford: Oxbow. Bulgaria. The French-Bulgarian excavations 1986-
GÖRSDORF, J. & J. BOJADŽIEV 1996. Zur absoluten 2000, in M. Lichardus-Itten, J. Lichardus & V.
Chronologie der bulgarischen Urgeschichte: Berliner Nikolov (Hrsg.) Beiträge zu jungsteinzeitlichen
C-Datierung von bulgarischen archäologischen Forschungen in Bulgarien. (Saarbrücker Beiträgen
Fundplätzen. Eurasia Antiqua 2: 105-173. zum Altertumskunde, 74): 99-158. Bonn: Habelt.
HILLER, S., V. NIKOLOV 2002. Tell Karanovo 2000- LLOYD, S. & F. SAFAR 1945 Tell Hassuna. Journal of
2001: Vorläufiger Bericht. Salzburg: Paris Lodron Near Eastern Studies 4/1: 255-289.
Universität. MUNCHAEV, R.M., N.Y. MERPERT, N.O. BADER &
HILLER, S., V. NIKOLOV & F. LANG 2005. Tell S.N. AMIROV 1993. Телль Хазна ІІ – раннезем-
Karanovo 2002-2004: Vorläufiger Bericht. Salzburg: ледельческое поселение в Северо-восточной
Paris Lodron Universität. Сирии. Российская археология 4: 25-42.
KANCHEVA-RUSSEVA, T. 2000. Гробове от бронзо- NIKOLOV, V. 2007. Problems of the early stages of
вата епоха в праисторическо селище в Нова neolithization in the southeast Balkans, in P. Biagi &
Загора. Археология 3-4, 31-34. M. Spataro (eds.) A Short Walk through the Balkans:
the First Farmers of the Carpathian Basin and
KARASTOYANOVA, D. 2004. Archäologische Ausgra-
Adjacent Regions. (Atti della Società per la Preistoria
bungen von Tell Krăn, Bez. Kazanlăk, in V. Nikolov
e Protostoria della Regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia, 16),
& K. Bacvarov (Hrsg.) Von Domica bis Drama:
Gedenkschrift für Jan Lichardus: 79-86. Sofia:
Archäologisches Institut mit Museum. NIKOLOV, V., D. KARASTOYANOVA & E.
KATINCHAROV, R. 1979. Погребения, in Г.И. ANASTASSOVA 2005. Археологически разкопки
на тел Крън. Археологически открития и разкопки
Георгиев, Н.Я. Мерперт, Р. Катинчаров & Д.
през 2004 г.: 35-37.
Димитров (ред.) Езеро: Раннобронзовото сели-
ще: 491-496. София: Българска академия на науки- ÖZBAL, R., F. GERRITSEN, B. DIEBOLD, E.
T. KANCHEVA, K. LESHTAKOV & D. GENOV BOBROV & B. LAHN 2004. Tell Kurdu Excavations
1986. Разкопки на селищна могила при с. Дядово, 2001. Anatolica 30: 37-107.
Сливенски окръг. Археологически открития и ÖZTAN A. 2003. A Neolithic and Chalcolithic Settle-
разкопки през 1985 г.: 41-43. ment in Anatolia: Köşk Höyük. Colloquium Anatoli-
KATINCHAROV, R., N.Y. MERPERT, V.S. TITOV, V. cum 2: 69-86.
MATSANOVA, L.I. AVILOVA 1995. Селищна PANAYOTOV, I. 1991. Ранна и средна бронзова епоха
могила при село Юнаците (Пазарджишко), 1. в Горнотракийската низина. Нови проблеми, in И.
София: Агато. Панайотов, К. Лещаков, Р. Георгиева, С. Алексан-


дров & Б. Борисов (ред.) Експедиция Марица- Anatolia and the Ancient Near East, Studies in
Изток. Археологически проучвания 1: 33-38. София. Honour of Tahsin Özgüç: 461-463. Ankara: Türk
PAPANTHIMOU, A. & A. PAPASTERIOU 1993. Ο Tarih Kurumu Basımevi.
προϊστορικος οικισμος στο Μάνδαλο: νεα στοιχεια TODOROVA, H. (ed.) 2002. Die prähistorischen
στιν προϊστορια της Δ. Μακεδονιας. Αρχαια Gräberfelder (Durankulak II). Sofia: Deutsches
Μακεδονια 5/2: 1206-1216. Archäologisches Institut.
PAPASTERIOU 1997. Οι προϊστορικοί οικισμοί στο T. NAKAMURA, M. ARIMURA, & S. SEKINE
Μάνδαλο και στο Αρχοντικό Πέλλας. Θεσσαλονίκη. 1997. First Preliminary Report of the Excavations at
Το αρχαιολογικο εργο στη Μακεδονια και Θρακη 10: Tell el-Kerkh (1997), Northwestern Syria. Bulletin of
143-158. the Ancient Orient Museum 18: 1-40.
& E. BOZHILOVA 2002. Неолитно селище до град 1999. Third Preliminary Report of the Excavations at
Ракитово. (Разкопки и проучвания 29) София: Tell el-Kerkh (1999), Northwestern Syria. Bulletin of
Гал-Ико. the Ancient Oriental Museum 20: 1-32.
REINGRUBER, A. & L. THISSEN 2005. 14C database WACE, A.J.B. & M.S. THOMPSON 1912. Prehistoric
for the Aegean catchment (Eastern Greece, Southern Thessaly. Cambridge: University Press.
Balkans and Western Turkey, in C. Lichter (ed.) How ZALAI-GAÁL, I. 2002. Die Neolithische Gräbergruppe-
Did Farming Reach Europe? Anatolian–European B1 von Mórágy-Tűzkődomb, I: Die archäologische
relations from the second half of the 7th through the Funde und Befunde. Szekszárd-Saarbrücken: Wosin-
first half of the 6th Millennium cal BC. Proceedings of sky Mór Múzeum.
the International Workshop Istanbul, 20-22 May
2004: 295-327. Istanbul: Ege Yayınları. YENER, K.A., C. EDENS, J. CASANA, B. DIEBOLD,
H. EKSTROM, M. LOYET & R. ÖZBAL 2000. Tell
SILISTRELI, U. 1989. Les fouilles de Köşk Höyük, in K. Kurdu Excavations 1999. Anatolica 26: 31-117.
Emre, M. Mellink, B. Hrouda & N. Özgüç (eds.)

University of East London, UK,

Abstract: Jar burials of infants exposed in Pottery Neolithic sites in the Southern Levant, share common features with ethnographic
data from Africa and the New World, and later historical data on burials of ritually killed infants. Features of the various analogies
are analyzed to see whether they allow similar implications to be made for the Neolithic data to suggest that human sacrifice was
associated with this period of early agriculture. Using a methodology for research into symbolic subjects which pursues ontological
and not scientific truths, mythical, ethnographic and historical evidence is assembled and weighed up against this, and various other
Key words: jar burial, infants, Neolithic, southern Levant, sacrifice

Résumé: Des sépultures d’enfants en récipients céramiques ont été exhumées dans les gisements de l’époque néolithique céramique
du Levant Sud. Elles partagent des traits communs avec des inhumations modernes d’Afrique et d’Amérique, et avec celles d’enfants
immolés (sacrifices) pendant les périodes historiques. Une analyse est faite pour constater si ces caractéristiques permettent une
interprétation semblable des données néolithiques, c’est-à-dire si l’on peut proposer qu’il y avait immolation de victimes humaines
pendant cette première époque de l’agriculture. Une méthodologie de recherche des sujets symboliques, du point de vue ontologique,
pèse le pour et le contre des témoignages mythiques, ethnographiques et historiques pour tester l’hypothèse.
Mots Clefs: sépultures en jarres, très jeunes enfants, néolithique, sud Levant, sacrifices

Infants buried in jars are known from many places and this study. The Wadi Raba examples include one from the
periods in the world. In the southern Levant, they first Wadi Raba site of Tel Dan (Gopher & Greenberg 1987),
appear in the Neolithic and continue to appear during the one from the Qatifian site Qatif Y-3 (Epstein 1984), and
following Chalcolithic period (e.g. Azor: Perrot & five from Tell Te’o (Eisenberg et al 2001; Kahila Bar-Gal
Ladiray 1980), the Early Bronze Age (e.g. Tell Te’o: & Smith 2001). The only known fetus burial, recorded in
Eisenberg et al. 2001), and were common Middle Bronze the Neolithic of the Levant, was found in the Wadi Raba
Age mortuary practices (Ilan 1995, 126). They appeared site of Nahal Zehora II in the Menashe Hills (Gopher &
in Mesopotamia in the late fourth or early third millenni- Orrelle 1995, 27).
um BC becoming quite usual in third and second millen-
nia Mesopotamia and Syria (e.g. Dornemann 1979, 138). In pre-state societies, the passing of children makes little
disturbance in public life and it is assumed that they will
Modern examples of this burial rite for fetuses and infants have rudimentary graves (Barley 1995, 179). A new
can still be found today in parts of Africa. A useful source elaborate burial rite for infants in a period known for few
for analogy is the Sudan, where jar burials of children and known onsite burials seems to require explanation.
infants were found both in the Neolithic site of El Kadada
dated to a little later than the Near Eastern material (Geus These Neolithic jar burials have not been subjected to
1984) and in modern times. I will draw analogies from detailed research, but some regarded them as burials of a
Sudan and other African and New World sources. The few selected infants who died natural deaths, carrying
long history and global distribution of this burial form possible implications of ascribed status (Gopher & Orrelle
makes comparisons with a larger context useful. 1995, 28; Gopher 1995). Other hypotheses hint at
unnatural deaths such as sacrifice of the firstborn, male
infanticide with motivations of lineage (Kahila Bar-Gal &
THE SAMPLE Smith 2001, 169).

This paper focuses on an assemblage of twenty six burials Interpretations offered for infant jar burials from later
of infants and children exposed in sites of the Pottery periods include womb simulations indicating symbolism
Neolithic Period of the sixth and fifth millennium BC in of passage rites, rebirth and interconnection of death and
Lebanon and Israel. Found in the Neolithic levels at fertility (Middle Bronze period: Ilan 1995, 135) and a
Byblos, and from Wadi Raba culture sites in Israel, they sacrificial rite of the firstborn (Middle Bronze Age Gezer:
span much of the PN sequence of Israel and neighboring McAlister 1912, 402, 405-6).
This paper examines the Southern Levantine Neolithic jar
Some thirty jar burials were recorded in the three Pottery burials to evaluate claims for natural or unnatural death,
Neolithic levels of Byblos in Lebanon (Dunand 1973). and what the elaborate ritualization of burial of pre-social
Data is available on 18 of these, and they are included in subjects could imply for the period.


To test these hypotheses I follow what von Gernet calls correlations with the skeletal contexts with a view to
the “New Analogy”, the provision of richer analogical discerning qualities which might assist an understanding
inferences by triangulation, whereby explanation can of the logic active in vessel selection.
derive strength from the combined exploitation of diverse
and independent lines of evidence linked by structuring Two jar shapes were recorded, a globular and an ovoid
principles to assess the strength of different hypotheses (elliptical) shape. The globular shape came from earlier
(von Gernet 1993; Wyle 2002; Postgate 1994). sites of Byblos NA and Tell Te’o; the subsequent Byblos
NM vessels were both globular and ovoid, while the
In areas of research that engage with symbolic origins, a ovoid is the only recorded shape for the later Byblos (NR)
method must be applied, whose “truths” are ontological in and the Wadi Raba sites Tel Dan, Qatif and Nahal Zehora
nature. For these subjects, archaeological theory must II burials. Thus vessel shapes revealed a trend from an
overcome the basic contradiction between the epistemo- earlier globular shaped vessel to a later elliptical ovoid
logy of discovery defining science, and the ontology of shaped vessel for these burials. Some vessels were found
meaning underlying the symbolic aspect of the world. The whole, while in some, large sherds used could be
paralyzing demands for certainty born out of the strict reconstructed into whole vessels. In others large sherds of
deductivism of New Archaeology, whose results are often more than one vessel were used to house the infant
acknowledged to be trivial, must be exchanged for skeletons.
making fuller and more systematic use of analogies.
Analogies should be drawn from a rich knowledge of Decorative and typological features of the jars were found
cultural subjects which anticipate underlying structures in to be rare to the assemblages. Some burial vessels had
ritual, in particular anthropological studies of religion and rare handle types (e.g. Tell Te’o: Sadeh 1994, 85-6, 92);
ritual. These demonstrate the conservative nature of ritual one had unique decoration of red stripes over white
forms making it likely that meanings or the germ of an wash/slip (Tell Te’o: Sadeh 1994, 82, 86). Rare incised
original intent may be retained over time and in different bands of cardium shell combing were found on some of
places. This challenges archaeological skepticism about the Byblos jar burials (e.g. Dunand 1973, 100: burial
constancy of meaning over time and place. T986); others had two or four handles removed. The
homogeneity of shapes and these rare features of vessels
Analogical inference is always insecure and so analogical could indicate a choice of special vessel.
conclusions must be treated as tentative, being assessed
for closeness of fit with an archaeological subject, Modification to necks was noted in several vessels.
checked for “degrees of likelihood” associated with a Jagged mouths and missing notches on the rim of
range of interpretive options (Ascher 1961, 323). Archa- drawings of jar burial vessels at Byblos suggest neck
eologists must choose “between a significant pursuit removal or possible intentional notching. (e.g. Byblos
based on a faulty method or one which is methodo- NA: Dunand 1973, Pls. XLI and LXXVI, Fig. 4). The
logically sound but trivial in purpose” (Wylie 2002, 144; “modifications” may be related to reconstruction short-
De Boer & Lathrap 1979, 103; Klejn 1977, 6-11). comings, but the standard of vessel reconstruction for
Byblos seems to be competent, and notching appears too
I will suggest that in this case study, the degree of on other burial vessels (e.g. Pl. XXXIX). There is an
corroboration and good fit that exists between clusters of example too of a broken off rim with filed down neck at
analogies and the archaeological subject can help identify Tell Dan (Gopher & Greenberg 1987, 4: 8, 11). Modifica-
common determining structures underlying the formal tions to vessel necks and the use of large sherds were
analogy and allow a degree of reconstructive inference. thought to be connected to neck size to facilitate the
insertion of the infant body into the jar. There were,
however, many other wider necked vessels such as kraters
SOURCES in the pottery assemblages which could have fulfilled the
purpose; thus modification to facilitate insertion may not
In view of the ontological nature of proof, both earlier and have been relevant.
later source analogies can be brought in support of
hypotheses. Mythical evidence from the area represents Context
earlier sources while historical and ethnographic the later.
Analogies for this burial form from Africa and the New The jars were deposited in relation to structures, on and
World and historical data from Iron Age Europe, help to below limestone surfaces, in corners, by entrances, under
distinguish rites of unnatural deaths from those of natural thresholds, by walls (Dunand 1973), beneath a paved area
deaths. and in relation to posts and circular space (Epstein 1984).
The fetus jar burial was deposited near a wall (Gopher &
Orrelle 1995, 27).
Most were laid on their sides, but some were placed
Typology, decoration and context of vessels of this upright and some were inverted, placed with the mouth
assemblage of 26 jar burials were analyzed for possible face down.


Inclusions In a community from Northern Sudan, a fetus is placed in

a pot and buried in relation to the house enclosure. A
No inclusions were reported in these infant burial jars but stillborn baby who has not drawn breath is buried just
sheep bones were found close to a jar burial of a child at outside the outer wall. Only if the delivery of a fetus
Byblos (NR T1332) possibly related to it, and bird bones required a midwife to open up the woman (draw blood?
were found in a bowl close to an earth burial Byblos (NM “modify” the cervix?), the ritual disposal of the fetus is
T1141). called for. The vessel which is used to bury fetuses is one
used to mix a staple food; it is non-porous and watertight,
No signs of disease or violence were reported on the ske- like a womb should be; a broken vessel is a womb whose
letons. However, only two of them were stated to be com- contents have escaped (Boddy 1982).
plete; many were incomplete or consisted of odd bones.
In another African example from Zimbabwe, a premature
The age of the subjects buried ranged from fetus to 10 or aborted baby is buried in a jar in the sand of a dry
years old, but the main categories were newborn and river-bed. The first rains swell the river, washing the sand
extremely young infants. Infant remains from Tel Te’o from the jar and the baby out of it. The jar is likened to a
analyzed so far for ancient DNA were found to be males womb that has not yet given birth, and cannot become
(Smith et al. 1999; Kahila Bar-Gal and Smith 2001). The pregnant again until it goes through this birth process.
Nahal Zehora II fetus was calculated at a gestational age Here the jar used is the first pot used in the process of
of some 24 weeks (Avi Gopher pers. comm). brewing beer (Barley 1994, 158, note 74; Aschwanden
1982, 285).

WOMB METAPHOR In the pre-literate Olmec culture in Mexico (ca 1200-400

BC), fetus effigies and disarticulated fetus femurs and
The jars used to bury infants can be envisaged as wombs skulls, deposited in ritual locations, were thought to
as was suggested for the Middle Bronze Age burials (Ilan represent fetuses of women who had died in pregnancy or
1995). Jar shapes, especially the earlier globular shape labor, or had been cut out of women as sacrifices.
could be analogous to full term pregnant bellies and by Researchers link the archaeological evidence with modern
the same logic, jar openings could be regarded as the birth Mesoamerican folklore where the human gestation cycle
canal and cervix. correlates with the life cycle of maize and the ritual
calendar. Sacrifices of different aged humans were made,
The pot as womb analogy is not uncommon in to coincide with stages of development of maize, the fetus
ethnography in Africa, some African peoples likening the representing the vital phase equivalent to the quickening
openings of some vessels to vulvas (Evers & Huffman, of the fetus in the womb (Tate & Bendersky 1999; Frazer
1988, 739). 1987, 380). The sacrifice of a fetus would ensure rainfall,
crucial at this stage to germinate the maize.
If this symbolic system operated in the Neolithic, we can
anticipate that like a human cervix, the mouth of the Amongst the Kgatla of south eastern Botswana, the body
vessel might open widely for a full term birth and close of a miscarried embryo, or preferably of twins, was an
again after delivery. The neck or birth canal would essential ingredient in rainmaking “medicine”. Kept in a
shorten for the birth and then return to normal. small new pot it must be buried inside a hut or in some
other shady spot; exposure to the sun would stop the rain
I tested information for 22 burials to see whether a and cause drought (Schapera 1971, 48-50; Frazer 1987,
correlation between the openings and necks of vessels 209). A link between vessel rim modification and death
used and infant ages could be established. In the result, was described for the Thonga of South Africa; here a
the expectations for correlations of ages and neck ope- mother is informed of the death of a son during initiation
nings were met for about 16 of them. Vessels with wide by a notch being cut on the pot she uses to bring him food
apertures, non-existent or removed necks were associated (Barley 1994, 107).
with burials of neonates and very young infants sugges-
ting a very recent birth (this worked better for the Wadi
Raba culture than for Byblos), while long necks and nar- CULTURAL INTERPRETATION OF THE DATA
row openings – a post-birth state – were often the choice
for older infants and children. This may provide a hint The analysis of the pottery containers of the burials,
that a womb metaphor was involved in the burial vessels. revealed a hint of a womb analogy and selection for
vessels. Vessel selection does not appear to have been
made for ease of insertion, but rather, the womblike
ETHNOGRAPHY appearance and cervical nature of opening suggest that
perhaps a particular kind of vessel was chosen whose
Ethnographic data of modern jar burials offered further shape and neck type were significant. Large sherds may
hints about burial location, vessel type and the womb indicate a broken womb, and a notched rim could signal
metaphor. intentional cutting to remove the infant hinting that


notches and rim modifications in the archaeological attach to status (Parker-Pearson 1999, 77; O’Shea &
material were significant. Zvelebil 1984; Eliade 1974, 355; Barley 1995, 119).

Deposition was related to structure and the skeletons, like A link is found too with the notion of sacred space. In
the vessels, were both whole and fragmented (and male?). symbolic terms, a jar is a circular micro-context, which
These facts relate the archaeological assemblage to a carries implications of sacrality, perhaps a sacral womb.
wider net of historical and ethnographic analogies and Indo European versions of creative flood myths describe
associated symbolic structures. the miraculous preservation and renewed creation in a pot
after a catastrophe (e.g. Shulman 1988, 303-9). Burial in
In the ethnographic contexts rules governing selection of the earth too might imply a liminal context of preserva-
vessel and contexts of burial locations were found to tion and concealment (e.g. Humphrey & Vitebsky 2003,
relate to drought prevention and rainfall. In addition they 128; Bloch & Parry 1982; Smirnov 1989).
were connected to production cycles of elite beverages.
The womb analogy was present in some accounts and Conkey has drawn attention to the wider social formations
related to rebirth. Age is a factor in the manner of burial within which symbolic artifacts engage, and the
and in two source cases, intentional drawing of blood or multiscalar nature of context (Conkey 1997). Thus these
“violence” accompanied ritual burial. burials might be said to have several levels of meaningful
contexts, the primary sacral micro context of a symbolic
Context womb jar, placed in earth below the surface and a
secondary structure related context of foundation
Mortuary ritual theories regard burial location as an act of sacrifice. An even greater macro context too provides
classification and a statement of social position and the significant meaning to the phenomenon.
deposition location of a ritualized death may provide
clues as to intention. (Barley 1995, 132 and 143). The evidence of domesticated faunal and botanical
remains from some of the sites, e.g. Nahal Zehora II and
In historical sources, the same structure-related locations Tell Te’o indicate a context of early cultivation.
as occur in the PN subject carry an implication of
unnatural death as foundation deposits or offerings. This The sacrifice of humans in relation to the growth of
was claimed for burials in the Pre Pottery Neolithic in agricultural crops, sometimes referred to as fertility rites,
Israel, e.g. for Jericho (Kenyon & Holland 1981, 48, 305, is a common practice recorded all over the world, in
Pl. 170b), Kfar Hahoresh (Goring-Morris 2000, 128), and ethnographic accounts and myths to do with the origins of
for Ain Ghazal, (Rollefson 2000, 170). agriculture. “All over the world human sacrifice seems to
be closely linked with the mystery of food-production”
Historically, “foundation deposits” or offerings repre- (Merrifield 1987, 23; Frazer 1987, 425-447). Although
sented a donation of energy for the gods in return for Clark amongst others has pointed out that “we know from
benefits protection or thanks. By definition they relate to our knowledge of living people that a great diversity of
sacrificed objects or persons which have been ritually cultural expression may be found among communities
killed, and deposited in a liminal context at the subject to the same economic limitations and occupying
foundation or termination of a structure. Deposition similar if not identical environments” (1953, 355), in this
locations of these infant bodies in the Neolithic sample case, economic and climatic conditions represent another
in peripheral contexts such as between floors, thre- match between the ethnographic sources and Neolithic
sholds, entrances and boundaries indicate a choice of subject and one can anticipate that common ritual needs
such traditionally significant liminal contexts (e.g. Hum- existed between the two. The unpredictability of rainfall
phrey & Vitebsky 2003, 128; Bloch & Parry 1982). The in areas of the Levant could well provide deterministic
deposition of infants, who had died natural deaths, in explanation for the practice of rituals for fluid
these significant locations, is not recorded historically. preservation, and rainmaking devices through specialized
Thus contexts of the Neolithic jars match those of agents. Traditionally, the most reliable device for assuring
sacrificial rituals. seasonal regeneration was to placate the divine forces
with the killing of a human victim and it would be most
Limestone surfaces as found in Pre Pottery Neolithic B surprising not to find versions of such “fertility rites” in
site of Kfar Hahoresh (Goring Morris 2000, 114-5) were the context of early agriculture in the Levant.
regarded as sealing or separating devices hinting at
notions of pollution and sanctity (Goring-Morris 2000, While the development of symbolism and rituals relating
126), and I suggest that burial contexts in relation with to fluid preservation are understandable devices in
these floors carried liminal symbolic significance of this marginal regions such as the Southern Levant with its
kind in the Pottery Neolithic period. record of fluctuating climatic condition, the questions of
how bodies of fetuses might solve the problem, or why
The inverted position of jars too relate to sacrifice to the rainmaker needed fetuses to work his magic, or why
divinities – probably chthonic – and to the dead (Åström the blood signal was associated with the selection for
1987, 13), while the vertical position of subjects could ritual treatment must be answered. Bloody sacrificial acts


transformed infants into powerful forces whose proper periods, archaeologists and theologians rely both on
deposition could prevent drought. The subjects of the textual and visual sources to recognize deities (Keel &
African jar burials are not stated to be sacrificed infants, Uehlinger 1998, xi). In addition, Boyer has described
but the elaborate rules surrounding the suitable locations criteria for the recognition of gods which are universally
for their deposition and its connection to controlling the recognized as being in anthropomorphic form with coun-
weather hints at sacrificial origins of these elaborate ter intuitive features (Boyer 2001). The rich repertoire of
customs. this kind of anthropomorphic imagery in the Neolithic
suggests that supernatural recipients were present.
Can we therefore infer for the Neolithic material that they
were scheduling sacrifices and that unnatural deaths of Thus, to some extent, the historical requirements of
fetuses and neonates were related to procuration of recognizing sacrifice in the archaeological record appear
rainfall? in the PN. The identification of a supernatural recipient,
acts of “giving” which involve the killing of animate and
Historical Sources inanimate, and their subsequent separation are met by the
figurines, dismembered skeletons, jar contexts and earth
Like the Neolithic jar burials, sacrificial burials were burial.
historically characterized as having few or no grave goods
(Brown 1991, 17). Further conditions for recognition of Indications of Religion
sacrifice were “separation”, evidence for a supernatural
recipient, and violence (e.g. Green 1998, 185; Merrifield The cultural symbolic aspects of the Neolithic data have
1987, 65; Hughes 1991, 3). implications for the period for identifying features of
religion. Repetitive symbolic aspects relating to rebirth,
The notion of separation has the specific sense that in the liminal deposition locations and hints of sacral space
course of giving sacrifice, proximity to the supernatural suggest formulaic ritual behavior orchestrated and
occurs. Any person or artifact that has approached or carefully managed by professional religious officials. The
touched the divine, partakes itself of that divine quality. characteristics of sacrificial ritual seem to be present. The
This quality is sanctity, and a difference is created same features over such a large area and period may
between sacred and profane, the Hebrew word kadesh, reveal a cultural koine, or interaction sphere with a
separate. In Latin, sacrifice derives ultimately from the common belief system for the Pottery Neolithic period as
Latin sacer (holy) and facere (to make), and this implies a was described for the PPNB (Cauvin 1989; Bar-Yosef &
ritual act of the highest order in which the offering Belfer-Cohen 1989).
becomes sanctified. The act of separation is significant in
separating the sacred from the profane. Intentional earth In most historical analogies quoted, patterns of ritual
burial of infants, in elaborated containers, in liminal behavior surrounding the deposition of dead fetuses and
contexts can be interpreted as early manifestation of infants indicated that they were an active mechanism in
separation of a sacral kind. disaster control; the Iron Age sacrifices were supported by
textual evidence and the African examples by live reports.
The archaeological requirement of evidence for violent If the motivation for sacrifice was anxiety about rainfall,
death is problematic. Single bones or partial skeletons then a link with status might be established. Rainmaking
hint at pre or post-mortem mutilation or dismemberment. was a heavy responsibility for decision makers, but also
The bones were preserved, closed in jars, and so tapho- brought status. In fragile African cultivation communities,
nomic causes can be ruled out. Complete bodies with no the survival importance of rainfall meant that a successful
signs of violence may have been subjected to forms of rainmaker could qualify for the role of king. Historically,
violent killing such as drowning or suffocation which royal and elite families donated victims for sacrifice. A
leave no traces on the body; some “gods” might demand frequent theme in classical textual references to child
perfect whole victims and this creates an objective sacrifice is that the initiative was taken by the ruling class
difficulty in recognizing violent death. Egyptian and Indo (Mosca 1975, 16; de Vaux 1964, 84 note 111; Quintus
European creation myths describe the ritual killing and Curtius Hist. Iv iii. 23. trans. H. Bardon) or ritual leaders
dismemberment of an original victim and the dismem- (Green 2001, 194). The “voluntary” auto sacrifice, an
bered bodies can provide evidence of reenactments of apparent altruistic act saving the community from disaster
such rituals, and be considered as indirect indications of enhanced a leader’s power, or if it failed, his or her death.
violent acts. The status lay with the patron of the act, the cost of the
gesture. In addition, participants in a sacrificial act
Supernatural Recipient acquired divinity.

“In any consideration of sacrifice as a concept, the issue Can we infer some form of elite auto sacrifice for the
of the recipient is crucial” (Green 2001, 22). The presence Neolithic remains? Was the potency attached to these
of human figurines in archaeological assemblages can infant burials that could in some way influence the
assist a reconstruction of the ideological context in which powers that controlled the weather, or the future of a
anthropomorphic divinity was venerated. In historical structure, a source of status?


If “selection” for male victims is found to operate, as the the new mythico-religious cosmology. A hypothesis such
sex testing so far reveals, this would have implications for as this, where economic, political and religious elements,
the hypothesis of male infanticide, or sacrifice of the status, religion and society are inextricably meshed,
firstborn male. Proving ritual killing is notoriously provides compelling Neolithic structure with which to
difficult but the clustered interrelated symbols of a ritual unravel the significance of these burials.
which link the Neolithic and ethnographic data tend
towards such an explanation. This Neolithic assemblage, known but neglected for some
30 years, when placed in its cultural ontological context
In a period of early agriculture, evidence for unnatural reveals how apparently unrelated observations and ideas
death could be interpreted as religious sacrificial ritual from the sources seem to link up with the archaeological
associated with crops. In the Pottery Neolithic period data to expand the interpretive potential which might
context of elaborate pottery vessels, one may even apply. Implications have been voiced here which extend
hypothesize that an elite beverage culture was present beyond the conventions of the archaeological discipline
suggesting that crops were grown for this purpose. and the expectations of a conservative audience. To
ignore this greater context, however, in spite of its
Finally, the different possible interpretations for this insecure nature, is to lose the interpretative potential from
cluster of symbols must be weighed against the different multivariate symbolic contexts and the important matches
possible hypotheses to explain elaborated infant burial; between source and subject, which are revealed when
that it represents sentimental natural burial, rebirth, burial archaeological data is correlated with ethnographic
of high status infant or unnatural death of ritually historical and mythical sources.
sacrificed infants.
Ideas presented here drawn from such similarities
The special vessels and womb metaphors might support encouraged the drawing of inferences; if caution demands
the first explanation of sentimental burial. The symbol of that these inferred ideas be described as speculations, then
the inverted womb discharging its contents through a in the spirit of interpretive archaeology, this detailed
vulva aperture can be seen as a metaphorical birth process informed speculation is offered to support an interpret-
and links to ideas of death and rebirth (Hertz 1960, 81; tation, which gives greater weight to one hypothesis but
Bloch & Parry 1982). that embraces all the others.

When combined with special locations, and selection for

males, one may, at a stretch be looking at privileged References
burial of a natural death. If ascribed status was the
motivation behind the jar burials, one must ask what the ASCHER, R. 1961 Analogy in Archaeological Interpre-
elaborated burial of a dead infant might signal? How tation. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 17: 317-
would the elaboration of the loss of a child of a socially 325.
powerful group member enhance his status? If the burials ASCHWANDEN, H. 1982. Symbols of Life. Zimbabwe:
were involved in some way with territorial rights, why Mambo Press
were fetuses, infants and children accorded this rite and
not adults? Finally, the possibility of mutilation and ÅSTRÖM, P. 1987 Inverted Vases in Old World
dismemberment and the selection of “cut” infants for Religion. Journal of Prehistoric Religion 1, 7-16.
ritual burial requires that one must consider the option of BARDON, H. 1947-8. Quintus Curtius. 2 vols., Paris: Les
ritual killing. Belles Lettres.
If the burials represents ritually killed infants, sacrificed PPNB Interaction Sphere, in I. Hershkovitz (ed.)
to avoid a disaster such as drought, this pseudo-altruistic People and Cultures in Change: 59-72. Oxford:
voluntary act (Merrifield 1987, 65; Green 2001, 67) could B.A.R. International Series 508.
bestow honor and status on a lineage head. Neolithic
hierarchy might be supported by divine favor acquired BARLEY, N. 1994. Smashing Pots: Works of Clay from
through ritual and social means, as a forerunner of divine Africa. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
monarchy (Quigley 2005). BARLEY, N. 1995. Dancing on the Grave: Encounters
with death. London: John Murray.
The model attempts to describe how socio-economic and BLOCH, M. & J. PARRY 1982. Death and the Regen-
political motivations might be enmeshed in a religious eration of life. Cambridge: University Press.
rite. It provides a key to explaining the possible
relationships between hierarchy and mortuary ritual BODDY, J. 1982. Womb as Oasis: the symbolic context
practice and indicate very early presence of agricultural of Pharaonic circumcision in rural Northern Sudan
ritual. American Ethnologist 9/4: 682-98.
BOYER, P. 2001. Religion Explained: The Evolutionary
This symbolic device for solving problems of rainfall and origins of Religious Thought. New York: Basic
fluid preservation expressed in ritual was the product of Books.


BROWN, S. 1991. Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice and GOPHER, A. 1995. Infant burials in the Neolithic Period
Sacrificial Monuments in their Mediterranean in the Southern Levant – Israel: A Social View, in M.
Context. Sheffield: Academic Press. Otte (ed.) Nature et Culture, Colloque de Liege (13-17
CLARK, J.G.D. 1953. Archaeological Theories and December 1993): 913-918. Liege: Etudes et Recher-
Interpretation: Old World, in A.L. Kroeber (ed.) ches Archeologiques de L’Universite de Liege.
Anthropology Today: 343-383. Chicago: University of GOPHER, A. & E. ORRELLE 1995. New Data on
Chicago Press. Burials on the Pottery Neolithic Period (Sixth-Fifth
CAUVIN, J. 1989 La Neolithisation du Levant, huit ans Millennium BC) in Israel, in S. Campbell & A. Green
après. Paleorient 15/1: 174-78. (eds.) The Archaeology of Death in the Ancient Near
East: 24-28. Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 51.
CONKEY, M.W. 1997. Beyond Art and Between the
Caves: Thinking About context in the Interpretive GORING-MORRIS N. 2000. The Quick and the Dead.
Process, in M.W. Conkey, O. Soffer, D. Stratmann & The social context of Aceramic Neolithic Mortuary
N.G. Jablonski (eds.) Beyond Art. Pleistocene Image Practices as Seen from Kfar Hahoresh, in I. Kuijt (ed.)
and Symbol: 343-367. Wattis Symposium Series in Life in Neolithic Farming Communities: Social Orga-
Anthropology. San Francisco: Memoirs of the nization, Identity and Differentiation: 103-136. New
California Academy of Sciences 23. York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
DE BOER, W.R. & D.W. LATHRAP 1979. The Making GREEN, M.N. 1998 Humans as Ritual Victims in the
and Breaking of Shipibo-Conibo Ceramics, in C. Later Prehistory of Western Europe. Oxford Journal
Kramer (ed.) Ethnoarchaeology: Implications of of Archaeology 17/2: 169-189.
Ethnography for Archaeology: 102-138. New York: GREEN, M.A. 2001. Dying for the Gods. Stroud: Tempus.
Columbia University Press.
HERTZ, R. 1960. Death and the Right Hand. Translated
de VAUX, R. 1964. Studies in Old Testament Sacrifice. by R. and C Needham. New York: Free Press.
Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
HUGHES, D. 1991. Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece.
DORNEMANN, R.H. 1979. Tell Hadidi: a millennium of London: Routledge.
Bronze Age city occupation, in D.N. Freedman (ed.)
Archeological Reports from the Tabqa Dam Project - HUMPHREY, C. & P. VITEBSKY 2003. Sacred
Euphrates Valley, Syria: 113-150. Cambridge MA: Architecture. London: Harper Collins.
Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research ILAN, D. 1995. Mortuary Practices at Tel Dan in the
44. Middle Bronze Age: a Reflection of Canaanite Society
DUNAND, M. 1973. Fouilles de Byblos V. Paris: and Ideology, in S. Campbell & A. Green (eds.) The
Maisonneuve. Archaeology of Death in the Ancient Near East: 117-
139. Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 51.
Tell Te’o. A Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze KAHILA BAR-GAL G. & P. SMITH 2001. The Human
Age Site in the Hula Valley. Jerusalem: Israel Remains, in E. Eisenberg, A. Gopher & R. Greenberg
Antiquities Authority Reports 13. (eds.) Tell Te’o. A Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early
Bronze Age Site in the Hula Valley: 163-170.
ELIADE, M. 1974. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority Reports No.
Ecstasy. (Bollingen Series 76) Princeton: University 113.
KEEL, O. & C. UEHLINGER 1998. Gods, Goddesses
EPSTEIN, C. 1984. A Pottery Neolithic Site near Tel and Images of God in Ancient Israel. Minneapolis:
Qatif. Israel Exploration Journal 34: 209-219. Fortress.
EVERS, T. & T. HUFFMAN 1988. On Why Pots are KENYON, K. & T. HOLLAND 1981. Excavations at
Decorated the Way They Are. Current Anthropology Jericho, V. London: British School of Archaeology in
29/5: 739-41. Jerusalem.
FRAZER, J.G. 1987 (1922). The Golden Bough: The KLEJN, L.S. 1977. A Panorama of Theoretical Archaeo-
Classic Study in Magic and Religion. Abridged logy. Current Anthropology 18: 1-42.
Edition. London: Macmillan Publishers/Papermac.
McALISTER, R.A. 1912. The Excavation at Gezer, vol. II
GEUS, F. 1984. Excavations at El Kadada and the and III. London: Hazell, Watson & Viney.
Neolithic of the Central Sudan, in L. Krzyzaniak & M.
Kobusiewicz (eds.) Origin and Early Development of MERRIFIELD, R. 1987. The Archaeology of Ritual and
Food Producing Cultures in North Eastern Africa: Magic. New York: New Amsterdam.
361-372. Poznan: Polish Academy of Sciences/Poznan MOSCA, P.G. 1975. Child Sacrifice in Canaanite and
Archaeological Museum. Israelite Religion: A Study in Mulk and melech. PhD
GOPHER, A. & R. GREENBERG 1987. Pottery thesis, Harvard University. Cambridge Mass.
Neolithic Levels at Tel Dan. Mitekufat Haeven Journal O’SHEA, J. & M. ZVELEBIL. 1984. Oleneostrovski
of the Israel Prehistoric Society 20: 91-113. mogilnik: reconstructing the social and economic


organization of prehistoric foragers in northern Afrika – Studiecentrum/ Cambridge: African Studies

Russia. Journal of Anthropological Archeology 3: 1- Centre.
40. SHULMAN, D. 1988. The Tamil Flood Myths and the
PARKER-PEARSON, M. 1999. The Archaeology of Cankam Legend, in A. Dundes (ed.) The Flood Myth:
Death and Burial. Stroud: Sutton. 293-317. Berkeley & London: University of Cali-
PERROT, J. & D. LADIRAY. 1980. Tombes à ossuaires fornia Press.
de la région côtière palestinienne au IVe millénaire SMIRNOV, Y. 1989. Intentional Human Burial: Middle
avant l’ère chrétienne. Paris: Paléorient. Paleolithic (Last Glaciation) Beginnings. Journal of
POSTGATE, J.N. 1994. Text and Figure in Ancient World Prehistory 3/2: 199-233.
Mesopotamia: match and mismatch, in C. Renfrew & SMITH, P., G. KAHILA, D. FILON, A. OPPENHEIM,
E.B.W. Zubrow (eds.) The Ancient Mind: 176-84. E. EISENBERG & M. FAERMAN 1999. The
Cambridge: University Press/New Directions in Application of DNA Analysis to Archaeological
Archaeology. Problems, in S. Pike & S. Gitin (eds.) The Practical
QUIGLEY, D. 2005. Introduction: The Character of Impact of Science on Near Eastern and Aegean
Kingship, in D. Quigley (ed.) The Character of Archaeology (Wiener Laboratory Publications 3): 71-
Kingship: 1-23. Oxford: Berg. 74. London: Archetype Press.
ROLLEFSON, G.O. 2000. Ritual and Social Structure at TATE, C. & G. BENDERSKY 1999. Olmec sculptures of
Neolithic ‘Ain Ghazal, in I. Kuijt (ed.) Life in the Human Fetus. P.A.R.I. Online Publications,
Neolithic Farming Communities Social Organization,
Identity and Differentiation: 165-190. New York: hive/30/olmec_sculpture.html.
Kluwer Academic/ Plenum. VON GERNET, A. 1993. The Construction of Prehistoric
SADEH, S. 1994. Pottery of the 5 Millennium BC in Ideation: Exploring the Universality-Idiosyncrasy
Israel and Neighboring Regions. PhD diss. Tel Aviv Continuum. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 3/1:
University. 67-81.
SCHAPERA, I. 1971. Rainmaking Rites of Tswana Tribes WYLIE, A. 2002. Thinking from Things. Berkeley & Los
African Social Research Documents, Vol. 3. Leiden: Angeles: University of California Press.

Gassia ARTIN
Université Lyon 2, CNRS UMR 5133, “Archéorient: Environnements et Sociétés de l’Orient Ancien”,
Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée – Jean Pouilloux, Lyon, France

Abstract: Excavated by Maurice Dunand between 1925-1973, Byblos represents a key site for the study of the Chalcolithic in the
central and northern Levant. One of its major interests is its “necropolis”1, which has yielded 2097 inhumations in jars. Despite the
remarkable character of this funerary assemblage and the abundance of data collected during the excavations, only about 24% of
the burials were published. This new analysis involves a detailed study of the unpublished records and a geospatial analysis of the
evolution of the “necropolis” in relation to the associated settlement. This involved a systematic and comprehensive study of
funerary contexts, human remains and grave goods. The results suggest multiple phases of inhumation and chart the spread of both
the “necropolis” and settlement during the Chalcolithic2.
Key Words: Byblos, Chalcolithic, Central and Northern Levant, jar burials

Résumé: Fouillé par Maurice Dunand entre 1925 et 1973, Byblos nous a livré, une importante installation “énéolithique” dont une
des grandes richesses est sa “nécropole” comprenant 2097 inhumations dans des jarres. Malgré le caractère remarquable de cet
ensemble funéraire et l’abondance des données recueillies pendant la fouille, seule 24 % des tombes ont été publiées. L’exploitation
et la relecture critique des données inédites, par des méthodes nouvelles étayées par des outils informatiques nous a permis de
présenter les différentes caractéristiques inédites des trois composantes de l’ensemble funéraire (les structures funéraires, les restes
humains et le mobilier d’accompagnement) et d’en faire une étude archéo-anthropologique. D’autre part, l’analyse spatiale de la
distribution des tombes, de leur contenu et des relations des tombes avec les structures d’habitat nous a permis d'établir une
sériation chrono-spatiale de la “nécropole” et de l’“installation”.
Mots-clés: Byblos, énéolithique, Levant Central et Levant Nord, sépultures en jarre

INTRODUCTION12 described in publications. Furthermore, the analysis of the

site proposed by Dunand (1973), and by other individual
Byblos is located 40 km north of Beirut on the Lebanese studies is partial, as only certain elements of the énéo-
coast, and occupies rocky promontory 30 metres above lithique have been studied. Statistical, qualitative and
sea level. The excavations at this site were mainly spatial analyses of the data are absent, thus past interpret-
directed by the archaeologist Maurice Dunand between tations and synthesises are too general and incomplete to
1925 and 1973. In the course of his work, he excavated an be of value to the scientific community.
extensive “necropolis” and settlement from the period he
defined as énéolithique, which he divided on the basis of To undertake an exhaustive study of the fourth
ceramics and architecture into the énéolithique ancien and millennium layers of Byblos, it was vital to examine the
the énéolithique récent (Dunand 1973)3. The “necropolis” archives of the original excavations, including all the
and settlement are very important, being one of the few unpublished data. In this way, the mass of information
excavated examples from this time in the central and from the past was not to be lost or left unevaluated. These
northern Levant. records were critically re-evaluated where necessary, and
at the same time, the various terminologies were
The énéolithique layers of Byblos are characterised by standardised. The re-evaluation of the archives permitted
inhumations in jars, and an exceptionally rich and varied the confirmation or reconsideration of past hypotheses,
corpus of grave goods. Despite the remarkable quality of and where appropriate, the development of new ones.
the énéolithique material, the “necropolis” remains
relatively unknown. Only 24% of the burials have been
“Necropolis” is the term used by Maurice Dunand who directed the
majority of Byblos excavations. The unpublished records include the Fonds Dunand
This article is based on research undertaken as part of my PhD at the archives, the personal records of Jean Lauffray (the
University of Lyon in France (2005), which focused on reinvestigating
the archaeological material from the énéolithique “necropolis” at
architect who worked with Dunand), and the archaeo-
Byblos. logical finds, which have been scattered in different
Today, the term Chalcolithic is more frequently used than énéolithique university, museum and institute collections.
to describe the period which dates to approximately 6100-5000 14C BP
or 5000-3800 cal. BC. Unfortunately, dating Byblos and its various The Fonds Dunand were saved from destruction in the
chronological phases has been controversial, due to the absence of
radiocarbon analysis, and to the lack of related studies. For this reason, I Lebanese war and are now housed in the Faculté des
have retained the term énéolithique for the purpose of this study. Lettres at the University of Geneva. These archives are


the most complete and important source of information geo-spatial disposition of the “necropolis”. The use of
that we have of the Byblos excavations (1926-1975). these two programmes made it possible to investigate the
These records include excavation notes, arranged into varying characteristics of the three elements, which
boxes and drawers without having been classified. Thus, compose the funerary material (funerary contexts, human
the utilisation of these archives becomes complicated. remains and associated grave goods) and to conduct an
Furthermore, the Fonds Dunand in Geneva are not archaeological-anthropological study. In addition, the
exhaustive because certain documents that belonged to spatial analysis of the distribution of burials, their
other excavation members are missing. For example, the contents as well as the relation between burials and
notes about the énéolithique “necropolis” and the habitation structures made it possible to establish the
topographic accounts have not been found. Many chrono-spatial development of the “necropolis”.
documents may in fact have been lost for a thorough However, to understand more clearly the organisation and
inventory was never taken. development of the occupation at Byblos in the
énéolithique, the site had to be divided into sectors or
The Byblos archaeological finds are housed at Musée zones, which take account of the morphology of the
National de Beyrouth, Dépôt de la citadelle de Byblos, terrain.
Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in Paris, Département
d’Anthropologie de l’Université in Geneva, and the At the centre of the area is a small valley, which in later
Institut de Préhistoire Orientale in Jalès (France). periods contained a well and a “sacred pool”. There may
However, the archaeological material in the Musée have been a well or a spring there in the énéolithique, but
National de Beyrouth was often inaccessible, either due to no evidence has ever been reported. For the purpose of
looting during the war or to the limited access to the my study I drew three concentric circles around this
collections. Director of Antiquities’ fear of losing central feature and subdivided the area contained within
artefacts because of theft hindered access to the material these circles into zones (Fig. 9.1). Thus zones A and B are
during the first few years of my work4. divisions of the inner circle, which has a diameter of
about 80 m. Zones C, D, E, and G are divisions of the
middle circle, which has a diameter of about 200 m.
METHODOLOGY Zones I and M are divisions of the outer circle, which has
a diameter of about 350 m. The final two sectors are two
The choices regarding my methodology and the quality of hills, which are contained within the area of the circles.
results that could be obtained were constrained by the Zone F is the higher hill (colline haute) to the north of the
limitations of the available records. well, and zone H is the lower hill (colline basse) to the
My primary concern was the controversial methods used
during the original excavations. This methodology used a
grid system of 10 metres to divide the entire area. The site ANALYSIS OF FUNERARY CONTEXTS
was excavated in uniform 20 cm spits, without
consideration for the archaeological stratigraphy or A rich variety of funerary contexts were found at the
natural topography. Unfortunately, these methodological Byblos énéolithique “necropolis”. The site has 2097
problems could not be resolved through further burials, 2059 of which are jar burials5. The information
excavation due to the condition of the site. The very gathered allowed us to quantitatively analyse the
dispersed, incomplete and inconsistent nature of the characteristics of the three main groups of material:
documentation as a whole was additional constraints to funerary contexts, human remains, and grave goods.
this study.
Funerary contexts
The methodology of this research consisted of the
creation of two bodies of data from the available The énéolithique “necropolis” is characterised by 98% of
documentary sources and archaeological material. The jar inhumations. The remaining 2% of the sample consist
first corpus included all archaeological and palaeoanthro- of inhumations in other types of vessels as well as plain
pological information, and the second all the geo-spatial burials, both at the site and in nearby caves (Fig. 9.2).
data. The archaeo-anthropological corpus incorporated all
the information regarding the burials and their associated The form, dimensions, position and orientation of the
grave goods and human remains, while the geo-spatial various inhumation types were not systematically
corpus integrated the spatial parameters relative to the recorded in the publications and archives, and to date, no
burials and the habitation structures. typological archaeometric studies of the jars have been
The available documentation was computer analysed
using FileMaker™ for the text, and MapInfo™ for the 5
The exact number of burials is never given in publications and
excavation reports. This is not surprising as the authors of these records
An authorisation was eventually given in 2000-2001, which allowed do not indicate their source, and they never had access to the Fonds
me to examine a certain number of the archaeological items. Dunand to complete and verify their findings.


Fig. 9.1. Geo-spatial corpus: topographic distribution (Artin 2005)

complicate matters even further, the records for Byblos

are incomplete in the areas of funerary anthropology and
palaeontology. Taphonomic studies of human remains
from the Chalcolithic sites in the Near East were rarely
done (Le Mort & Rabinovich 1994 & 2002), so the
present study is based on the analysis of documentary
sources indicated in the corpus.

63% of the jars contained human remains. Individual

burials represent the standard burial type with multiple
graves comprising only 6% of the total number found6.
However, the lack of information and the unavailability of
the osteological material for future study prevent one
from establishing any relationship between individuals
Fig. 9.2. Funerary contexts: jar burials within multiple burials. 35% of the skeletons in jars were
(Cliché Fonds Dunand archives) oriented with the skull to the opening. The skeletons were
also positioned facing both right and left, and 21% were
From the available data, a variety of shapes can be in a contracted position (Fig. 9.3).
observed, amongst which are the ovoid, globular and
elongated jars. Their lengths vary between 0.20 and The fact that 45% of the sample are identified as adults
1.95 m. The majority (67%) were positioned horizontally, (buried in 581 jars) and 39% as immatures (children)
but the orientation varied considerably. (buried in 499 jars) suggests that there was no age based
selection for this “necropolis”. We can thus assume that
Human remains 6
37 children and 54 adults were interred in burials classified as multiple.
Only 20 graves contained both adults and children. An identical number
An anthropological study of the human remains was of adults were buried with other adults. Unfortunately, the sex of the
impossible as most of the bones had been lost. To individuals buried in the multiple graves is not known.


available records, a total of 3652 objects were found. The

grave goods are extremely diverse, and included cera-
mics, metal and stone artefacts. The lithic industry
included stone implements and weapons (either flaked or
polished), the bone industry included tools made of bone
and/or ivory, and the art objects and ornaments (non-
functional items) included human or animal figurines, as
well as amulets, necklaces, bracelets, beads, and pendants
made of different material (Fig. 9.4).

Fig. 9.3. Human remains (burial No. 801)

(Cliché Fonds Dunand archives)

all members of the population were buried in the same

intramural “necropolis”. The same spatial distribution of Fig. 9.4. Grave goods in a jar
both adult and child burials reveals that there was no (Cliché Fonds Dunand archives)
spatial separation by age into separate burial zones.
However, the methods used to determine age mentioned
in the documentary sources were based on a crude
Only a small percentage of animal and plant remains are
empirical system, and differ greatly from today’s
mentioned in the Fonds Dunand archives.
The notes concerning Byblos give only a rough estimation
of age based on the size of the bones found. It is therefore
impossible to classify the remains according to normal Ceramics are the most abundant artefact type; they are
age groups. For this study, three categories were chosen: present in almost 56% of the jars. These ceramic grave
adults, immatures (children), and human remains that are goods, as defined by Dunand, include several series of
too poorly preserved to be categorised. The remains pots, goblets, bowls, and cups. The fact that the jars were
considered to be immature are those described as being a protected contributed to the good preservation of the
“young child,” a “very young,” a “newborn,” an “infant,” ceramic ware.
an “8 year-old child,” a “child a few months old,” a “very
small child,” a “child a few years old.” The imprecise Ceramics were found in inhumations in all zones of the
nature of dating this information made further division of site.
human remains into more specific groups impossible.
Metal artefacts
Hypotheses or conclusions concerning the individual’s
sex have been avoided, as the categories “male” and This category includes all metal objects (88% made of
“female” were arbitrarily assigned and represent only 3% copper, 11% of silver), with the exception of
of the total number of human remains found7. ornaments; they represent 1% of the inclusions found in
jars. This artefact type varies, from the first metal hooks
Grave goods made of copper to daggers, which were found in large
In general, the burials yielded abundant grave goods, with
an average of 3 objects per burial. According to the A total of 44 metal objects were discovered, and very few
of them came from non-funerary contexts of the same
The sex of 62 individuals was identified from a total of 644 adults period at Byblos. It is interesting to note that metal
(Özbek 1976). artefacts were absent from zones C, H and K.


Stone artefacts First of all, the inhumations in non-typical jars contained

exclusively infant burials. Unfortunately, the sex of
Stone artefacts, which include the heavier items, are rare infants could not be determined. In 9 of the burials,
and constitute only 1% of the total grave goods found. 26 various jar shapes were used (baratte8, bocal9, cratère10,
stone objects were discovered; they were made from jatte, pot, vase tripode). In each case, the atypical jar
either limestone or basalt, and were, for the most part, shape was reserved for newborn and infant burials. This
distributed in the south-western zones and more rarely in tradition is common in the Neolithic (Dunand 1973).
the central and northern zones. The most frequently found
stone artefacts were cups, mace-heads, goblets, bowls and Next, the vast majority of infant burials were found in
polished pebbles. Many different types of stone were small jars (between 0,20 and 0,70 m high) that had been
used, but the majority of the artefacts were made of interred in a vertical position. This differs from the
limestone. majority of adults who were buried horizontally, for the
most part, in larger jars. These receptacles were rarely
Lithic industry found in a vertical or inclined position. We can deduce
from these findings that jars of different sizes were used
Of the 209 lithic objects found in burials, the majority according to the age of the deceased, and that the position
were made of flint and 8% of obsidian. Although these of the containers depended on their size and weight. The
grave goods were found across the site, they were vertical position was reserved for the smallest individuals.
somewhat rarer in the northern and eastern sectors.
Finally, the funerary material found in the Byblos burials
Lithic industry comprises 6% of the grave goods consists of commonly used objects (tools, “vaisselle”,
discovered. In spite of the abundance of polished axes and ornaments), and ceramic artefacts made for burial
adzes in domestic contexts, flint weapons were rarely purposes (Dunand 1973; Balfet 1962; Epstein 2001). The
discovered in burials. Flint flakes were frequently found, presence of this type of inclusions suggests that the
but only a small number of tools were discovered in jars. deceased were not always buried with their personal
Bone and ivory artefacts
Certain authors of the Byblos inventory description cards
The bone and ivory artefacts were completely absent from consider burials containing jewellery and ornamental
the central and the northern zones, and represent only 1% headdresses as having belonged to women, while male
of the grave goods discovered. Amongst the bone burials included “weapons” and “daggers”. M. Chehab
artefacts that were re-worked, there were awls (found in (1950) believed that burials containing a large number of
abundance), blades, pins and goblets (somewhat rarer). grave goods (especially metal objects) had belonged to
The bone artefacts represent 91% of the objects belonging chiefs. Can we speak of social hierarchy if we only take
to this category, while only 9% were made of ivory. into consideration the presence or absence of metal to
arbitrarily attribute grave goods to one sex or the other?
Art objects and ornaments
Ceramic grave goods were frequently associated with
1271 art objects and ornaments made from silver, metal and stone goods, and were discovered, for the most
limestone, cornelian, bone, ivory, shell and obsidian were part, in multiple burials. Art objects and other orna-
recovered from 255 burials. This category of objects was ments were often found in child inhumations (Figs. 9.5
frequently found throughout the entire site, and adds up to and 9.6).
a total of 35% of the grave goods discovered. It is
interesting to note that various elements of adornments If we consider the differences in the nature and quantity
are frequently found, and in particular discoid, biconical of grave goods found in the burials, it may seem that
and spherical beads, rings and pendants. The majority are certain individuals had a higher status than others in
made of silver; artefacts made of gold are very rare. Byblos’ énéolithique society. However, one has to be
cautious with this hypothesis as the site was occupied for
The art objects are represented by some small sculptures, a millennium. During this period, new materials and
notably figurines made of stone or ivory. The glyptics techniques were introduced while others were abandoned.
includes several clay cylinders and stone or ivory seals. Certain objects were also made especially for burial with
their owner. Thus, the establishment of a hierarchical
order based on grave goods is very problematic.
The baratte (burial No. 1735) is displayed in case No. 2, first floor of
From the funerary contexts, human remains and the grave the Musée National de Beyrouth.
goods just mentioned, certain associations within the Word used by M. Dunand (1939, 379 & 1973, 281). It is not listed in
entire sample become evident. By compiling the available Dictionnaire illustré multilingue de la céramique du Proche-Orient
ancien (Yon 1981).
evidence from the analysis of funerary contexts, the 10
The cratère (burial No. 1329) is on display at the Musée de la
following preliminary observations can be made: Citadelle de Byblos, which opened in 2001.



The analysis of chrono-spatial data provided information

on two research areas: the spatial development of the
“necropolis”, and the relations existing between burials
and habitation structures.

In the absence of stratigraphical and chronological data,

and with the impossibility of making any qualitative
analysis, the reconstruction of the site’s development is
based on the quantitative study of grave goods, and the
pattern of the construction of habitation structures
throughout the site. The quantitative study of grave goods,
based on the observation of rarity of certain materials,
enables us to understand the development of the

The stone goods were present in abundance in zone L (in

the south-west), which corresponds to the ancient area of
the site. The presence of this artefact type fades away
progressively to the east and south, and disappears
Fig. 9.5. Metal artefact (burial No. 1669) completely in zone C (in the hills and to the north). In
(Cliché Fonds Dunand archives) addition to this, no goods made of bone were found in

Fig. 9.6. Ornaments (burial No. 92) (Cliché Fonds Dunand archives)


zones A, B and C (the central zones). These facts reveal discovery would modify our hypotheses. Even though we
that the inclusion of bone and stone artefacts in funerary lack certain information which would contribute to our
contexts was abandoned prior to the spread of the understanding, Byblos stands as one of the most
“necropolis” to the centre and to the north. This phenol- important discoveries of human occupation in the region
menon coincides with the development and inclusion of a during the 4th millennium. Hopefully in the future, a
new material, metal. It appears that the “necropolis” comprehensive qualitative study of material from Byblos
developed gradually from south-west to north-east, going will be made, which will give us a much better
around the central zones A, B and C (fig. 9.1). understanding of this formative period in the eastern
The occupation of the space by burials and habitation
structures has the same chronological progression
throughout the site. Spatial occupation and the use of the References
site appear to have started in the west and progressed to
the east, with a tendency to occupy the flat areas. The ARTIN, G. 2005. La “nécropole énéolithique” de
site’s occupation terminated in the north (fig. 9.1). Byblos: nouvelles interprétations. Thèse de Doctorat,
Université Lumière Lyon 2.
After having studied the plans closely, analysing (a) the BALFET, H. 1962. Céramique ancienne au Proche-
distribution of habitation structures, (b) the burials for Orient, Israël et Liban, VIIe-IIIe millénaires: étude
which geographic coordinates are available, and (c) the technique. Paris: Thèse de 3e cycle.
burial below the floors of the habitations, we come to
further interesting conclusions. CHEHAB, M. 1950. Tombes des chefs d’époque
énéolithique trouvées à Byblos. Bulletin du Musée de
First of all, only 5.5% of the burials were situated under Beyrouth 9: 75-85.
the house floors (sous les logis is the term utilised by DUNAND, M. 1973. Fouilles de Byblos, tome V.
Dunand to designate houses). An equal number of adults L’architecture, les tombes, le matériel domestique des
and immatures (children) were buried there. This origines néolithiques à l’avènement urbain. Paris:
observation contradicts the hypothesis that the under floor Maisonneuve.
burials were reserved for children only. Secondly, only EPSTEIN, C. 2001. The Significance of Ceramic
4% of the other burials were found within 2.5 metres of Assemblages in Chalcolithic Burial Contexts in Israel
habitation structures. This distance is double the average and Neighboring Regions in the Southern Levant.
length of the jars from Byblos. Levant 33: 81-94.
We can say that only 10% of the burials were under the LE MORT, F. & R. RABINOVICH 1994. L’apport de
habitation structures or in their immediate vicinity and l’étude taphonomique des restes humains à la
that the inhabitants of Byblos normally buried their dead connaissance des pratiques funéraires: exemple du site
at least some distance from their houses. It is highly chalcolithique de Ben Shemen (Israël). Paléorient
probable that certain areas of the settlement were 20/1: 69-98.
forgotten or abandoned after having been occupied by LE MORT, F. & R. RABINOVICH 2002. Taphonomy
burials or habitation structures. The growth of the site was and Mortuary Practices, in Y. Goren & P. Fabian
at times limited, or even diminished. These facts reveal (eds.) Kissufim Road. A Chalcolithic Mortuary Site.
the complexity of the énéolithique “necropolis” of Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority Reports 16.
Byblos. ÖZBEK, M. 1976. Hommes de Byblos. Étude compa-
rative des squelettes des âges des métaux au Proche-
Orient. Thèse de 3e cycle. Université de Bordeaux.
YON, M. 1981. Dictionnaire illustré multilingue de la
Byblos differs from other sites in central and northern céramique du Proche-Orient ancien. Lyon: Maison de
Levant, but similar sites probably exist, and their l’Orient.

National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia,

National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia,

Abstract: Prehistoric Bulgaria is well known thanks to the spectacular finds of the Chalcolithic cemeteries. Varna cemetery is the
wealthiest, with the pronounced social differentiation and hierarchy of the deceased manifested. The cemetery of Durankulak has
always been somewhat in the shadow of its famous counterpart near Varna, although it offers certain purely cognitive advantages.
The complete analysis and publication of the cemetery, with its exhaustive catalog of the grave goods, reveal a spectrum of problems
and one of them is the grave goods differentiation related to the sex and age of the deceased. This article is focused on the flint
artifacts as gifts at the baby and child burials.
Keywords: cemetery, grave-goods, neonatus, infans, flint artifacts, Hamangia and Varna cultures

Résumé: La Bulgarie préhistorique est bien connue grâce aux trouvailles spectaculaires de ses nécropoles chalcolithiques et surtout
celle de Varna, où le contexte funéraire manifeste une forte différentiation sociale et hiérarchique des défunts. Malgré le fait d’avoir
toujours été un peu éclipsée par la célébrité de Varna, la nécropole de Durankulak présente certains avantages proprement cognitifs.
Une étude et une publication complète, accompagnées d’un catalogue exhaustif des sépultures, permettent de relever une problé-
matique nuancée, dont une partie consiste en une différentiation du mobilier en relation avec l’âge et le sexe des inhumés. L’article
aborde ce problème du point de vue des artefacts en silex, présentés comme mobilier funéraire dans les sépultures enfantines.
Mots Clefs: nécropole, mobilier funéraire, neonatus, infans, artefact en silex, cultures de Hamangia et Varna

INTRODUCTION du Chalcolithique. Dans la plupart d’entre elles, le

nombre des tombes d'enfants est considérablement
Dans notre lecture et notre compréhension du passé, inférieur au nombre des tombes d’adultes (tableau 10.1).
l’analyse exhaustive du mobilier funéraire permet de Il y a une exception – le cimetière de Demir baba où,
concevoir le concept épistémologique de “sacré” versus parmi 10 tombes au total, 7 contiennent des enfants. A
“profane et domestique”. La présence des objets en silex l'autre extrémité se trouve le cimetière d’Omurtag, où
parmi le mobilier funéraire révèle autant leur statut sym- aucune inhumation d’enfant n’est attestée. Par principe, la
bolique secondaire que l’importance de les considérer au détermination précise de l’âge des enfants décédés est
même titre que les autres offrandes et objets personnels assez rare et la distinction des groupes Infans I et Infans II
des dépôts rituels. Les sépultures des nouveau-nés et des varie d’une nécropole à l’autre. En règle générale, les
enfants représentent une catégorie intéressante à cause du données anthropologiques fiables sur les nouveau-nés
statut particulier que les défunts ont eu comme vivants au (jusqu’à 1 an) sont plutôt exceptionnelles. Cette situation
sein du réseau familial et du système social. D’autre part, factuelle est en totale contradiction avec la mortalité
il y a une tentation perpétuelle de dévoiler autant que ordinaire des enfants à cette époque-là, qui est au plus
possible les croyances méconnues de la vie après la mort, haut chez les nouveau-nés et diminue graduellement avec
toujours séduisante et jamais perceptible. Les besoins spi- l’âge. La nécropole de Durankulak nous offre une réponse
rituels des nos ancêtres, concrétisés par des rites funéraires plausible à ce paradoxe, issue du contexte même du
variés, représentent un domaine compliqué, où la lecture de terrain – l’utilisation d’une structure sépulcrale en pierre
faits archéologiques peut facilement être suivie d’interpré- qui matérialise la fosse primaire. Cet aménagement des
tations spéculatives et non pertinentes. Il faut souligner sépultures, y compris de nouveau-nés, en vigueur pendant
l’importance des études complexes du mobilier et des la culture Varna, permet de constater la présence de
pratiques funéraires issues de nécropoles préhistoriques, tombes même s’il n’y a ni squelette, ni mobilier funéraire:
afin d’éviter une précarité gnoséologique, consistant en des un fait qui est très important relativement aux nouveau-
reconstructions basées sur des données archéologiques nés et aux enfants dont les ossements sont les plus
insuffisamment fiables (c.-à.-d isolées et anecdotiques). vulnérables aux altérations post-dépositionnelles. Ce fait
et cette démarche d’identification des sépultures de
nouveaux-nés expliquent le fait que dans le tableau 10.1
DURANKULAK – UN PHENOMENE le nombre de ces sépultures est si élevé.
Il convient de présenter ici dans un cadre général ce réel
Sur le territoire de la Bulgarie, il y a 11 nécropoles phénomène archéologique. Cette nécropole, en effet, est
préhistoriques (avec plus de 10 sépultures) – datant surtout l’unique dont les restes archéologiques aient été complè-


Tableau 10.1. Tableau général des sépultures d’après l’âge et le mobilier en silex: total - ◘ silex -▲
Goliamo Targovi- Dеmir
Durankulak Varna I Devnia Vinitsa Polianitsa Radingrad Balbunar
Delchevo shte baba
tombe ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲ ◘ ▲
noveau-né 125 17 2 1
Inf I 43 2 1 1 1 3 1 2 1 1
Inf. II 28 6 1 1 0 6 1 6 1 1
enfant 80 5 10 2 3 2 2 1 8 1 5 3
Juv. 74 3 19 3 1 1 2
Adult. 667 140 66 24 5 4 14 3 25 2 8 1 8
indeterminé 110 61 47 6 4 2 1 6 1 7 10 5 3 1 19 6
detruit 87 37 6 2 4 4 1 4 1 3 2 1
cénotaphe 53 20 49 32 4 1 3 7 3
total 1190 191 295 146 26 13 30 5 53 9 11 1 23 2 21 6 10 2 24 7

tement étudiés et publiés (Todorova 2002). Bien qu’elle ossements bien préservés jusqu’à ceux complètement
ait été éclipsée par la célébrité du cimetière de Varna (où détruits. On peut distinguer 3 groupes de sépultures:
le contexte funéraire manifeste une forte différentiation
I. Les squelettes suffisamment bien conservés pour une
sociale et hiérarchique des défunts), la nécropole de
expertise anthropologique fiable. D’après l’âge des
Durankulak possède quand même certains avantages
défunts, on peut les déterminer comme:
proprement cognitifs. Située près de la frontière roumaine
sur le littoral bulgare, elle illustre une séquence très – Neonatus – nouveau-nés 0 - 1 an;
importante du Néolithique récent jusqu’au Chalco- – Infans I – enfant d’1 jusqu’aux 7 ans;
lithique final, qui permet d’observer et de reconstituer de
– Infans II – enfant de 7 jusqu'aux 14 ans.
manière diachronique les pratiques funéraires (avec leurs
caractères variables) de la communauté locale, dont le site II. Les sépultures dont les restes osseux ne permettent
d’habitat se trouve à 200 m au nord. Cela représente un pas une expertise anthropologique, et dont l’âge est
intervalle de temps de presque un millénaire, et une bonne intégré dans la catégorie globale “enfants”.
illustration du développement des cultures Hamangia et
III. Il y a une autre catégorie de tombes ne possédant
Varna, qui se présentent de la manière suivante:
aucune trace de squelette. L’indication que dans un tel
Hamangia ancienne (phases I, II) – Néolithique récent; cas il s’agit de tombe porte sur 2 faits du terrain:
Hamangia III – début du Chalcolithique; a/ la présence de la structure sépulcrale. Dans le
Hamangia IV – Chalcolithique moyen, période de tran- paléosol loessique les fosses primaires ne sont pas
sition évolutive; visibles. Ces structures (agencements) en pierre
sont traitées comme indices de sépultures; elles
Varna – Chalcolithique final. apparaissent à la fin de la culture Hamangia et
représentent une pratique ordinaire pendant la cul-
Le cadre chronologique absolu des étapes culturelles est ture de Varna (Bojadžiev 2001, 109-112; 2002b).
présenté ci-dessous: Le plus souvent, il s’agit de dalles en pierre posées
Hamangia I-II 5250/5200 - 4950/4900 cal. BC horizontalement au dessus de la sépulture, mais
dans certains cas plus rares, ces dalles sont
Hamangia III 4950/4900 - 4650/4600 cal. BC attestées en position verticale, entourant l’espace
Hamangia IV 4650/4600 - 4550/4500 cal. BC d’inhumation.
b/ la présence du mobilier funéraire – offrandes et
Varna I 4550/4500 - 4450/4400 cal. BC objets personnels. L’absence de restes humains
Varna II-II 4450/4400 - 4250/4150 cal. BC (Bojadžiev pourrait être expliquée soit par le squelette com-
2002a, 67) plètement détruit, soit par une sépulture symboli-
que (cénotaphe). La distinction entre cénotaphe et
bébé (squelette disparu) est possible, mais cela
SEPULTURES DE NOUVEAU-NES ET varie en fonction du contexte culturel. En ce qui
D’ENFANTS: PROBLEMATIQUE concerne Hamangia, il faut savoir que le mobilier
funéraire est relativement pauvre et ne révèle pas
De la nécropole de Durankulak proviennent les restes de de manière bien marquée l’âge et le sexe. Le mobi-
squelettes en différents états de conservation: depuis les lier des enfants et des adultes n’est pas clairement


Fig. 10.1. Durankulak, sépultures de nouveau-nés avec du mobilier funéraire.

L’illustration est faite par M. Gurova (adaptée du catalogue publié dans H. Todorova 2002, 2/2)

distinct, parfois les offrandes liées aux enfants comparaison provient de la dimension d’agence-
dépassent en quantité et valeur celles des adultes ment des dalles de pierre (respectivement – de la
(Bojadžiev 2003, 51; 2004, 73-74). Pour cette fosse primaire).
raison la distinction claire bébé/cénotaphe est très
difficile et incertaine au sein de cette culture. A Malgré les circonstances et les obstacles mentionnés ci-
l’inverse, cela ne pose pas grand problème de les dessus, l’analyse du contexte funéraire à Durankulak
distinguer parmi les sépultures de Varna, où le montre que les enfants ont été inhumés dans la nécropole
mobilier est beaucoup plus différencié en fonction comme les autres membres de la communauté, mais le
de l’âge et du sexe. Un élément complémentaire de nombre et la densité des tombes d’enfants varient d’une


phase à l’autre. Par ex. le nombre des sépultures d’enfants du mobilier funéraire augmente sensiblement, parallèle-
enregistrées à Hamangia I-III est de 29 (5,8 %), et il ment à l’accroissement général du nombre des sépultures
augmente progressivement pendant les périodes suivantes et de leur représentativité (sur le plan du mobilier et des
de Hamangia IV et Varna. A la différence de Hamangia, pratiques funéraires).
durant la phase Varna les ossements de nouveau-nés sont
sûrement attestés et identifiés, mais les cas semblables ne A Durankulak il y a 7 tombes identifiées par un anthro-
sont pas nombreux. L’analyse des sépultures en total pologue comme tombes de nouveau-nés (№ 525, 531,
montre un taux très élevé de sépultures d’enfants – 40%. 719, 724, 876, 1194, 1194A), mais aucune d’elles ne
Il faut pourtant souligner que la plupart d’entre eux ne contient d’artefacts en silex. Il n’y en a pas non plus
possèdent aucun reste osseux et que l’identification re- parmi les tombes d’Infans I (1-7 ans), au nombre de 43.
pose sur les données contextuelles – caractère du mobilier Le second groupe d’Infans II (7-14 ans) contient certaines
et agencement de la structure sépulcrale (Bojadžiev 2003, sépultures avec du mobilier en silex (№ 154, 236, 358,
56-57). 433, 559 et 649) qui représentent un taux de 20% de la
totalité des tombes de ce groupe (Fig. 10.2).
Presque la moitié des sépultures enfantines contiennent un
certain spectre d’offrandes dans lequel on peut distinguer En règle générale il faut souligner le fait que les
les catégories suivantes: sépultures des groupes Infans I et surtout Infans II sont les
plus significatives du point de vue de la compréhension
– objets considérés comme habituels et ordinaires pour un (et de l’interprétation) adéquate des sépultures d’enfants.
enfant – les récipients en argile qui sont présumés A cause du squelette conservé (dont la position est
comme contenant de la nourriture1 et effets personnels, d’habitude allongé sur le dos - pour les garçons, et replié
comme de la parure par. ex.2 sur le flanc droit – pour les filles) on peut concevoir la
– à côté de ces objets il y du mobilier qui peut être moins sépulture comme un ensemble clos et intact, offrant une
naturellement attribuable aux enfants – ce sont éléments image fidèle du rituel funéraire et de ses suggestions
des outillages en silex, pierre taillée et os, parmi symboliques et spirituelles. D’autre part (et on aborde ici
lesquels il y a des outils utilisés. le problème qui mérite la discussion épistémologique) la
démarche interprétative doit se limiter à la considération
En règle générale les artefacts en silex sont (après la et à la corrélation des faits étudiés (dans ce cas les
poterie bien sûr) parmi les objets les plus répandus sépultures) pour qu’ils gardent leur valeur adéquate au
comme mobilier funéraire d’enfants. C’est la raison pour sein du contexte funéraire global.
laquelle on va se concentrer ici sur cette catégorie de
mobilier. En effet, M. Gurova a eu la possibilité Le tableau 10.2 montre le ratio 4/2 des tombes des
d’effectuer une étude tracéologique du mobilier en silex différentes phases en faveur de celles de Varna. L’analyse
de la nécropole Durankulak, dont les résultats mettent en des artefacts en silex révèle un petit assemblage
évidence une information supplémentaire sur la sélection hétérogène: les produits de débitage (lames et éclats bruts)
(consciente ou aléatoire) des artefacts en silex de leur aussi bien que les outils retouchés sont présents. Les
contexte inhérent et domestique et leur transition fonctions déterminées sont variées autant du point de vue
postérieure au “fonctionnement” sacré des offrandes des matières travaillées que de la cinématique d’opéra-
funéraires3. tions, mais néanmoins la découpe prédomine parmi les
gestes effectués. Il n’est pas exclu, mais il n’est pas
certain non plus, que ces outils aient été utilisés par les
MOBILIER FUNERAIRE EN SILEX défunts de leur vivant.

Les artefacts en silex sont rarement isolés dans le mobilier Les artefacts en silex sont attestés dans 8 sépultures sans
de la nécropole. C’est également valable pour les tombes ossements humains, mais les petites dimensions des
d’enfants/nouveau-nés. Les combinaisons d’offrandes et structures sépulcrales en dalles de pierre incitent à les
d’effets personnels sont les moins nombreuses pendant les considérer comme des sépultures de nouveau-nés (№ 415,
phases anciennes Hamangia I-III. Dans certains cas 573, 700, 701, 716, 782, 234, 5664) (Fig. 10.1).
exceptionnels il n’y a que du silex (Gr 76: Hamangia I-II
et Gr 782: Hamangia III), de même que Hamangia IV (Gr Il est évident à l’examen du tableau 10.3, que dans le cas
701). La tombe № 154 constitue un cas intéressant où une de nouveau-nés il n’y a pas différence prononcée en
lame retouchée et utilisée est accompagnée d’une dent de comparaison des données déjà présentées pour les enfants
Cervidae. Les plus nombreuses sont les combinaisons du IIème groupe: il y a une variété de types d’artefacts
avec de la céramique. Pendant la phase Varna la diversité aussi bien qu’une variété de fonctions. D’autre part il faut
souligner que les tombes attribuées aux phases de
Malheureusement, il n’y a pas d’analyse de résidus sur les poteries, qui Hamangia et, surtout Hamangia IV prédominent considé-
permettraient d’éclaircir ce problème. rablement par rapport aux sépultures de phase Varna, un
La distinction offrande/effets personnels qu’on utilise est d’après J. et
M. Lichardus (Lichardus & Lichardus-Itten 1985). 4
D’après les dimensions des agencements de pierres, les 2 dernières
L’analyse tracéologique a été effectuée à l’aide des microscopes MBS sépultures appartiennent probablement à des individus dont l’âge
10 (x 100) et METAM P1 (x 400). dépasse 1 an.


Fig. 10.2. Durankulak, sépultures de l’Infans II avec du mobilier funéraire.

L’illustration est faite par M. Gurova (adaptée du catalogue publié dans H. Todorova 2002, 2/2)


Tableau 10.2. Sépultures d’enfants (Infans II 7-14 ans)

tombe artefact en silex fonction période
154 lame retouchée – fragm. raclage de bois Hamangia I-II
649 éclat brut non identifiée- poli naturel Hamangia III
outil combiné tritranchant: découpe de roseaux;
358 grattoir sur LR
raclage de bois; assouplissement de peau
Varna I
lame brute – fragm. découpe de tissus carnés x 1
lame brute – fragm. sans traces d’utilisation
559 lame brute – fragm. découpe de tissus carnés x 2 Varna II-III
236 grattoir sur lame raclage de bois Varna

Tableau 10.3. Sépultures de nouveau-nés déterminées d’après le contexte funéraire

tombe artefact en silex fonction période
716 lame retouchée – fragm. non identifiée - poli naturel
Hamangia III
782 lame tronquée armature de faucille x 1
234 lame brute – fragm. découpe de tissus carnés x 1
566 lame tronquée Indéterminée - altération naturelle
Hamangia IV
701 grande lame brute outil combiné bitranchant: découpe de roseaux et de tissus carnés
415 éclat brut sans traces d’utilisation
700 grattoir semi-circulaire grattage de peau Varna I
573 lame brute – fragm. non identifiée – poli naturel Varna

fait qui ne corrobore pas le ratio diachronique des autres de sépultures reste incomplète parce que un certain
catégories de sépultures (y compris de celles d’enfants). nombre des pièces n’ont pas été mis à disposition pour
L’explication repose probablement sur des difficultés l’étude.
réelles de distinguer les sépultures de nouveau-nés,
dénuées d’ossements. De même, il n’est pas exclu que
pendant les phases les plus anciennes de la nécropole, il y CONCLUSION
ait eu une affinité spéciale des objets en silex comme
objets funéraires pour l’inhumation de nouveau-nés. Pour concevoir de manière adéquate les rapports entre les
sépultures d’enfants et les connotations fonctionnelles des
Cinq sépultures (№ 76, 217, 218, 365, 423) avec des silex présents comme mobilier funéraire, il convient de
artefacts en silex sont interprétées comme tombes rappeler en bref les conclusions tirées de l’étude
d’enfants “lato sensu” sur la base des dimensions de la tracéologique d’assemblages entiers en silex (Gurova
fosse sépulcrale, de la présence de petits fragments osseux 2002, 252).
(y compris de dents) et du caractère du mobilier funéraire
disponible (tableau 10.4). – Dans un aspect diachronique la situation pendant les
phases Hamangia I-III est très semblable. Hamangia IV
Dans le contexte de la nécropole sont attestés 9 cas de est marqué par une réduction quantitative du silex, et une
découvertes d’artefacts en silex, soit isolés (№ 50A et augmentation du nombre de pièces utilisées. La phase
837A), soit en combinaison avec d’autres types de Varna montre un nombre sensiblement accru de sépultu-
mobilier: poteries (№ 2A, 510A, 476A, 764A), parures res contenant du silex, de pièces déposées et de spécimens
(№ 39A, 614A), les deux (№ 571A). Malgré l’absence utilisés (Gurova 2002, 252).
d’indices sûrs (ossements et construction sépulcrale), ces
tombes sont interprétées dans la publication comme Dans cette optique les résultats issus des tombes d’enfants
nouveau-nés/enfants (Todorova et al. 2002). D’un autre (malgré leur aspect un peu partiel) montre une augmen-
côté, il n’est pas exclu que certaines d’entre elles (et tation progressive du nombre de silex ayant servi comme
surtout les tombes de la phase Hamangia) soient des mobilier funéraire H I-III: H IV: V respectivement 8: 9:
cénotaphes (Bojadžiev 2004). 12.

Malheureusement, cela ressort de l’examen du tableau – Parmi les fonctions déterminées sur le total de silex de
10.4, l’information tirée des objets en silex de ces groupes la nécropole les plus fréquentes sont la découpe de tissus


Tableau 10.4. Sépultures d’enfants identifiées sans certitude

tombe artefact en silex fonction période
76 grattoir sur éclat sans traces d’utilisation Hamangia I-II
423 lame retouchée x 2 sciage de bois
Hamangia IV
365 lame brute non analysée
218 burin sur cassure sans traces d’utilisation Varna I
217 grattoir semi-circulaire sans traces d’utilisation Varna II-III
614A lame retouchée x 2 non analysée Hamangia I-II
476A lame? non analysée
764A lame brute – fragm. non analysée
39A lame brute – fragm. non analysée
510A lame brute – fragm. non analysée Hamangia IV
571A lame tronquée? non analysée
837A lame? non analysée Varna
lame retouchée x 2; raclage de bois;
2A Varna II
lame brute découpe de tissus carnés x 2
50A perçoir non analysée indéterminé

carnés; armature de faucille et pointe de projectile Il n’y a pas non plus un rapport direct entre les silex–
(flèche). offrandes et leur valeur utilitaire et domestique. Pour
qu’ils aient été introduits dans le contexte mortuaire, ils
Les fonctions attestées sur les silex de tombes d’enfants ont évidemment été chargés d’une connotation spirituelle
sont assez variées et sans aucune prédominance marquée. et symbolique.
Il y a 2 cas avec des pièces représentant des outils
combinés avec des fonctions clairement multiples et Le mobilier funéraire (considéré de manière égale dans un
sophistiquées. Les pointes de projectile sont totalement sens quantitatif et qualitatif) permet de supposer que les
absentes, parce qu’elles ne sont attribuables qu’aux enfants ont été l’objet de rites cérémoniels de la même
sépultures masculines. manière que les adultes. Ce fait les rend, malgré leur mort
prématurée, respectés et considérés comme les membres
– Parmi le mobilier de la nécropole sont attestés les soi- normaux des réseaux familiaux et sociaux auxquels ils
disant “outils/nécessaires de tailleurs de vêtements” à appartenaient. C’est une conclusion assez générale et peu
priori attribués à une activité assez particulière et plutôt spectaculaire, mais elle est pertinente, parce qu’elle ne
féminine. Ils consistent en 3-4 types d’objets: poinçon cherche pas à révéler les valeurs symboliques exagérées
(parfois aiguille) en os, artefact en silex, petit galets des faits extraits de leur contexte.
(lissoirs) en pierre et coquillage, mets dans un vase
céramique. L’analyse plus détaillée de cet outillage a
montré la variabilité fonctionnelle des éléments en silex DISCUSSION
que n’indique pas une cohérence entre l’idée du départ et
la situation révélée (Gurova 2006, 4-5). Les problèmes du culte et de la religion ont été depuis
toujours abordés par les archéologues. Néanmoins, une
Même parmi les tombes d’enfants il y a 3 de ces analyse véritablement épistémologique, effectuée récem-
“nécessaires de tailleurs de vêtements”, dont un possède ment par T. Insoll, montre que l’archéologie de la religion
un artefact en silex. doit surmonter beaucoup de préjugés et de difficultés
méthodologiques (Insoll 2004). C’est le cadre le plus
L’analyse des artefacts en silex met aussi en évidence le général de la problématique.
fait qu’il n’y a pas une préférence prononcée vis-à-vis
des types de pièces en silex sélectionnées pour être Depuis des décennies, dans les recherches sur les
déposées dans les tombes d’enfants. En générale les pratiques funéraires, il y a un malentendu qui demeure et
silex-offrandes ne varient pas considérablement en qui se reproduit: c’est la détermination des sexes. Les
fonction de l’âge et du sexe des défunts. Il y a quand déterminations qui s’appuient sur la composition du
même 2 exceptions: les pointes de projectile et les mobilier sont qualifiées d’“archéologiques” et elles s’op-
grandes (super lames) qui n’existent pas parmi le posent aux déterminations anthropologiques (Jeunesse
mobilier des enfants. 1997, 95). Ce problème entraîne beaucoup de consé-


quences nuisibles, mais il persiste toujours et, dans un BOJADZIEV, J. 2002a. Die absolute Chronologie der
certains sens, il semble être inévitable et insoluble. neo- und äneolithischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak,
in H. Todorova (Hrsg.) Durankulak, 2/1. Die
En ce qui concerne le cas concret de notre recherche sur prähistorischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak: 67-69.
Durankulak, on a déjà mentionné le problème des Sofia: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.
données archéologiques et de la pertinence des BOJADZIEV, J. 2002b. Die Grabanlagen der prähisto-
interprétations élaborées sur leur base. Pour illustrer ces rischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak, in H. Todorova
effets consécutifs, on va avancer ici un simple exemple. (Hrsg.) Durankulak, 2/1. Die Prähisto-rischen Grä-
berfelder von Durankulak: 71-80. Sofia: Deutsches
Si on prend le pourcentage des artefacts en silex des Archäologisches Institut.
différents groupes de sépultures d’enfants, les résultats
apparents sont assez bizarres: un taux élevé et inattendu BOYADZHIEV, Y. 2004. Über die frühesten symbo-
de nouveau-nés (proche de celui des adultes), aucun lischen Bestattungen, in V. Nikolov & K. Bacvarov
exemple parmi les Infans I, tandis que pour les Infans II le (Hrsg.) Von Domica bis Drama. Gedenkschrift für Jan
taux est le plus élevé parmi tous les groupes d’âge. Ces Lichardus: 73-77. Sofia: Archäologisches Institut mit
pourcentages ne peuvent pas être admis comme réels à Museum
cause des difficultés, déjà mentionnées, liées à la GUROVA, M. 2002. Mobilier en silex de la nécropole
distinction adéquate les sépultures de bébés. Une partie Dourankulak – analyse fonctionnelle, in H. Todorova
d’entre elles sont probablement des enfants d’âge (Hrsg.) Durankulak, 2/1. Die prähistorischen Grä-
supérieur à un an. Il n’est pas exclu non plus qu’une autre berfelder von Durankulak: 247-256. Sofia: Deutsches
partie constitue en effet des cénotaphes. Troisièmement, Archäologisches Institut.
le groupe d’enfants “lato sensu” pourrait contenir un bon GUROVA, M. 2006. Prehistoric flints as grave goods/
nombre d’Infans II, ce qui va mener à une réduction du hoards: functional connotation, Archaeologia Bulga-
taux de sépultures avec du silex parmi ce groupe. rica 1: 1-14.
Encore plus graves et frappants deviennent ces INSOLL, T. 2004. Archaeology, Ritual, Religion. London
différences et inconvénients si on prend les autres & New York: Routledge.
nécropoles où le sépultures au total et celles d’enfants JEUNESSE, C. 1997. Pratiques funéraires au Néolithique
sont très peu nombreuses. Dans les cas pareils, chaque ancien. Sépultures et nécropoles des sociétés
tentative de tirer des comparaisons et des conclusions danubiennes (5500/-4900 av J.C.). Paris: Editons
valables à partir des données empiriques non fiables Errance.
risque de créer une image inconsciemment spéculative et LICHARDUS, J. & M. LICHARDUS-ITTEN. 1985. La
irréelle, ce qui ne fait pas partie des objectifs proprement protohistoire de l’Europe. Le Néolithique et le
scientifiques de notre recherche. Chalcolithique. Paris: Presse Universitaire de France.
TODOROVA, H. (Hrsg.) 2002. Durankulak, 2/1,2. Die
Bibliographie prähistorischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak. Sofia:
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.
BOYADŽIEV, Y. 2001. Погребални съоръжения в TODOROVA, H., T. DIMOV, J. BOJADŽIEV, I.
праисторическия некропол при село Дуранкулак, VAJSOV, K. DIMITROV & M. AVRAMOVA. 2002.
Годишник на Археологическия институт с музей Katalog der prähistorischen Gräber von Durankulak,
1: 95-128. in H. Todorova (Hrsg.) Durankulak, 2/2. Die
BOYADŽIEV, Y. 2003. По въпроса за местополо- Prähistorischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak: 31-
жението на детските гробове през неолита и 125. Sofia: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.
халколита, Добруджа 21: 48-62.

Belgrade University, Serbia,

Abstract: The aim of the sex and age-at-death determination of seven subadult skeletons from the late Neolithic cemetery at
Gomolava was to see if these biological categories had been critical for the subadult burials there. The results point to the sex as
possible choice criterion for subadult burials because at Gomolava only boys are buried. The age did not determine access to burial
since these subadults were of different age, from newborn babies to seven years old boy. The age could have been a possible burial
location determinate for all of the children except one boy were buried out of the cemetery’s center.
Key words: Vinča culture, Gomolava, subadults, sex, age, kinship

Résumé: L’analyse du sexe et de l’âge de sept squelettes d’enfants trouvés dans la nécropole du néolithique tardif à Gomolava avait
pour but d’établir si ces catégories biologiques ont été importantes pour la sélections d’enfants qui devaient être enterrés dans cet
endroit. Les résultats montrent que le choix d’enfants probablement dépendait de leur sexe, parce qu’à Gomolava n’ont été enterrés
que des garçons. L’âge ne représentait pas une condition restrictive pour obtenir un site funéraire car les garçons avaient des âges
différents, les plus jeunes étant des nouveaux nés et les plus âgés ayant sept ans. L’âge pouvait être important quand il s’agissait
d’obtenir un site funéraire sur une position spécifique sur la nécropole car tous les garçons, sauf un, ont été enterrés en dehors de
l’espace central.
Mots-clés: Vinča culture, Gomolava, enfants, sexe, âge, parenté

INTRODUCTION This paper examines the age at death and sex of the
subadults from the Gomolava cemetery to answer the
At the late Neolithic cemetery of Gomolava, near the question if these biological categories are the critical
village of Hrtkovci in Srem, twenty-seven inhumations conditions for the presence of subadults there (Table
have been excavated, the most of them in contracted 11.1). The spatial distribution of subadult burials is also
position on the left side (Fig. 11.1). For now, this examined within this cemetery, i.e. their relation to the
intramural cemetery of the Vinča culture is believed to adult burials. In addition, possible kinship among the
date back to the first half of the fifth millennium cal BC. buried individuals at Gomolava is examined too.
Using anthropological analysis as well as ancient DNA
technique we defined the sex and age at death of 19 male
adults and 6 boys, while it was not possible to sex one Table 11.1. Gomolava cemetery: child burials
adult individual and one subadult (Zoffman 1987; Burial
Čuljković 2000; Čuljković et al. 2002). number
Age Sex Grave goods

3/75 newborn ? no grave goods

6 newborn ♂ no grave goods
8 1 year ♂ 4 ceramic vessels, 7 copper beads
9 3 years ♂ no grave goods
10 7 years ♂ 2 ceramic vessels, clay amulet?
14 1 year ♂ 2 ceramic vessels, 2 bone beads
19 newborn ♂ no grave goods


Now we know of many Vinča settlements in Serbia but

only two cemeteries of this culture have been excavated,
the extramural cemetery at the settlement of Žanićeva
dolja in Botoš, near Zrenjanin, and the intramural
cemetery at Gomolava site. The Neolithic burials at Botoš
were discovered by chance in 1925; 17 graves were
examined archaeologically (Saria 1925). The human
bones were very brittle; therefore they were not preserved
Fig. 11.1. Burials at the Gomolava cemetery for anthropological analysis but left buried at the site
(Photo courtesy of B. Brukner) (Grbić 1934). Three excavation campaigns were conduc-


ted at Gomolava, in 1953-1957, 1965-1969 and 1969- two are infants about one year old (Burial No. 8, Fig.
1985. The first two burials were discovered in 1973 and 11.2), one is a boy three years old (Burial No. 9, Fig.
the other 25 were excavated between 1975-1977. Some 11.3) and one is seven years old (Burial No. 10, Fig.
information of the Gomolava cemetery was reported in a 11.4). To conclude with, since both adults and subadults
few papers by Bogdan Brukner (Brukner 1975, 1978, of different age were buried at Gomolava, it seems that
1980, 1988 & 1990; Brukner & Petrović 1977) but it was age as a biological category did not affect someone’s
not published completely. Zsuzsanna Zoffman (1973 & chance for burial at the cemetery. But if age was not the
1987) has done the first anthropological determinations condition, which determined the presence of children, one
and her results about the age at death of subadults and could ask if they were treated differently in any way than
adults are used in this work as is Dušan Borić’s analysis adults because of their age? To answer this we need to
of the social aspects of burial practice (1996), in relation consider the spatial distribution of these graves and their
to the distribution of grave goods in subadult burials. relation to the adult burials. Speaking about boys’ burials,
Recently Biljana Čuljković DNA sexed 25 skeletons from it was not possible to establish for sure the position of
Gomolava using the PCR technique; her results are burial No. 3/75; we can only say that it was somewhere in
especially precious when sexing subadults, which is very the cemetery’s periphery. Even such evidence is good
hard to do by standard anthropological methods (Čuljko- enough to demonstrate that this burial was found out of
vić 2000; Čuljković et al. 2002). Besides, she investigated the center of the cemetery. The plan of the cemetery
three Y bound STR loci (Short Tandem Repeat) that are shows that five boys were buried out of the center of the
important when following up with kinship degree in cemetery, maybe because of the different treatment in
paternal line. comparison to adults (only burial No. 6 was not in the
outskirts). Although the age of the deceased was not
critical to give them burial access to the cemetery, the
‘MALE DEATH’ AT GOMOLAVA spatial distribution points to the age as the significant
factor of a “central” burial.
The analysis of Gomolava human bones was aimed at
sexing subadult skeletons because standard sexing techni-
ques are not reliable for them. Since secondary sex
characteristics appear only after the age of puberty, it is
very hard or almost impossible to determine the sex of
subadults. This problem was overcome using the ancient
DNA technique since the sex of 6 subadults was deter-
mined. In addition, the sex of all other adult individuals at
Gomolava was tested by this analysis. Ancient DNA
analysis allows precise sex determination by amplification
of DNA sequences specific for X and/or Y chromosomes
(Hummel & Hermann 1991; Faerman et al. 1995; Stone et
al. 1996). Skeletons of 25 individuals were available for
the ancient DNA analysis using molecular-biological
methods. The results demonstrate that all adult individuals
are male (only the sample from burial No. 12 was
unavailable). Besides, this analysis helped to sex 6
subadult skeletons as boys (the sample of the newborn
baby from burial No. 3/75 was not available). This result
is very interesting for it appears that only males had
access to burial at the Gomolava cemetery. The sex-based
selection has been strictly applied both for adults and
subadults. Since sex – maleness – was a significant
criterion to be met by the individuals who were to be
buried there, the next relevant question is if age was also a
criterion giving burial access to that cemetery? Fig. 11.2. Burial No. 8, 1 year old boy, buried
with 4 ceramic vessels and 7 copper beads
(Photo courtesy of B. Brukner)
Grave goods are missing in the burials of newborn babies
Former determinations by Zoffman revealed adults bet- as well as in the burial of a three years old boy (burial No.
ween 20-60 years old. It means that there were probably 9). Burials Nos. 8, 10 and 14 have the same grave
no age criteria for adults because individuals of different inclusions as the adults at Gomolava. The grave goods in
age were buried at Gomolava. Of the subadult skeletons, burial No. 8 consist of four ceramic vessels and seven
three are newborn babies (Burials Nos. 3/75, 6 and 19), copper beads; burial No. 10 yielded a clay amulet and two


to Y chromosome for their exclusively paternal line of

inheritance and the lack of recombination in certain
sequences are of special interest for the anthropological,
archaeological, forensic, genetic, and demographic studies
(see Kayser et al. 1997; de Knijff et al. 1997; Abbey
1999). The special advantage of the use of Y bound gene
loci in the population studies lies in the fact that
haplotypes of Y chromosomes are inherited without
recombination so it is possible to follow very long
ancestor/descendent lines in human communities. This
technique is of great importance when investigating
kinship relations and there is a lack of samples of several
generations of individuals, because it is possible to follow
the male line inheritance using Y chromosome bound
loci. The analysis of STR loci DYS 393, DYS 19, and DY
Fig. 11.3. Burial No. 9, 3 years old boy, buried without 390 was conducted with Gomolava samples and it
grave goods (Photo courtesy of B. Brukner) revealed the same profile for the all three analyzed bound
STR loci. Therefore these results need additional research
on larger number of loci to confirm the preliminary result
that the population buried at Gomolava is mono-
morphological regarding Y markers. This result is
indicative for the existence of a common ancestor from
whom men at Gomolava inherited this haplotype.


The sexing of Neolithic children at the Gomolava

cemetery demonstrated that biological sex had played an
important role in funerary practices. In other words, for
this cemetery, maleness was the basic condition both for
subadults as well as adults to be given a burial access.
Especially significant at the Gomolava cemetery is that all
of the subadults buried are boys, i.e. sex might have filled
Fig. 11.4. Burial No. 10, 7 years old boy, buried
an important role in funerary practices even for non-adult
with 2 ceramic vessels and 2 bone beads
individuals. Of course, this small sample is not enough for
(Photo: courtesy B. Brukner)
more general conclusions about the Vinča culture. In any
case, such sex differentiation in the funerary practices
even for subadults shows that biological sex might have
ceramic vessels; and burial No. 14 included two ceramic had its own cultural meaning since the very birth of the
vessels as well two bone beads. In these burials, the child. The biological category of age, however, was not a
subadults were treated as ‘future adults’ and this suggests burial determinate, as at the Gomolava cemetery both
that the treatment of boys as future adults could have been adults as well as subadults of different age were buried,
the reason of the burial access of boys to this intramural from newborn babies to seven years old boy. According
and in a way ‘exclusive’ funeral site. to the age as a biological category, all subadults except
the newborn from burial No. 6 were buried out of the
cemetery’s center, i.e. males were differentiated by spatial
KINSHIP location. Boys’ location within the cemetery makes the
difference in comparison to adults. The fact that boys are
The small number of individuals buried at the intramural buried in the periphery does not necessarily mean that
cemetery of Gomolava could point to their exclusive right they were treated as less important than adults; they were
within the community of the living. Besides, the selection simply treated differently according to their age. The
of deceased to be buried there because of their biological analysis of three Y bound STR loci indicated this
sex as well as the lack of age limits made us believe that population as mono-morphological regarding Y markers.
these individuals could have represented a kinship group; Of course, this should be confirmed with more detailed
thus it was decided to test this hypothesis using ancient analyses; for the time being, the significant point is that it
DNA analysis. After all samples were identified as males, was perhaps a common ancestor from whom Gomolava
three Y bound STR loci that are used in the population men possibly inherited this haplotype. This opens the
genetics to follow the male migrations, were also possibility that all of these men belonged to a kinship
analyzed (Čuljković 2000); polymorphological loci bound group, and it seems that it was this kinship which secured


the burial access to the intramural cemetery. If we assume BRUKNER, B. 1980. Naselje vinčanske grupe na
that a kinship group is buried at Gomolava and that it can Gomolavi (neolitski i ranoneolitski sloj). Izveštaj sa
be traced back to a common male ancestor, it is note- iskopavanja 1967-1976. g. Rad vojvođanskih muzeja
worthy that subadult males were also considered members 26: 5-55.
of the group. Their age, especially that of the three BRUKNER, B. 1988. Die Siedlung der Vinča-Gruppe auf
newborns, suggests that boys by their birthright became Gomolava (die Wohnschicht des Spätneolithikums
members of certain kinship groups. This hypothesis un- und Frühäneolithikums-Gomolava Ia, Gomolava Ia-b
derlines the necessity of more detailed, first of all genetic, und Gomolava Ib) und der Wohnhorizont des äneo-
research on kinship in prehistory. Until now, the archaeo- lithischen Humus (Gomolava II), in N. Tasić & J.
logical models of kinship groups were mostly based on Petrović (Hrsg.) Gomolava-Chronologie und Strati-
ethnographic parallels (Longrace 1966; Ember 1973) or graphie der vorgeschichtlichen und antiken Kulturen
on biodistance analyses, which examine the metric/non- der Donauniederung und Südosteuropas: 19-38. Inter-
metric characteristics of skeletons to deter-mine the genetic nationales Symposium Ruma, Novi Sad: Vojvodanski
distances (Conner 1990; Konigsberg 1990; Scuilli 1990). muzej.
BRUKNER, B. 1990. Vinča-Kultur und der Zivilisations-
The presence of newborns’ skeletons demonstrates that
komplex der neolithischen Kulturen des westlichen
not only male activities took place at the settlement of
Gomolava, which could have justified the exclusive Teils des Schwarzen Meeres. Rad vojvođanskih
presence of male burials at the cemetery. In addition, it muzeja 32:11-16.
confirms the presence of women as well in the BRUKNER, B. & J. PETROVIĆ 1977. Gomolava-
community of the living, and suggests that delivery itself Hrtkovci višeslojno nalazište. Arheološki pregled 19:
probably happened in one of the houses near the 24-27.
cemetery. CONNER, M.D. 1990. Population structure and skeletal
variation in the Late Woodland of West Central
Finally, the evidence from Gomolava points at the burial Illinois. American Journal of Physical Anthropology
access of subadults (in this case males) to an ‘exclusive’ 82: 31-43.
intramural cemetery, and actually suggests that Neolithic ČULJKOVIĆ, B. 2000. Molekularna arheologija: kom-
people considered them equal to adults, at least to a parativna analiza genomske DNK iz kostiju humanog
certain degree. porekla sa različitih arheoloških lokaliteta u Srbiji.
PhD thesis, Belgrade University.
In spite of recent research on various aspects of attitudes
toward subadults in the past (Sofaer Derevenski 1997; ČULJKOVIĆ, B., S. STEFANOVIĆ, & S. ROMAC
Scott 1999; Politis 1999; Joyce 2000), it was not used 2002. Upotreba PCR-а u fizičkoj antropologiji-
enough as a reconstruction tool for past cultures. In any utvrđivanje pola, in Zbornik radova sa I simpozijuma
case, this academic bias, termed by some authors as antropologa Republike Srpske: 23-31. Banja Luka:
‘adultism’, should be gradually overcome. Društvo antropologa Republike Srpske.
I am grateful to the late Professor Bogdan Brukner for our M. KRAWCZAK, K. LEIM, S. MEUSER, E.
discussions about Vinča culture and for all his support. MEYER, W. OESTERREICH, A. PANDYA, W.
This study was supported by the Ministry of Science and PARSON, G. PENACINO, A. PEREZ-LEZAUN, A.
Environmental Protection, Republic of Serbia (Project PICCININI, M. PRINZ, C. SCHMITT, P. M.
WEICHHOLD & L. ROEWER 1997. Chromosome Y
microsatellites: population genetic and evolutionary
References aspects. International Journal of Legal Medicine
110/3: 134-140.
ABBEY, D. 1999. The Thomas Jefferson paternity case. EMBER, N. 1973. An archaeological indicator of matri-
Nature 397: 30-32. local versus patrilocal residence. American Antiquity
BORIĆ, D. 1996. Social Dimensions of Mortuary 38: 177-182.
Practices in the Neolithic: A Case Study. Starinar 47: FAERMAN, M., D. FILON, G. KAHILA, C. GREEN-
67-83. BLATT, P. SMITH & A. OPPENHEIM 1995. Sex
BRUKNER, B. 1975. Gomolava, Hrtkovci-višeslojno identification of archaeological human remains based
nalazište. Arheološki pregled 17: 11-13. on amplification of the X and Y amelogenin alleles.
Gene 167/1-2: 327-332.
BRUKNER, B. 1978. Novi prilozi proučavanju formira-
nja neolitskih i eneolitskih naselja u Jugoslovenskom GRBIĆ, M. 1934. Неолитско гробље у Ботошу код
Podunavlju. Materijali 14: 47-51. Вел. Бечкерека. – Старинар 8-9: 40-58.


HUMMEL, S. & B. HERMANN 1991. Y-chromosome- SCUILLI, P.W. 1990. Cranial metric and discrete trait
specific DNA amplified in ancient human bones. variation and biological differentiation in the Terminal
Naturwissenschaften 78: 266-7. Late Archaic of Ohio: the Duff site cemetery.
JOYCE, R.A. 2000. Girling the girl and boying the boy: American Journal of Physical Anthropology 82/1: 19-
the production of adulthood in ancient Mesoamerica. 29.
World Archaeology 31/3: 423-41. SOFAER DEREVENSKI, J. 1997. Engendering children,
KONIGSBERG, L.W. 1990 Temporal aspect of engendering archaeology, in J. Moore & E. Scott
biological distance: serial correlation trends in a (eds.) Invisible people and processes. Writing gender
prehistoric skeletal lineage. American Journal of and childhood into European archaeology: 192-
Physical Anthropology 82: 45-52. 202. London & New York: Leicester University
LONGRACE, W.A. 1966. Changing patterns of social
integration: a prehistoric example from the American STONE, A.C., G.R. MILNER, S. PÄÄBO & M.
Southwest. American Anthropologist 68: 94-102. STONEKING 1996. Sex determination of ancient
human skeletons using DNA. American Journal of
POLITIS, G.G. 1999. La actividad infantil en la Physical Anthropology 99/2: 231-238.
producción del registro arqueológico de Cazadores-
Recolectores. Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e ZOFFMAN, S. 1973. Aufarbeitung des in die Vinča-
Etnologia Suplemento 3: 263-83. Kultur dateren anthropologischen Materials aus
Hrtkovci-Gomolava. Rad Vojvođanskih muzeja 21-22:
SARIA, B. 1925. Izveštaj o stanju i radu u preistorijskoj, 167-173.
klasičnoj zbirci. Godišnjak Srpske Kraljevske Akade-
mije 34: 315-318. ZOFFMAN, S. 1987. Das anthropologische Material des
spatneolithischen Gräberfeldes von Hrtkovci-Gomo-
SCOTT, E. 1999. The Archaeology of Infancy and Infant lava. Rad Vojvođanskih muzeja 30: 43-69.
Death. Oxford: Archaeopress (B.A.R. International
Series 819).

“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, Romania,

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to discuss certain theories about the place of children in society according to the mortuary
practices. Large burial samples were taken into consideration, from the Early Neolithic to Late Chalcolithic, belonging to the
Starčevo-Criş, Hamangia, Boian, Gumelniţa, Sălcuţa and Bodrogkerestúr cultures. For the time being, we can say that there is not
enough evidence to support the theories, elaborated as a result of the analysis of particular cases that suggest the exclusion of
children up to a certain age from the standard mortuary practices of a community.
Key words: Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Romania, mortuary practices, children

Résume: Le but de cet étude est de mettre en discussion quelques théories concernant le lieu occupé par les enfants dans la société,
en vertu d’une analyse des pratiques funéraires. Plus grands groups de tombes ont été inclus dans l’étude, à partir du Néolithique tôt
jusqu’au tard Chalcolithique appartenant aux civilisations de Starčevo-Criş, de Hamangia, de Boian, de Gumelniţa, de Sălcuţa et de
Bodrogkerestúr. À ce moment nous pouvons dire qu’il n’y a pas assez de preuves pour soutenir la généralisation des théories (qui
stipulent l’exclusion des enfants jusqu’à un certain âge des pratiques funéraires habituelles d’une communauté) formulées après
l’analyse de quelques cas particuliers.
Mots clés: Néolithique, Chalcolithique, Roumanie, pratiques funéraires, enfants

It is difficult to find hints about children in society using and foundation offerings (Popovici). Although they bring
exclusively archaeological data. Usually, there are not an important contribution to the understanding of
clear clues in the living space about the role of children in children’s life and death in prehistory, these studies are
society; these clues could more easily be found in the somehow limited, lacking a wider angle and an analysis
mortuary space, respectively in cemeteries. When of such features on a larger scale. One cannot find in any
children were brought into discussion, however, such of these articles a comparison with other child burials
cases were mostly taken into consideration that regard belonging to the same culture that could be considered as
their status of marginalized, socially disabled persons or “normal”. Fortunately, child burials have always been
objects related to the negotiation of the social power (see recorded when discovered (they are easily identifiable
Chapman 1983 and 1997; Hodder 1990, 51; Scott 1999, even if bioarchaeological determinations are missing),
90-102). This attitude tries to demonstrate that children sometimes accompanied by observations and commenta-
were something else than the rest of the community ries about their spatial location with respect to the other
members; it made us try an analysis of larger burial surrounding features / burials.
samples that would allow more relevant and nuanced
observations than the analysis of more or less isolated The second approach is reflected in the bioarchaeological
cases could have made possible. studies. Although an exclusive research on children has
not yet been made, we have to include here the general
study of the Iaşi Anthropological Center which gives a
HISTORY OF RESEARCH useful review of the data available (Necrasov et al. 1990).

The problem of child burials has been approached in the Unfortunately, either bioarchaeologists were not given
Romanian archaeological literature from two directions. access to a large part of the human bones discovered or, in
Only a few archaeological studies that treated exclusively case this happened, the lack of communication between
the subject of children can be mentioned, published by the research parties involved (archaeologists and bio-
Eugen Comşa (1988-1989), Dragomir Popovici (1996) archaeologists) resulted in a publication that makes
and Monica Bodea (1997). In all these, the main object of difficult, if not impossible, to consider this material in the
analysis is represented by the child burials that can be present study.
considered, in our opinion, as exceptional, such as burials
between houses (Comşa 1988-1989), burials of sacrificed
children (Popovici 1996) or children buried inside houses METHODOLOGY
and especially near the hearth (Bodea 1997). The possible
explanations for this exceptional burial treatment were, in Terms used
their turn, love of the mother (Comşa), possible existence
of certain rules and traditions that forbid the burial of non- We termed as children both Infans I (0-7 years) and
initiated individuals in cemeteries (Comşa and Bodea), Infans II (7-14 years) groups because of the lack of


Fig. 12.1. Map of the archaeological sites mentioned in the text: 1 Trestiana; 2 Cernavoda; 3 Andolina; 4 Vărăşti;
5 Sultana; 6 Gumelniţa; 7 Chirnogi; 8 Radovanu; 9 Popeşti; 10 Căscioarele; 11-12 Cernica and Glina; 13 Dridu;
14 Gârleşti-Gherceşti; 15 Ostrovul Corbului; 16 Iclod; 17 Gura Baciului; 18 Cămin; 19 Urziceni

bioarchaeological determinations in many of the cases; • What is their spatial location with respect to the other
the “archaeological” use of the terms a (very) small child burials in a settlement or cemetery?
or an older child makes a more subtle analysis impossible
at this point. • Is there any difference in depth, burial position,
orientation or grave goods between the child and adult
We termed as burial the disposal of a body in a grave, burials?
excluding the special cases such as the remains of
foundation offerings as well as disarticulated human Following this methodological introduction, we divided
remains scattered in the settlements. the analysis in two parts. The first part is concerned
with the facts per se and consists of a review of the
Method of analysis analyzed burials (Fig. 12.1) whereas in the second part we
will consider the evidence according to the above
We consider that a thorough analysis could be done if
information is available about both settlements and
cemeteries at the level of the same culture, correlated,
where possible, with bioarchaeological determinations. THE DATABASE
However, we will not exclude completely the contexts
that do not fulfill this basic condition. The analysis of Early Neolithic
child burials should answer, in our opinion, the following
questions: The most representative Early Neolithic burial sample
belongs to the Starčevo-Criş culture (over 60 burials).
• What is the ratio between child and adult burials and Many of these assemblages are isolated or in small
what is the ratio between child burials and expected/ number at the respective sites and are not statistically
normal child mortality? relevant (Comşa 1974; Ursulescu 1978). None the less,


two larger groups can be divided from the rest, namely At least 190 burials have been discovered at Sultana up to
those at Gura Baciului (Cluj County: Lazarovici & Maxim now (Şerbănescu & Soficaru 2006) and the excavations
1995) and Trestiana (Vaslui County: Popuşoi 1992 & still continue. 106 burials have been determined bio-
2005), both of them in the living space of the settlements. archaeologically (Şerbănescu 2002, 70f), the distribution
in age/sex groups being as follows: Infans I 22.56%,
The Gura Baciului sample consists of 10 burials, all of Infans II 4.70%, Juvenis 4.70%, men (adults and matures)
them found inside the settlement; bioarchaeological 42.30%, women (adults and matures) 28.20%, Senilis
determinations are available only for a part of these 1.88%. Of 31 deceased found and aged and sexed in 2004
burials. From those that have been sexed and/or aged, one and 2005, ten were children (both Infans I and Infans II)
is a double burial of a woman and a child; two belong to (Şerbănescu & Soficaru 2005 & 2006). The insufficient
children and three to women. archaeological data prevent us from a more detailed
The Trestiana sample includes 11 burials, inside the
settlement and between houses: two double burials of two At Popeşti, 16 burials have been discovered belonging to
men and of an adult with child, six individual burials of a later phase of the Boian culture. The distribution in age
two men, two women and two undetermined, and three groups is as follows (Şerbănescu 1999): Infans I 6.25%,
child burials. Infans II 12.50%, Juvenis 12.50%, Adultus 31.25%,
Maturus 37.50%. Again, the insufficient archaeological
Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic data and the lack of correlation with the bioarchaeological
evidence do not allow a more detailed analysis.
Hamangia culture
The following three burial groups belong to the final
A large cemetery belonging to this culture, with more phase of the Boian culture:
than 400 burials, has been discovered at Cernavoda (Con-
stanţa County), unfortunately yet unpublished completely. At the migration period cemetery at Andolina, Călăraşi
Only the annual excavation reports have been at our County (Comşa 1974b, 203-206; 1998b, 21) seven
disposal (Morintz et al. 1955; Berciu & Morintz 1957 & Neolithic burials have been discovered a few hundred
1959; Berciu et al. 1959 & 1961) as well as some meters from a Neolithic settlement. This burial group
summarized data published in works of synthesis (Berciu included six adults and a child. The child had no grave
1966; Haşotti 1997). From a bioarchaeological point of goods; no information is available on its position and the
view, the distribution in age groups is as follows: Infans I depth of the grave pit. Only two of the adults had grave
2.34%, Infans II 2.88%, Juvenis 2.88%, Adultus (20-30 goods.
years) 11.69%, Maturus (30-60 years) 63.67%, Senilis
(over 60 years) 2.52% (Necrasov et al. 1990). Fourteen burials have been excavated at Vărăşti, Călăraşi
County, one in a Boian settlement whereas the other
The settlements that used this cemetery have been thirteen at its periphery. From the latter, eight are adults
identified in its immediate vicinity and are only partially and five are children. All the individuals have been buried
excavated. No information of any burials in the living in a crouched position on the left side. The orientation of
space has been given in the annual excavation reports. the skeletons as well as the hands position varied. Only
three burials had poor grave goods: two had shell beads
Boian culture while the third had a copper needle (Comşa 1974b, 206-
211; 1998b, 21f).
A cemetery consisting of 378 burials attributed to the
beginning of this culture, have been excavated at Cernica Eight child burials have been excavated between houses
– Bucharest (Fig. 12.2); the settlement that used this in the settlement at Glina – Bucharest. All the deceased
cemetery was situated at a distance of about 200 m from were crouched on the side (most of them on the left).
it. No burials have been found in the settlement (Comşa & Their orientation varied but the most were aligned with
Cantacuzino 2001; Kogălniceanu 2005, 288-295). Since heads generally to the east. This burial group has been
the Cernica evidence, due to the complete publication of referred to the Vidra phase of the Boian culture (Comşa
the cemetery, can be discussed in detail, we will consider 1974b, 202f; 1998b, 20f).
it in the second part of this study. The distribution in age
groups of the individuals buried at Cernica is given in The Iclod group
Table 12.1 (see also Kogălniceanu 2005, 288-295).
The recent excavations at Iclod, Cluj County, yielded a
Two more Boian cemeteries have been identified and complicated situation including two settlements and two
excavated, referring to a later phase of this culture, both in cemeteries (Lazarovici 1991). The operations there were
the Călăraşi County: Sultana-Valea Orbului (Şerbănescu marked with letters from A to C. In operation B, there
2002; Şerbănescu & Soficaru 2005 & 2006) and Popeşti were both settlement and cemetery while in operation A,
(Şerbănescu 1999). They were only partially published there was only cemetery, followed by a thin layer that
and the burials were only partially aged and sexed. indicated a temporary settlement. In operation C, only a


Fig. 12.2. Cernica (after Comşa & Cantacuzino 2001)


Table 12.1. Cernica: sex and age groups distribution

Women Men Indeterminate Total
Infans I - - - - 9 3.09% 9 3.09%
Infans II - - - - 9 3.09% 9 3.09%
Juvenis 8 2.74% 6 2.06% 1 0.34% 15 5.15%
Adultus 45 15.46% 23 7.90% 5 1.71% 73 25.08%
Maturus 68 23.36% 93 31.95% 4 1.37% 165 56.70%
Senilis 4 1.37% 10 3.43% - - 14 4.81%
Indeterminate - - - - 6 2.06% 6 2.06%
Total 125 42.95% 132 45.36% 34 45.36% 291 100%

temporary settlement has been discovered. The operation Another burial group, considered as a cemetery, was
A cemetery yielded about 40 burials while the operation excavated at Dridu, Ialomiţa County. It contained nine
B cemetery included about 170 burials, and the number individuals, none of them child (Necrasov & Cristesco
could still grow since the excavations go on (Lazarovici 1961).
1991; Maxim et al. 2006). The children (Infans I and II)
at cemetery A represent 12.14% while at cemetery B (at Twenty-eight burials have been excavated at Căscioarele
least considering the first 40 burials, which have been – D’aia Parte, Călăraşi County (Şerbănescu 1998),
sexed and aged) they are 7.3% (Georgescu & Georgescu belonging to a Gumelniţa A1 phase cemetery. Only half
1999). of them have been aged and sexed; the age groups are
distributed as follows: Infans II 1, adults 13 (seven men
Late Chalcolithic and six women) (Cantemir & Bălteanu 1993). The
insufficient archaeological information does not allow us
Gumelniţa culture to make a more detailed analysis but it should be pointed
out that the excavations still go on.
Numerous burials belonging to this culture have been
found. In the present study we will use the following A Gumelniţa culture cemetery with 62 burials (unclear
samples that we consider as statistically relevant due to phase) has been discovered at Chirnogi – Şuviţa Iorgu-
the larger number of burials in each of them: lescu, Călăraşi County. The age groups distribution is as
follows: Infans I 3, Infans II 1, Juvenis 6, Adultus 11,
A settlement and a cemetery belonging to the transition Maturus 37, and Senilis 4 (Bălteanu & Cantemir 1991).
phase from the Boian to the Gumelniţa culture have been
excavated at Radovanu, Călăraşi County (the first Another cemetery from an unclear phase of this culture
prehistoric cemetery in Romania, purposefully looked for, has been excavated at Gumelniţa, Călăraşi County, and
discovered and excavated) (Comşa 1998a). Seventeen consists of eight burials. Of these, only one belonged to a
burials have been discovered at the cemetery and six more child and the grave pit was somewhat shallower (0.40 m),
at the settlement. The repartition on age groups is while the other grave pits, with only one exception, varied
illustrated in the table below: between 1.20 and 2.65 m (Lazăr 2001).

Finally, a large cemetery, whose utilization covered more

Table 12.2. Radovanu: age groups distribution
than one phase of the Gumelniţa culture, has been
Settlement Cemetery Total excavated at Vărăşti, Călăraşi County (Comşa 1995) (Fig.
12.3). Due to its complete publication we are able to
Children 6 5 11
analyze the situation at this site in more detail. The
Adolescents + adults - 11 11 distribution of the age groups at the cemetery is as
Indeterminate - 1 1 follows: children 26.28%, adults 73.18%1.
Total 6 17 23
Sălcuţa culture

A cemetery belonging to the third phase of this culture

Usually, the burials had no grave goods. The depth of the has been found during rescue excavations at Gârleşti-
grave pits at the cemetery was not always given but it
varies between 0.7-1.00 m; most pits are about 0.80 m 1
The percentages were calculated by us according to the data given in
deep. Comşa 1995.


Fig. 12.3. Vărăşti (after Comşa 1995)

Fig. 12.4. Gârleşti-Gherceşti (after Nica 1993)

Fig. 12.5. Ostrovul Corbului (after Roman & Dodd-Opriţescu 1989)

Gherceşti, Dolj County (Fig. 12.4). The settlement has burials, 18 belong to children; two more could be added
been identified in the vicinity; no burials are mentioned in to them with some reserves.
the inhabited area (Nica 1993).
Bodrogkeresztúr culture
Another cemetery from the final phase of this culture has
been discovered at Ostrovul Corbului, Mehedinţi County A cemetery belonging to this culture has recently been
(Fig. 12.5), demonstrating a mixture of influences, most identified at Urziceni, Satu Mare County. Only 40 graves
of them of Sălcuţa and Bodrogkeresztúr type (Roman & have been excavated and up to the present moment they
Dodd-Oproţescu 1989). The human bones are still being are only partially published, with little information about
analyzed, but some preliminary data are available, with the position of the deceased in the grave pits. Of the
the reservation that these can suffer some changes in the information published, we can use the following data in
future2. We will only mention that of 53 Chalcolithic this study: one double burial has been excavated contain-

We thank Alexandra Comşa (V. Pârvan Institute of Archaeology, Academy, Iaşi) for their kind amiability and generosity to give us
Bucureşti) and Georgeta Miu (Anthropological Center at the Romanian information about material currently under study.


ning the skeletons of an adult and a child; another burial has been in practice. It is true, though, that we cannot
belonged to a child. Grave no. 25, which contained the know with great precision if, at the moment of burial, one
skeletal remains of a child, had only a piece of pottery grave or another was or was not situated at the periphery
(“milk pot”) as grave goods, while all the other burials of the already existing burial group. The evidence from
contained between two and fifteen objects. The double the Cernica cemetery did not make possible any relevant
burial had three pottery vessels (Virag 2004 & 2006). observation about the dynamics of this assemblage.

The depth of child burials differed in no way from the

THE ANALYSIS adult burials, varying between 0.7 and 1.13 m (with only
one exception, T 294, 0.48 m deep).
Considering the three directions of analysis that must be
followed when comparing child and adult burials, we will Only six of twenty-one child burials (28.57%) yielded
try to see to what degree we could speak of children as a grave goods whereas the percentage of the adult burials
category that is excluded from or included in the usual with grave goods is 31.50%. The comparison of these
mortuary practices. Before that, however, we should point percentages demonstrates that in this respect children
out that since the age determinations have not always have not been treated in a way meant to distinguish them
been done in the same way, we will use only two terms, from the adults. We should point out, however, that none
child (both Infans I and Infans II) and adult (the rest of of the child burials contained animal bones as remains of
the age groups). food offerings in contrast to some of the adult burials
(Comşa & Cantacuzino 2001).
Fig. 12.6a clearly demonstrates that the percentage of
children in the Early Neolithic burial sample is fairly high An increase of the percentage of child burials could be
(approximately one third). The transition to cemeteries is noticed in the following phases of the Boian development,
not attested for this period; all burials were found between varying between 14.28% and 27.26%. The burial samples
houses in the living space. The large percentage of from the site of Vărăşti, which yielded a large number of
children makes us believe that the exclusion of non-adults child burials (38.46%: Comşa 1974b, 206-211; 1998b,
or non-initiated individuals from the common mortuary 21f) and Glina, consisting exclusively of children (Comşa
practices was not practiced at that moment. In addition, 1974b, 202f; 1998b, 20f) could be easily distinguished
the comparative analysis of burial depth and grave goods from the other samples.
of these two burial samples does not give arguments in
favor of the theory that special attention was paid to the The site of Iclod is still being excavated, as said
deceased children. previously, and the published material is replete with
significant ambiguities and gaps, so we will not go into
In the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods, a details in this study. We would only like to emphasize the
certain change in mortuary practices can be noticed. At increased percentage of child burials that does not support
this chronological point, one of the most important events the hypothesis of the exclusion of this age category from
took place, the appearance of cemeteries as spaces the common mortuary practices of the entire community.
dedicated exclusively to the burial of the deceased and
their separation from the space of the living. The first The burial sample from Radovanu belongs to the transi-
large prehistoric cemeteries in Romania discovered so far tion phase from Boian to Gumelniţa culture (Comşa
are those at Cernavoda, Cernica and Iclod, briefly 1998a). The situation at this site is rather special since
described in the first part of the study. burials were found both in the living space and in an area
reserved exclusively to the dead of that community, a
In the case of Cernavoda cemetery, we can only mention cemetery adjacent to the settlement. The fact that only
the fact that the percentage of children has decreased with child burials were excavated in the settlement could
respect to the previous period, being only 5.22%. Since suggest, at first glance, the existence of certain mortuary
this cemetery has not yet been published entirely, we practices specific for the non-adults, but this hypothesis is
cannot make any further observations. contradicted by the large percentage of children buried in
the cemetery, almost a third of the total number of dece-
At Cernica, a cemetery that is approximately contempo- ased buried there. Age determinations could have yielded
rary with Cernavoda, the situation is similar, the percent- valuable information such as, for example, regarding a
tage of child burials (5.44%) being quite small. We have possible age limit that marked the transition from burial in
more information about this cemetery that allows us a the living space to burial in the cemetery (this hypothesis
more detailed analysis. Thus, marking the child burials on suggests that after certain age, one acquired new social
the cemetery plan (Fig. 12.2), we noticed no special power, including the right to be buried in the cemetery).
groupings. Moreover, the burials of women who died in Since no age determinations have yet been made, we can
childbirth and were buried together with the fetus are not only argue here that the evidence from this site does not
situated at the cemetery’s periphery or in some particular corroborate the exclusion theory. No major differences
area as would have been expected if some kind of between child and adult burials (depth and position of
exclusion of children from the usual mortuary practices burial, grave goods) could be found.


Fig. 12.6. a) Percentages of child and adult burials at the sites mentioned in the text: 1 Gura Baciului; 2 Trestiana;
3 Cernavoda; 4 Cernica; 5 Sultana; 6 Popeşti; 7 Andolina; 8 Vărăşti (burials of the Boian culture); 9 Glina; 10 Radovanu (cemetery);
11 Radovanu (settlement); 12 Dridu; 13 Chirnogi; 14 Vărăşti (burials of the Gumelniţa culture); 15 Gârleşti-Gherceşti; 16 Ostrovul
Corbului (Black and white: percentage of burials in a cemetery; textured black and white: percentage of burials in a settlement)

Fig. 12.6. b) Comparison between child and adult burials’ percentage

in the burial groups and cemeteries (Neolithic and Chalcolithic)

The burial contexts at Dridu (Ialomiţa County), Căscioa- County), all of these sites belonging to the Gumelniţa
rele – D’aia Parte (Călăraşi County), Chirnogi – Şuviţa culture, do not offer a good discussion platform due to the
Iorgulescu (Călăraşi County), and Gumelniţa (Călăraşi insufficient archaeological and bioarchaeological data.


The fact that only adult burials have been discovered at made us pay special attention to the depth of the grave
Dridu could mean nothing more than a research gap. At pits. Unfortunately, it is mentioned in the very beginning
Chirnogi, notwithstanding their percentage decrease, the of the excavations report that all the altimetry data have a
cemetery yielded child burials and therefore there are no fixed reference point (Roman & Dodd-Oproţescu 1989,
reasons to argue that they had been excluded from the 14), and therefore we do not have any information about
mortuary space. the “real” depth of the grave pit. We can only say that,
considering the depths in various parts of the cemetery
The only site of the Gumelniţa culture that allows a more (and not in general), we could not notice any special
detailed analysis is the Vărăşti cemetery (Fig. 12.3). difference between child and adult burials. This is the
Children are well represented in this burial sample, case also with the body positions, which vary according to
constituting almost a third of the total number. This aspect the orientation (or vice versa). The grave goods were
alone invalidates the hypothesis of their treatment in a usually rich, without any differentiation according to age
different manner from the rest of the community groups.
members. The depth of the child grave pits varies from
0.32 to 1.46 m, more or less the same as the adult burials. The Bodrogkerestúr cemetery at Urziceni is chronologi-
This is also the case with the burial position. For what cally the latest in our burial sample. Recently discovered
regards the grave goods, we can make the following and still being excavated, it was published without a
observations: of the total child burials only 9.09% (three spatial plan as well as without complete descriptions of
of thirty-three) were furnished with grave goods, the burials or age and sex determinations, thus making it
compared to 19.51% (24 of 124) of the adult burials. The impossible to try a detailed analysis. One of the few
decreased percentage of child burials with grave goods is observations that we can make at present is that the
counterbalanced by a child burial (T 100) that contained number of child burials in this cemetery is insignificant
gold adornments and is considered as one of the “richest” compared to the total adult burials (two of forty).
graves in the cemetery.

Finally, the cemeteries of Gârleşti-Gherceşti (Dolj CONCLUSIONS

County), Ostrovul Corbului (Mehedinţi County) and
Urziceni (Satu Mare County) belong to the Late The comparative analysis of child and adult burials
Chalcolithic as well, but to a phase later than the yielded the following conclusions:
Gumelniţa culture.
1. The percentage of child burials in larger and more
coherent burial groups generally fits in the normal
The burials at Gârleşti-Gherceşti (Fig. 12.4) are not so
infant mortality limits (15-30%: see Scott 1999, 90).
numerous, but being published in detail together with a
The Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic – reflected
plan of the excavated area, they allow more significant
in the cemeteries at Cernavoda and Cernica – are the
observations in the present study. Of the total 15 burials
only periods, for which a general tendency towards a
excavated, five belong to children, representing 33.33%.
low representation of children in cemeteries or burial
Although seemingly they had a peripheral position with
groups could be noticed.
respect to the other burials, as the excavator noticed (Nica
1993, 10), this could easily not be the case. The excavated 2. Neither the analyses of spatial distribution nor the
area consisted of two long and narrow trenches with two other elements of mortuary practices taken into consi-
contiguous short sides; the burials were discovered in the deration (grave depth, body position, and grave goods)
entire area and not as some nucleus. This makes us generally support the hypothesis that non-adults were
believe that the cemetery had a larger area on both sides given a special treatment.
of the excavated trenches, and the fact that the child
3. Wherever age determinations were available, it could
burials are at their extremities could be the result of the
be noticed that both Infans I and Infans II categories
limited excavation area. Neither the depth of the graves
were represented in cemeteries and burial groups,
nor the body position offer arguments in favor of a
which again questions the hypothesis of an age limit
possible “marginalization” of children. Moreover, the
that would allow the access to mortuary space.
only two burials with grave goods belong to children (T 9
and T 10) and contain copper adornments. 4. Following the percentage of child burials in time (Fig.
12.6b), one notices that their presence in cemeteries or
The percentage of child burials at the Chalcolithic burial groups is quite numerous and fairly constant, the
cemetery of Ostrovul Corbului (Fig. 12.5) is quite high, exception being the Late Neolithic. The cemetery at
reaching a third of the total burials. No preference for any Chirnogi seems to be out of this pattern as well, but it
part of the cemetery could be observed; the child burials is possibly due to some shortcomings of the excavation
were found in the entire excavated area. The excavators methods. The underrepresentation of children in the
made an interesting observation regarding a woman’s Late Neolithic burial sample can be explained in two
burial in the northwestern part of the cemetery (T 22); this ways. We are dealing here either with a decreased
was the deepest and richest grave in the cemetery (Roman infant mortality or this situation is directly related to
& Dodd-Oproţescu 1989, 13 and 17). This observation the major change in mortuary practices which happe-


ned in that very period (the separation of the world of COMŞA, E. 1974a. Die Bestattungssitten im rumänischen
the dead from the world of the living and the first Neolithikum, Jahresschrift für mitteldeutsche Vorge-
appearance of cemeteries). We tend to consider the schichte 58: 113-156.
latter hypothesis as more plausible. COMŞA, E. 1974b. Istoria comunităţilor culturii Boian.
Bucureşti: Editura Academiei.
Summing up all said, we believe that there is insufficient
evidence to support the theories about the exclusion of COMŞA, E. 1988-1989. Un obicei funerar al purtătorilor
children from the usual mortuary practices. When there culturii Boian, Cultură şi Civilizaţie la Dunărea de Jos 5-
seems to be a case of such attitude, it was rather an 7: 27-30.
exception from the rule than a valid general attitude. The COMŞA, E. 1995. Necropola gumelniţeană de la Vărăşti,
single child burials in settlements have given ground to Analele Banatului 4/1: 55-189.
certain theories but it is not reasonable to apply them a COMŞA, E. 1998a. Mormintele neolitice de la Radovanu,
priori to all of the mortuary practices of the Charpato- Studii şi Cercetări de Istorie Veche şi Arheologie
Danubian Neolithic and Chalcolithic. 49/3-4: 265-276.
COMŞA, E. 1998b. Ritul şi ritualurile funerare din epoca
References neolitică din Muntenia, Istorie şi tradiţie în spaţiul
românesc 4: 18-35.
BĂLTEANU, C. & P. CANTEMIR 1991. Contribuţii la COMŞA, E. & G. CANTACUZINO 2001. Necropola
cunoaşterea unor aspecte paleodemografice la popu- neolitică de la Cernica. (Biblioteca de arheologie LV)
laţia neolitică de la Chirnogi – Şuviţa Iorgulescu, Bucureşti: Editura Academiei.
Studii şi Cercetări Antropologice 28: 3-7.
GEORGESCU, L. & E.M. GEORGESCU 1999. Conside-
BERCIU, D. 1966. Cultura Hamangia. Noi contribuţii, I. raţii antropologice şi demografice privind populaţia
Bucureşti: Editura Academiei. din necropolele “A” şi “B” de la Iclod, Acta Musei
BERCIU, D. & S. MORINTZ 1957. Şantierul arheologic Meridionalis 9: 357-363.
Cernavoda (reg. Constanţa, r. Medgidia), Materiale şi HAŞOTTI, P. 1997. Epoca neolitică în Dobrogea.
Cercetări Arheologice 3: 83-92. Constanţa: Bibliotheca Tomitana 1.
BERCIU, D. & S. MORINTZ 1959. Săpăturile de la HODDER, I. 1990. The Domestication of Europe:
Cernavoda (reg. Constanţa, r. Medgidia), Materiale şi Structure and Contingency in Neolithic Societies
Cercetări Arheologice 5: 99-114. (Social Archaeology). Oxford: Blackwell.
BERCIU, D., S. MORINTZ & P. ROMAN 1959. KOGĂLNICEANU, R. 2005. Utilizarea testului Χ2 în
Săpăturile de la Cernavoda (reg. Constanţa, r. arheologie. Studiu de caz – necropola de la Cernica,
Medgidia), Materiale şi Cercetări Arheologice 6: 95- Arheologia Moldovei 28: 265-302.
KOGĂLNICEANU, R. 2006. Înmormântări de copii în
BERCIU, D., S. MORINTZ, M. IONESCU & P. contexte intramurale şi extramurale din neoliticul şi
ROMAN 1961. Şantierul arheologic Cernavoda, chalcoliticul României: problema “interiorului” şi
Materiale şi Cercetări Arheologice 7: 49-55. “exteriorului” in N. Ursulescu (ed.) Dimensiunea
BODEA, M. 1997. Actul de a înmormânta copii în vatra europeană a Civilizaţiei eneolitice Est-Carpatice:
şi lângă vatra locuinţei, Acta Musei Napocensis 34/1: 191-214, Iaşi: Editura Universităţii Al. I. Cuza.
735-731. LAZAROVICI, G. 1991. Grupul şi staţiunea Iclod, Cluj-
CANTEMIR, P. & C. BĂLTEANU 1993. Considérations Napoca: Bibliotheca Muzeului de Istorie al Transil-
anthropologiques sur le matériel néolithique de vaniei.
Căscioarele (Departement de Călăraşi), Annuaire LAZAROVICI, G. & Z. MAXIM 1995. Gura Baciului.
Roumain d’Anthropologie 30: 3-7. Cluj-Napoca: Bibliotheca Muzeului de Istorie al
CHAPMAN, J.C. 1983. Meaning and Illusion in the Transilvaniei.
Study of Burial in Balkan Prehistory, in A. Poulter
LAZĂR, C. 2001. Date noi privind unele morminte
(ed.) Ancient Bulgaria: papers presented to the
gumelniţene, Cultură şi Civilizaţie la Dunărea de Jos 16-
International Symposium on the Ancient History
17: 171-183.
and Archaeology of Bulgaria, University of
Nottingham, 1981: 1-42. Nottingham: Department of MAXIM, Z., D. BINDEA & G. LAZAROVICI 2006.
Classical and Archaeological Studies (Archaeology Iclod, com. Iclod, jud. Cluj. Punct: Pământul Vlădicii,
Section). in Cronica Cercetărilor Arheologice din Romania,
Campania 2005,
CHAPMAN, J.C. 1997. Changing gender relations in the
later prehistory of Eastern Hungary, in J. Moore & E.
Scott (eds.) Invisible People and Processes: writing MORINTZ, S., D. BERCIU & P. DIACONU 1955.
gender and childhood into European archaeology: Şantierul arheologic Cernavoda, Studii şi Cercetări de
131-149. London: Leicester University Press. Istorie Veche 6/1-2: 151-163.


NECRASOV, O. & M. CRISTESCO 1961. Etude ŞERBĂNESCU, D. 1999. Necropola neolitică de la

anthropologique des squelettes de Dridu (Culture Popeşti, comuna Vasilaţi, jud. Călăraşi, in M. Neagu
Gumelnitza), Annales scientifiques de l’Université de (ed.) Civilizaţia Boian pe teritoriul României: 14-16.
Jassy, 7/1: 53-65. Călăraşi: Daim.
NECRASOV, O., M. CRISTESCU, D. BOTEZATU & ŞERBĂNESCU, D. 2002. Observaţii preliminare asupra
G. MIU 1990. Cercetări paleoantropologice privitoare necropolei neolitice de la Sultana, jud. Călăraşi,
la populaţiile de pe teritoriul României, Arheologia Cultură şi Civilizaţie la Dunărea de Jos 19: 69-86.
Moldovei 13: 173-206. ŞERBĂNESCU, D. & A. SOFICARU 2005. Sultana,
NICA, M. 1993. Câteva date despre necropola eneolitică com. Mănăstirea,jud. Călăraşi, Punct: Valea Orbului,
de la Gârleşti-Gherceşti (com. Mischii, jud. Dolj), in Cronica Cercetărilor Arheologice din Romania,
Arhivele Olteniei 8: 3-17. Campania 2004,
POPOVICI, D. 1996. Date noi cu privire la sacrificiile cronicaCA2005.
umane din arealul Gumelniţa (abstract), in Lucrările ŞERBĂNESCU, D. & A. SOFICARU 2006. Sultana,
simpozionului de arheologie: 76. Târgovişte: Univer- com. Mănăstirea, jud. Călăraşi, Punct: Valea Orbului,
sitatea Valahia. in Cronica Cercetărilor Arheologice din Romania,
POPUŞOI, E. 1992. Mormintele neolitice de tip Stačevo- Campania 2005,
Criş la Trestiana, comuna Griviţa, judeţul Vaslui, cronicaCA2006/cd/english/index.htm.
Carpica 23: 21-41. URSULESCU, N. 1978. Mormintele Criş de la Suceava –
POPUŞOI, E. 2005. Trestiana. Monografie arheologică. “Platoul Cimitirului”, Anuarul Muzeului Judeţean
Bârlad: Editura Sfera. Suceava 5: 81-88.
ROMAN, P. & A. DODD-OPRIŢESCU 1989. Interfe- VIRAG, C. 2004. Cercetări arheologice la Urziceni –
renţe etnoculturale, din perioada indoeuropenizării, Vamă, Acta Musei Porolisenssis 26: 41-76.
reflectate în cimitirul eneolitic de la Ostrovul VIRAG, C. 2005. Urziceni, com. Urziceni, jud. Satu
Corbului, Thraco-Dacica 10/1-2: 11-38. Mare; Punct: Vamă, in Cronica Cercetărilor Arheo-
SCOTT, E. 1999. The Archaeology of Infancy and Infant logice din Romania, Campania 2005, http://www.
Death. Oxford: B.A.R. S819.
ŞERBĂNESCU, D. 1998. Căscioarele, Punctul D’aia
Parte, in Cronica Cercetărilor Arheologice din
Romania, Campania 1997: 14.

Binghamton University, SUNY, U.S.A.,

Abstract: Burial practice patterns can provide insight into how individuals and communities negotiated their relationships between
the living and the dead. Seven child and infant burials from the multi-period mound site of Kenan Tepe, Turkey were analysed to
examine the variety of burial practices carried out and to address questions regarding the nature of the relationship between the
Kenan Tepe residents and their dead. During the time of occupation at Kenan Tepe at least three different methods of interment were
practiced. Further, changing burial patterns at Kenan Tepe indicate a shift towards a less intimate relationship with the dead.
Key words: Burial practices, pot burial, UTARP, Mesopotamia

Résumé: Les tendances dans la pratique funéraire peuvent fournir l’aperçu comment les individus et les communautés ont négocié
leurs rapports entre les vivants et les morts. Sept sépultures d’enfants et de bébés du site multi-période du Kenan Tepe en Turquie
ont été analysées afin d’examiner la variété des pratiques d’inhumation effectuées et d’adresser des questions quant à la nature du
rapport entre les résidants de Kenan Tepe et leurs morts. Pendant le temps d’occupation à Kenan Tepe au moins trois méthodes
différentes d’inhumation ont été pratiquées. En outre, les modèles d’inhumation changeants à Kenan Tepe indiquent un changement
vers un rapport moins intime avec les morts.
Mots-clés: Pratiques funéraires, sépulture en jarre, UTARP, Mésopotamie

The site of Kenan Tepe is located in the Diyarbakır dead within the site the inhabitants of Kenan Tepe would
province in southeastern Turkey. It lies approximately 20 have altered the perception of their own social geography
kilometres west of the Tigris-Batman confluence along and how they defined their own social world (Panelli
the northern bank of the Tigris River (Fig. 13.1) (Parker et 2004).
al. 2006). Members of the Upper Tigris Archaeological
Research Project (UTARP) have been conducting excava-
tions at Kenan Tepe since 2000. This work has revealed Table 13.1. Infant and child burials excavated from Kenan
that Kenan Tepe is a multi-period mound with occupation Tepe
phases occurring during the Late Ubaid period, the Late
Chalcolithic period, the beginning of the Early Bronze Skeleton Time Period* Age Burial Context
Age, the Middle Bronze Age and finally the Early Iron G-7-25-5 LC 5/EB 1 3-5 years Pot
Age (Parker et al. 2002; 2003; 2004; forthcoming). The
site consists of a main mound where the majority of the G-7-28-6 LC 5/EB 1 2-4 years Pot
occupation occurred and a large lower city that stretches G-7-38-2 LC 5/EB 1 1-2 years Pot
out to the east of the main mound and overlooks the G-7-41-2 LC 5/EB 1 1-2 years Pot
Tigris River (Fig. 13.2) (Parker et al. 2006). The lower
city was the primary area of occupation during the Late F-7-7200-1 LC5 1.5-2 years Mud brick pit
Chalcolithic period. F-21-6-8 LC5 2-4 years Pot
D-8-54-1 UB 3-9 months Plaster pit
Since 2000, UTARP team members have uncovered
several burials throughout the site, seventeen of which * EB = Early Bronze (3000-2800 BCE), LC5 = Late Chalcolithic Phase
5 (3360-3020 BCE), UB = Ubaid (4600 BCE)
were analysed during the 2006 season. The condition and
biological profile of these burials are detailed elsewhere
in Parker et al. (2008, forthcoming). In this paper I will
focus on the seven burials of infants and young children UBAID BURIAL PRACTICES
that were excavated in 2005 (Table 13.1). These burials
came from three separate occupation phases: the Late Excavation at Kenan Tepe has determined that Ubaid
Ubaid period (circa 4600 BCE), Phase 5 of the Late occupation only occurred in a limited area on the central
Chalcolithic period (3360-3020 BCE), and the transition mound. Restricted to a small area of less than 1 hectare in
between the Late Chalcolithic period and the Early Areas D and E of the excavation (see Fig. 13.2), the
Bronze Age. The span of this temporal sequence provides Ubaid settlement was located on the eastern face of the
an opportunity to examine and understand how the mound on what was likely a low natural hill (Parker,
practice of child and infant burial changed over time at forthcoming). Ubaid occupation at Kenan Tepe is
Kenan Tepe. Further, it is possible to examine how tentatively assigned to four phases based on carbon-14
members of the Kenan Tepe community negotiated their dating. This occupation is discussed in detail in Parker
relationship with the dead by taking a close look at the (forthcoming) and Parker et al. (2005 & 2006), and
changing burial patterns. By shifting the placement of the consists of three large cell-plan structures that are


Fig. 13.1. Location of Kenan Tepe in southeastern Turkey


Fig. 13.2. Topographic map of Kenan Tepe showing the location of areas and trenches

associated with an array of domestic remains, including The skeleton was highly fragmented, particularly the
ceramics, lithics and animal bones. skull, and all elements had deteriorated appreciably.

Within Area D, a single burial of a three to nine month Characteristically, burials from the Ubaid are found along
old infant was the only Ubaid child burial recovered from the edges of a settlement, in an abandoned building or in a
Kenan Tepe. Area D contains two of the Ubaid cell-plan cemetery outside of the village (Akkermans & Schwartz
structures, as well as the remains of an additional do- 2003; Thuesen 1996). However, it was not uncommon for
mestic structure. These buildings were likely part of do- child burials from the Ubaid period to occur within the
mestic residences as the structures and their surrounding settlement. At the Ubaid site of Tell Abada in central Iraq,
surfaces have produced a number of domestic remains in 127 urn burials of children were found below the surface
situ (Parker et al., 2005 & 2006; Parker, forthcoming). of house floors. No adult burials had yet been found, but
The infant was discovered buried underneath the floor these were likely located off site somewhere in the
surface of the additional Ubaid structure, encased in a surrounding plain (Jasim 1985). Further, the residents of
plaster pit and covered with a shallow bowl (Fig. 13.3). Tell Abada conducted separate age-based burial practices.


connection, even in death, between the infant, the mother

and the household (M. Hopwood 2007). Inferences based
on the ethnographic record have been made connecting
food processing tasks and tools to the domain of women’s
activities (Murdock & Provost 1973; Peterson 1994 &
1999). Further, ethnoarchaeological and bioarchaeological
studies of activity markers on bone have indicated a
connection between ground stone food processing
activities and women’s activities in the Levant (Peterson
1994, 1997 & 2002). At Kenan Tepe, once a grinding tool
had outlived its intended use, it was reused within the site.
Reused ground stone tools were then employed as surface
or wall cobbles, door sockets, or in building foundations
(M. Hopwood 2007). However, in this instance, although
heavily worn, the grinding slab had not been worn
a through or broken and was still a viable tool. Rather, this
b slab was intentionally placed with the child when it was
buried within the home.

Fig. 13.3. Plaster-lined Ubaid infant burial and the

shallow bowl that was used to cover the child

Very young babies, and those that were likely stillborn,

were interred in circular or oval pits and covered with a
bowl, whereas older children were placed within burial Fig. 13.4. Ubaid infant burial
jars (Jasim 1985, 35). In these instances the majority of with associated grinding stone
the infants were buried beneath floor surfaces, although
two infants were buried just outside of a building.
By placing the burial within the home the infant would
The burial of the Ubaid infant at Kenan Tepe bears some always remain a presence in the household, just as placing
striking similarities to the burials at Tell Abada. As with the grinding slab with the infant maintains the infant’s
the Tell Abada infants, the Kenan Tepe infant was placed connection to the mother. This burial practice works to
in an oval pit and covered with a bowl. Further, as with all maintain an intimate relationship between the living
Tell Abada child and infant burials, the Kenan Tepe infant members of a household and the dead. The dead, in this
was buried underneath the surface of a floor. Unfortu- case the infant, remain a tangible presence in the everyday
nately it is not possible to determine whether the Ubaid lives and memory of the household members. As the
residents of Kenan Tepe practiced differential burial occupation of Kenan Tepe shifts to the Late Chalcolithic
treatment based on age, similar to that observed at Tell period we see how a slight shift in the practice of child
Abada, due to the absence of other child burials. burial alters the social geography of the site and in doing
so the negotiated relationship between the living members
During the Ubaid period, as well as the later Chalcolithic of the community and the dead.
and Early Bronze periods, it was very rare for children,
particularly infants, to be interred with grave goods
(Akkermans & Schwartz 2003; Stein 1999 & 2001). In LATE CHALCOLITHIC BURIALS
contrast, the Ubaid infant from Kenan Tepe was buried
with several stone and shell beads as well as a well-used The Late Chalcolithic occupation at Kenan Tepe is
and reused grinding stone (Fig. 13.4). The presence of the concentrated in the lower town, located on a flat terrace
large grinding stone is significant, as it suggests a northeast of the main mound. Excavation in this area has


revealed occupation spanning from Phase 3 of the Late and others that were recycled cooking vessels (Stein 1996
Chalcolithic period through to Phase 5 (ca. 3600-3000 & 1999). Unlike the Hacınebi Tepe pot burials, which
BCE) (Parker et al. 2008, forthcoming). This area of the were capped with platters or bowls (Stein 1999),
excavation has been divided into seven levels that roughly excavation of the Kenan Tepe, Late Chalcolithic period,
correspond to separate occupation layers (Parker et al. pot burial found no evidence of a lid or cover for the
2003, 2005, 2006 & 2008, forthcoming; Creekmore, in vessel. This suggests that either the covering did not
press). In 2005, UTARP team members excavated preserve or the burial was not capped.
contexts spanning from Level 1 through to Level 5 that
date between ca. 3360-2890 calibrated BCE (Parker et al.
2008, forthcoming). This work uncovered the burials of
an infant, aged between one year and six months to two
years old and a young child between the ages of two and
four years old. The infant was discovered in very poor
condition and only a few of the cranial elements were
identifiable along with the teeth. The remaining skeleton
was present, but highly degraded. Similarly the child
burial was heavily fragmented and aside from the teeth
few elements were identifiable.

The two burials were recovered within the confines of the

lower village from Level 4 of Area F, but were placed
outside of any structure unlike the earlier Ubaid burial (D.
Hopwood 2007; Parker et al. 2008, forthcoming). Level 4
occupation, dated between 3360-3020 BCE, is composed
of five separate building phases (A-E) primarily
distinguished by pebble surfaces and plaster floors and a Fig. 13.5. Mud-brick lined burial
series of small overlapping walls without stone founda- of the Late Chalcolithic infant
tions (Parker et al. 2008, forthcoming).

The infant burial was associated with a Phase B multi- The distinction between the two burials is interesting in
roomed structure that opened onto an outside courtyard, light of their age difference. As mentioned earlier, at the
under which the infant was discovered. This structure was Ubaid site of Tell Abada infants and young children were
composed of multiple connecting walls forming two subject to different burial practices. Infants were interred
magazine-type rooms roughly 1 m wide by 2.5 m long. It in simple pits and covered with a ceramic bowl, whereas,
is likely that this structure was used to house animals or older children were placed within urns. A similar
for storage based on its poor construction and lack of differentiation is also seen at the early third millennium
domestic remains. It is possible that an adjacent structure, site of Tell al-Raqa’i in Syria. In this instance infant
which requires further excavation, served as the primary burials from level 2 of the site were never associated with
living space (Parker et al. 2008, forthcoming). Conver- grave goods, whereas, children older than a year were
sely, the older child was placed more to the edge of the associated with a range of goods (Akkermans & Schwartz
settlement in an open area. Little has been discovered in 2003; Dunham 1993). Although the sample is small, these
this area, but some domestic remains have been unco- examples provide good evidence of age-based burial
vered including a broken spindle whorl, part of grinding practices, which may have been present at Kenan Tepe
stone and part of a fishing net weight. during the Late Chalcolithic period. However, there is
also evidence that suggests that the difference in burial
The two children were buried in distinctly different treatment between these two individuals was related to
manners from each other. The infant was placed in an status rather than age. This interpretation is based on the
ovoid pit that was lined on the north, east and south sides presence of a larger mud-brick lined burial of an adult
by three separate unburnt mud bricks (Fig. 13.5). The during this same period (D. Hopwood 2007). The adult
bricks were poorly preserved and likely the burial burial is clearly distinguished from other simple pit
contained a fourth brick on the west side that did not inhumations present at the site during the Late
survive. As is common with infant burials the grave was Chalcolithic period and contains features that indicate it
also barren of burial goods. In contrast to the infant burial, contained an individual of higher status than the other
the young child was interred within a jar, but was also adult burials. Further, the adult burial is in close
lacking any grave goods. The burial jar had no special proximity to the infant, which is suggestive of a shared
treatment and it is not clear if the jar was made strictly for relationship. Although rare, ascribing social status to
the purpose of the child burial or was reused as a burial infants is not unknown in the Late Chalcolithic period. At
vessel. At the Late Chalcolithic site of Hacınebi Tepe, Hacınebi Tepe an infant was discovered buried with a
Şanlıurfa province, Turkey, young children and infants miniature ceramic vessel, a copper ring and two silver
were interred in pots that were both used only for burial earrings, clearly suggestive of an inherited elite identity


(Stein 1997 & 1999). Although there were no grave goods vessels made of a coarse chaff-tempered fabric. They
associated with the Kenan Tepe infant, the similarity and exhibited no special treatment or design and were likely
proximity to the adult burial suggests that this infant may constructed specifically for the purpose of the child
have belonged to a family of higher status. burials. Similar to the jar burial from the Late Chalcolithic
period none of these jar burials appear to have been
The burials of the infant and child demonstrate a shift capped.
away from the practice of burial within the home. By
placing the burials outside the home, yet within the
community, this practice alters the relationship between
the living and the dead. Whereas, in the Ubaid period the
placement of the infant within the walls of the home
suggests a more personal and intimate relationship, the
shift to extramural burial in the Late Chalcolithic period
would have resulted in a more communal remembrance of
the deceased. The dead now become part of the commu-
nity and the group consciousness, rather than that of an
individual family. This pattern of shifting the geography
of the community to reduce the intimacy of the relation-
ship with the dead is further elaborated upon during the
Late Chalcolithic period/ Early Bronze Age transition.


Fig. 13.6. Flexed burial of G.7.25.5
Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze occupation is present on
both the main mound and the upper levels of Area F in the
lower town. This occupation is represented by the In contrast to many child pot burials from Late
presence of mud-brick walls, cobblestone surfaces, ovens Chalcolithic period or Early Bronze Age sites, three of
and an array of domestic artifacts from Area F, as well as these individuals were associated with burial goods.
the presence of a massive fortification/retaining wall that Although not richly adorned, burial G.7.25.5 contained
was constructed in order to encircle the LC 5/EB 1 two ceramic vessels, a bowl and a burnished pedestal
occupation located on the main mound (Parker et al. bowl (Fig. 13.7). These vessels were placed outside the
2005; Creekmore 2007, in press). burial pot in the northern corner of the burial. Similarly,
burial G.7.28.6 contained a single ceramic bowl under the
In 2005 four pot burials were uncovered in Area G (see northern corner of the pot (Fig. 13.8). These vessel forms
Fig. 13.2), located on the northern side of the main mound are not uncommon at Kenan Tepe and in particular the
and to the west of the lower town. This area is notable for pedestal bowl is associated with LC 5/EB 1 transitional
its lack of any domestic remains and absence of building occupation elsewhere on the site (Creekmore 2007, in
or wall construction. Area G is offset from the areas of press). The third burial, G.7.41.2, contained a copper
occupation on both the main mound and the lower town. alloy pin within the burial jar. It is possible that this pin
was simply used to hold together swaddling that the child
The Area G burials are all of young children. Burials could have been wrapped in, however, metal is rare at this
G.7.25.5 and G.7.28.6 consist of a three to five year old site and its presence is interesting.
child and a child between the ages of two and four years
old. Their skeletons were discovered in relatively good It is notable that the location of these four burials differs
condition with the majority of elements identifiable. Both from the inhumations discussed earlier. These children
children were placed into their burial jars in a flexed were interred in an area specifically dedicated to the
position with their heads oriented towards the opening of burials. As mentioned earlier no construction had
the jar (Fig. 13.6). Burials G.7.38.2 and G.7.41.2 were occurred in this area. There were no walls, domestic
both of young children between the ages of one and two structures or tombs, nor was any domestic debris found. It
years old. Unlike the previous two burials, both skeletons appears that these children were buried away from the
were in poor condition and highly fragmented. It was not main living space, in an open air cemetery. This pattern
possible to determine the position of the burial in either of was not unusual for an Early Bronze occupation. In
these cases, but it is likely based on the G.7.25.5 and general, during the Early Bronze Age, children, as well as
G.7.28.6 burials that these children would have been adults, were no longer buried within domestic structures
similarly flexed and oriented. and burials took place away from the living space
(Alpaslan-Roodenberg 2002; Peltenburg 1996). However,
The pots used to inter the children were all of a similar the placement of these burials continues the trend of
make and design. They were relatively large and thick shifting burial practice at Kenan Tepe. With the move-




Fig. 13.8. Bowl found against northern corner

of the G.7.28.6 burial

distinct burial methods were practiced. In the Ubaid

period the single infant present was encased in a plaster
pit and covered with a shallow bowl. Due to the lack of
Fig. 13.7. Burial goods associated remains it is not possible to determine if other burial
with the G.7.25.5 burial methods for children were carried out at this time.
However, if the practice at Kenan Tepe is indeed similar
to that observed at Tell Abada, it is possible that older
ment of burials now outside the confines of the living children would have been buried within pots. During the
area, the dead are removed from the everyday perception Late Chalcolithic period two distinct burial methods were
and consciousness of the Kenan Tepe residents. present. An infant was buried in a mud-brick lined pit,
whereas, an older child was interred within a ceramic jar.
Although, this differentiation suggests a practice of age-
DISCUSSION related burial similar to that seen at Tell Abada and Tell
Raqa’i, the similarity and proximity of the mud-brick
The span of Kenan Tepe’s temporal sequence, encom- lined burial to that of a similar adult burial of higher
passing occupation from the terminal Ubaid period to the status also implies that the difference in burial practice
transition between the Late Chalcolithic period and the might be related to status and not to age. Finally, during
Early Bronze Age, has provided an opportunity to the LC 5/EB 1 transition it appears that all child interment
examine changes in the burial practice of children, as well was carried out within burial jars.
as to comment on the shifting relationship between the
living and dead at Kenan Tepe. Albeit a small sample, In addition to the various burial methods, the changing
analysis of the child burials have demonstrated that over burial practices at Kenan Tepe have implications for how
the course of Kenan Tepe’s occupation three separate and residents would have perceived their social geography


within the site and the negotiated relationship between the burial practice at Kenan Tepe provided an opportunity to
living and the dead (Boyd 1995). According to Parker understand how the alteration of the burial landscape can
Pearson (1999, 140) “where to put the remains of the dead shift the social geography of a community and in doing
is generally not a matter of functional expediency. The so, their negotiated relationship with the dead. The sample
place of the dead in any society will have significant and size from this site is small and the interpretations derived
powerful connotations within people’s perceived social from this analysis must be considered with this in mind.
geographies”. The shifting pattern of child burial at However, although not discussed here, when the adult
Kenan Tepe provides partial evidence for how the social burials from Kenan Tepe are also considered the same
geography within the site was constructed, negotiated and pattern observed for the infant and child burials holds true
changed over time. The Ubaid period at Kenan Tepe (Hopwood, in prep.).
represents a time when even after death a connection was
maintained between the child and the household for both The examination of the child burials at Kenan Tepe
the dead infant and the mother. By placing the burial revealed a trend towards a less personal and more distant
within the home the infant always remains a presence in relationship with the dead. There is a shift from an
the household, whereas, placing the grinding slab with the intimate relationship between the home and the deceased
infant maintains the connection to the mother. in the Ubaid period, to a more general awareness and
memory of the dead within the community during the
The transition to the Late Chalcolithic period at Kenan Late Chalcolithic period. Finally, this relationship
Tepe is accompanied by a change in burial location and transitions to a point where the dead are no longer part of
with it a shift in the relationship between the deceased and the everyday consciousness of the community as they
the living. Burials are now moved outside of the home, have been removed from the domestic area of the
but they still remain within the domestic area. This slight settlement during the Late Chalcolithic period/ Early
change in burial practice alters the deceased’s direct Bronze Age transition.
connection to the home but maintains their memory
within the community (Akkermans & Schwartz 2003).
There is still a personal connection to the dead, but now Acknowledgments
there is an immediate representation of them on the
community landscape and therefore the community’s This paper would not have been possible without the
consciousness. support of Bradley Parker and Lynn Swartz Dodd. They
provided me with the opportunity to travel to Bismil,
Finally, at the transition between the Late Chalcolithic Turkey to study the burials from Kenan Tepe, as well as
period and Early Bronze Age, burial practice once again provided several helpful comments of earlier versions of
shifts and with it the relationship negotiated between the this paper. I am grateful to Susan Pollock, Marie Hop-
living and the dead. The location of LC 5/EB 1 wood, Catherine Painter and Jenni Henecke for comments
transitional burials continues the trend of moving the dead and suggestions on earlier drafts. Finally, thank you to the
away from the living space. No longer are the dead UTARP team for all their assistance.
directly associated with the community as they have been
moved away to an area specifically for burials. In this
manner burials are no longer encountered in daily life. References
The dead have been removed from the living. This shift in
burial practice and placement potentially underscores a AKKERMANS, M.M.G. & G.M. SCHWARTZ 2003.
larger shift in the place of the dead in the everyday The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-
consciousness of the community. By moving the dead Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (ca. 16,000-300).
away from the living space they are removed from the Cambridge: University Press.
immediate memory of people (Akkermans & Schwartz ALPASLAN-ROODENBERG, S. 2002. Preliminary
2003). The dead are now only remembered when one Report on the Human Remains from the Early Bronze
chooses to do so, rather than on an everyday basis. Age Cemetery at Ilıpınar-Hacılartepe. Anatolica 28:
CONCLUSION BINFORD, L.R. 1971. Mortuary Practices: Their Study
and Potential, in J.A. Brown (ed.) Approaches to the
Burials represent a unique cultural artifact that archaeo- Social Dimensions of Mortuary Practices. Memoirs
logists have used to examine a number of questions of the Society for American Archaeology, No. 25: 6-
relating to a communities social structure. Binford (1971) 29. Washington DC: Society for American Archaeo-
and Saxe (1970) spearheaded the theoretical position that logy.
individuals will represent their social position in life with BOYD, B. 1995. Houses and Hearths, Pits and Burials:
their treatment in death. However, burial practices are Natufian Mortuary Practices at Mallaha (Eynan),
also a direct reflection upon how individuals and a Upper Jordan Valley, in S. Campbell & A. Green
community as a whole negotiated the relationship (eds.) The Archaeology of Death in the Ancient Near
between the living and the dead (Boyd 1995). Changes in East: 17-23. Oxford: Oxbow.


CREEKMORE, A. 2007 (in press). The Upper Tigris The Ubaid and Beyond: Exploring the Transmission
Archaeological Research Project (UTARP): A of Culture in the Developed Prehistoric Societies of
Summary and Synthesis of the Late Chalcolithic and the Middle East. Proceedings of the International
Early Bronze Age Remains from the First Three Conference on the Ubaid, Durham, 20-22 April 2006.
Seasons at Kenan Tepe. Anatolica 33. London: The British School of Archaeology in Iraq.
DUNHAM, S. 1993. Beads for Babies. Zeitschrift für PARKER PEARSON, M. 1999. The Archaeology of
Assyriologie 83: 237-57. Death and Burial. Phoenix Mill: Sutton.
HOPWOOD, D.E. 2007. Burial Patterns at Kenan Tepe, PELTENBURG, E.J. 1996. Jerablus-Tahtani, in Mah-
Turkey, paper presented at the Society for American moud al-Zou’bi (ed.) Syrian-European Archaeology
Archaeology 72nd annual meeting, April 25-29, Exhibition: Damascus National Museum May 30th –
Austin, Texas. July 11th 1996: 73-75. Damas: Ministry of Culture.
HOPWOOD, M.H. 2007. The Ubaid Ground Stone PETERSON, J. 1994. Changes in the Sexual Division of
Assemblage from Kenan Tepe, paper presented at the Labor in the Prehistory of the Southern Levant. PhD
Society for American Archaeology 72nd annual Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Arizona
meeting, April 25-29, Austin, Texas. State University, Tempe.
JASIM, S.A. 1985. The Ubaid Period in Iraq: Recent PETERSON, J. 1997. Tracking Activity Patterns through
Excavations in the Hamrin Region. Oxford: B.A.R. Skeletal Remains: A Case Study from Jordan and
International Series 267. Palestine, in H.G. Gebel, Z. Kafifi & G. Rollefson
MURDOCK, G.P. & C. PROVOST 1973. Factors in the (eds.) Prehistory of Jordan. II: 475-492. Berlin: ex
Division of Labor by Sex: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Oriente.
Ethnology 12: 203-225. PETERSON, J. 1999. Early Epipaleolithic Settlement
PANELLI, R. 2004. Social Geographies. London: Sage. Pattern: Insights from the Study of Ground Stone
Tools from the Southern Levant. Levant 31: 1-17.
SASAKI 2002. The Upper Tigris Archaeological PETERSON, J. 2002. Sexual Revolutions: Gender and
Research Project (UTARP): Preliminary Report from Labor at the Dawn of Agriculture. Walnut Creek:
the Year 2000 Excavations at Kenan Tepe, in N. Tuna Altamira.
& J. Velibeyoğlu (eds.) Salvage Project of the ROTHMAN, M. 2001. The Local and the Regional: An
Archaeological Heritage of the Ilısu and Carchemish Introduction, in M. Rothman (ed.) Uruk Mesopotamia
Dam Reservoirs Activities in 2000: 613-643. Ankara: & its Neighbors: Cross-Cultural Interactions in the Era
Middle East Technical University. of State Formation: 3-26. Santa Fe: School of
PARKER, B.J., A. CREEKMORE, L.S. DODD, R. American Research.
PAINE, C. MEEGAN, E. MOSEMAN, M. SAXE, A.A. 1970. Social Dimensions of Mortuary
ABRAHAM & P. COBB 2003. The Upper Tigris Practice. PhD dissertation, University of Michigan,
Archaeological Research Project (UTARP): A Preli- Anne Arbor.
minary Report from the 2001 Field Season. Anatolica
29:103-174. STEIN, G.J., C. EDENS, N. MILLER, H. ÖZBAL, J.
PEARCE & H. PITTMAN 1996. Hacınebi, Turkey:
PARKER, B.J. & L.S. DODD 2005. The Upper Tigris Preliminary Report on the 1995 Excavations. Anato-
Archaeological Research Project (UTARP): A Preli- lica 22: 85-128.
minary Report from the 2002 Field Season. Anatolica
30: 69-110. STEIN, G.J. 1997. 1995 Excavations at Hacınebi Tepe, in
Ayrı Basim (ed.) Kazi Sonuçları Toplantısı: 93-120.
Ankara: Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture,
HEALEY & C. PAINTER 2006. The Upper Tigris
General Directorate of Monuments and Museums.
Archaeological Research Project (UTARP): A Preli-
minary Report from the 2003 and 2004 Field Seasons. STEIN, G.J. 1999. Rethinking World-Systems: Diaspo-
Anatolica 32: 71-151. ras, Colonies, and Interaction in Uruk Mesopotamia.
Tucson: University of Arizona.
HOPWOOD, J. HENECKE & D.E. HOPWOOD 2008 STEIN, G.J. 2001. Indigenous Social Complexity at
(forthcoming). The Upper Tigris Archaeological Hacinebi (Turkey) and the Organization of Uruk Colo-
Research Project (UTARP) and the Curtiss T. and nial Contact, in M. Rothman (ed.) Uruk, Mesopotamia
Mary G. Brennan Foundation: A Preliminary Report and It’s Neighbors: Cross-Cultural Interactions in the
from the 2005 and 2006 Field Seasons at Kenan Tepe. Era of State Formation: 265-306. Sanata Fe: School of
Anatolica. American Research.
PARKER, B.J. (forthcoming). Networks of Interregional THUESEN, I. 1996. Tell Mashnaqa, in Mahmoud al-
Interaction during Mestopotamia’s Ubaid Period: A Zou’bi (ed.) Syrian-European Archaeology Exhibi-
Study Sponsored by the Curtiss T. and Mary G. tion: Damascus National Museum May 30th – July 11th
Brennan Foundation, in R. Carter & G. Philip (eds.) 1996: 47-53. Damas: Ministry of Culture.

Australian National University, Canberra,

Sapporo Medical University, Hokkaido, Japan,

James Cook University, Townsville, Australia,


NGUYEN Lan Cuong
Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi, Vietnam, 61 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hanoi

Australian National University, Canberra,

Australian National University, Canberra

Abstract: This paper looks at a late Neolithic cemetery site dated to approximately 3500 years BP in northern Vietnam. The purpose
is to: (1) use the techniques of mortuary archaeology to shed light on the role of children and adult attitudes towards children at this
site; and (2) assess the level of health and well being of the children. Mortuary methods included an examination of a range of traits
including burial position and orientation as well as the number and manner of grave furniture in respect to age-at-death and sex
where possible. In terms of health, measures or signatures of cribra orbitalia, enamel hypoplasia and oral health were investigated.
It was found that many of the non-surviving children at Man Bac suffered from physiological insult and severe dental caries. Fertility
was elevated in comparison to other prehistoric Southeast Asian skeletal assemblages and the number of living children at Man Bac,
at any given time, was likely elevated. Despite high infant mortality, all individuals, regardless of age, received some form of basic
mortuary treatment. The nature and type of mortuary treatment at Man Bac suggests children were recognised as members of the
community, with economic and social value. There is some indication that different developmental and/or social stages were recog-
nised through mortuary treatment and that childhood may have finished rather early, in terms of chronological age, at Man Bac.
Key Words: Vietnam, Neolithic, childhood, health, mortuary, behaviour

Résume: Cet article concerne un cimetière du Néolithique tardif dans le nord du Vietnam vers 3500 BP. Son but est d’employer les
techniques de l’archéologie mortuaire pour (1) clarifier le rôle des enfants et les attitudes des adultes envers les enfants sur ce site et
(2) juger du niveau de santé des enfants, L’analyse mortuaire examine la position de l’enterrement et son orientation, ainsi que le
type et la quantité du dépôt funéraire vis-à-vis de l’âge du défunt et de son sexe, si possible. Pour étudier la santé, nous avons
examiné les mesures ou signatures des cribra orbitalia, l’hypoplasie de l’émail dentaire et la santé orale. On constate que beaucoup
des enfants décédés à Man Bac ont subi des insultes physiologiques et de sévères caries dentaires. Le taux de fertilité étant assez
élevé par rapport à d’autres ensembles de squelettes préhistoires en Asie du sud-est, il y a eu sans doute à Man Bac, à tout moment
donné, un assez grand nombre d’enfants. Malgré le taux élevé de mortalité infantile, tous les individus, de n’importe quel âge, ont
reçu un traitement mortuaire de base. La manière et le type du traitement mortuaire à Man Bac laissent penser que les enfants
étaient membres à part entière de la communauté, des points de vues économiques et sociaux. Il ya quelque indications que le
traitement mortuaire tenait compte de certaines étapes de développement physique et/ou d’étapes sociales; à Man Bac l’enfance a pu
se terminer assez tôt, par rapport à l’âge chronologique.
Mots Clefs: Vietnam, Néolithique, enfance, santé, funéraire, comportement

INTRODUCTION logical perspective, the children have always been there

and have formed an important, and highly visible, portion
Kamp (2001, 1) asked “where have all the children of the data set both globally (see contributions in Cohen
gone?” in reference to a lack of archaeological studies & Armelagos 1984, published over two decades ago) and,
that focused on children in the past. From a bioarchaeo- more recently, in Southeast Asia (see contributions in


Oxenham & Tayles 2006, for example). However, despite interpreted as indicating the inhabitants of Man Bac
a recent increase in the number of volumes focusing on maintained connections with surrounding coastal cultures
the archaeology of children (e.g. Sofaer Derevenski 2000; such as the Ha Long and Hoa Loc groups. An enormous
Wileman 2005; Ardren & Hutson 2006) the emphasis on array and variety of objects have been excavated to date.
mortuary studies in Southeast Asia, represented by For the 2004/5 season alone, 394 stone artefacts
Thailand for the most part, has remained fixed on aspects (including adzes, axes, chisels, blades, grinding stones,
of social organisation (see for example Higham & net sinkers, nephrite beads and rings), 100 complete
Kijngam 1984; Higham & Thosarat 1998 & 2004; Talbot ceramics (in the form of cooking pots, bell-mouthed
2002). Nonetheless, the tide seems to be turning with vases, footed bowls and cups) and 50.000 pottery sherds
Bacus’ (in press) analysis of gender in prehistoric Thai- were recovered.
land and now with this current examination of aspects of
childhood in northern Vietnam. Much is now known Work on the faunal remains from the 2004/5 season
regarding aspects of adult health and disease in prehistoric indicates a subsistence base rich in both terrestrial and
and proto-historic northern Vietnam (Oxenham et al. aquatic resources. Sawada and Vu (2005) have identified
2005 & 2006; Oxenham 2006), but very little is known of a range of fish species with Black sea bream (Acantho-
childhood health and well being during this period of pagrus sp.) followed by Perch (Percichthyidae indet.)
time. Excavations of a late Neolithic cemetery site in being particularly common and indicating fishing beha-
northern Vietnam has now provided the opportunity to viours that concentrated on bay and coastal regions. A
learn more of a very poorly sampled period of Vietna- wealth of terrestrial remains including rhinoceros, various
mese prehistory in the context of childhood behaviour, forms of deer, rat, dog, serow and pig indicate both rich
attitudes towards children and child health and well being. terrestrial resources and ability to successfully target such
mammals. Sawada & Vu (2005) also suggest there is
The aim of this paper is to: (1) examine aspects of evidence for the domestication of pigs, at least, based on
mortuary behaviour, particularly in terms of what this can the high number of juvenile Sus remains. Presumably
tell us of the role of children and adult attitudes towards some form of horticulture or agriculture was practiced at
children in late Neolithic Man Bac, Vietnam; and (2) Man Bac although the direct floral evidence for this is
discuss biological characteristics of the human sample, currently lacking. The remains and associated material
again focusing on the children, in order to explore aspects culture of the three excavation seasons, 46/48 inhuma-
of childhood well-being, or palaeohealth, at Man Bac. tions, forms the focus of this study. Huffer (2005) in a
Masters thesis has already examined aspects of social
organisation at Man Bac and found the community to
BIO-CULTURAL CONTEXT have had limited social differentiation and been more
heterarchical in structure, as opposed to hierarchical or
The following account is based on preliminary analyses ranked. Huffer also suggested that social differentiation
reported on by Dung (2005). The site of Man Bac is was more strongly expressed in terms of age, rather than
located next to Bach Lien Village, Yen Thanh Commune, sex or gender. The current paper will add further mortuary
Yen Mo District, 20°08’00” North and 109°59’017” East. dimensions to our understanding of the Phung Nguyen
Man Bac was identified by Colani in 1916 (see Trinh Culture in northern Vietnam generally and Man Bac in
2004) and was first excavated by a Vietnamese archaeo- particular.
logical team in 1999 where a 5x5m pit to approximately
2m in depth revealed three clear stratigraphic layers, two
upper occupation and one lower burial level that con- METHODS
tained six inhumations. A subsequent 5x6m excavation
directly west of the first by the same team uncovered 12 Given the emphasis on the archaeology of childhood in
inhumations. Work at the site continued in 2004/5, again this paper, the mortuary analysis focused on: (1) the
to the west of the previous excavation, with a consortium spatial distribution of graves by age class and the (2) type
of Vietnamese, Japanese and Australians uncovering a and relative frequency of preserved grave inclusions by
further 30 inhumations in a 6x6m pit. Preliminary age class. Given the high proportion of subadult remains
analyses suggest that two distinct cultural phases are at Man Bac the chief biological discriminator was age
associated with three stratigraphic levels: phase one with rather than sex, which cannot be reliably determined in
the upper level and phase two with the second occupation individuals under 15 years without DNA typing.
level and the lower, third, burial level. Further, Dung
(2005) believes that these occupation layers were of a Adult age-at-death was determined using appropriate
relatively brief duration. osteological methods (Buikstra & Ubelaker 1994). Sub-
adults were aged predominantly through observations of
The site is best seen as an example of the late Neolithic/ the dentition alone. The dentition, both calcification and
early Bronze Age in the region (referred to as the Phung eruption, is the most reliable way in which to estimate the
Nguyen) with some material cultural evidence suggesting age-at-death of subadults, particularly those aged less than
links to the previous established Neolithic Da But period 15 years. Published standards from White (2000) and
culture. Further, pottery styles and motifs have been Buikstra & Ubelaker (1994) were used to establish dental





% individuals

<1 1 to 4 5 to 9 10 to 14 15 to 20 20+
age class (years)

Fig. 14.1. Age specific mortality at Man Bac (all excavation seasons, n=46)

age. It is appreciated that these published standards have used on Southeast Asian assemblages (see Pietrusewsky
been derived from non-Asian populations and are used in & Douglas 2002; Domett & Tayles 2006) can be found in
the absence of more population specific information. Jackes (1992; see also Chamberlain 2006).
Scheur & Black (2000) provide detailed information
regarding the development of individual skeletal elements When recording signatures of physiological well-being,
and these were used to estimate the age-at-death of MB05 all cranial material with at least the preservation of the
B7 (MB: Man Bac; 05: year of excavation 2005; B7: anterolateral and anteromedial portions of the orbital roof
burial number 7) as a possible 38 week foetus or stillborn. of at least one orbit was assessed for cribra orbitalia (CO).
It was not necessary to use diaphyseal lengths from Lesions were recorded as active or remodelled after Webb
published standards to estimate age-at-death in other (1995, 90). All visible teeth were macroscopically
individuals as most had a reliable dental age. Those assessed for signs of linear enamel hypoplasia (defects
individuals who also had diaphyseal lengths measured corresponding to the DDE index type 4, Federation
were used to assist in the aging of other individuals Dentaire International 1982), severity was recorded using
without dentition. This created a ‘population-specific’ set Duray’s (1996) categories and only deciduous teeth
of standards rather than relying on age estimates from results are reported here. Oral health was assessed by way
diaphyseal lengths of unrelated populations. Epiphyseal of macroscopic examination of the teeth and surrounding
fusion stages were predominantly from Scheur & Black boney tissues. Ante mortem tooth loss and changes to the
(2000) and were useful for aging older children and alveolar bone were assessed for any signs of infection
adolescents. There were two individuals (MB05 B6 and and/or remodelling. Carious lesions were assessed after
MB05 B22) who had neither dentition nor diaphyseal the protocol outlined in Hillson (2001).
lengths with which to estimate age-at-death. For these
individuals, sections of their long bones were compared to
similar bone sections in individuals aged by their RESULTS
Health Analysis
Three palaeodemographic measures of fertility were
calculated for the complete sample. The juvenile/adult Palaeodemography
ratio (JA: ratio children aged 5 to 15 years to adults 20+
years old), and mean childhood mortality (MCM) both Figure 14.1 summarizes the age specific mortality
increase with increasing fertility, while the D20+/D5 ratio distribution of Man Bac. Over 54% of the sample is aged
(proportion of those living beyond 20 years to all those less than 5 years at death while nearly 33% are adult
that made it to at least 5 years) decreases with increasing (older than 15 years at death). The absence of individuals
fertility. Details and assumptions underlying these aged 10 to 14 years reflects the very low risk of death in
palaeodemographic measures, that have previously been this age category (Chamberlain 2006, 62). A comparison


Table 14.1. Demographic attributes of several Southeast Asian skeletal assemblages

date (years BP)1 subsistence12 <5 5-9.9 10-14.9 15-19.9 20+ JA Ratio D20+/D5+ MCM DR
Man Bac 3500-4000 A?/F 54,3 13,0 0,0 15,2 17,4 0,78 0,500 0,417 4,48
Khok Phanom Di 3500-4000 A/F 48,1 4,5 3,2 5,2 39,0 0,20 0,750 0,091 1,30
Early Non Nok Tha 4800-3400 M 27,7 4,8 2,4 2,4 62,6 0,12 0,867 0,047 1,27
Early Ban Chiang 4100-2900 M 20,6 5,4 2,2 7,9 64,5 0,12 0,851 0,052 0,52
Late Non Nok Tha 3400-2200 M 5,0 5,0 2,5 1,3 86,3 0,09 0,908 0,032 0,30
Ban Lum Khao 3000-2500 M 32,7 10,3 4,7 4,7 47,6 0,30 0,708 0,108 1,38
Late Ban Chiang 2900-1800 M 17,4 6,5 0,0 10,9 65,3 0,10 0,842 0,055 0,48
Noen U-Loke 2300-1700 A/H 43,0 2,8 2,8 3,7 47,7 0,11 0,709 0,058 1,45
Adapted from Oxenham et al. (2006)
A: agriculture; H: horticulture; M: mixed; F: foraging/hunting

Table 14.2. Early childhood caries (≤3 years) experience in prehistoric Southeast Asia
deciduous teeth individuals
site n obs 3 % n obs %
Man Bac 71 6(5) 8,5 6 3 50,0
Ban Na Di1 46 9(7) 19,6 4 1 25,0
Ban Lum Khao1 133 3(3) 2,3 12 2 16,7
Khok Phanom Di2 62 3(2) 4,8 6 2 33,3
Domett (2001, & unpublisged data); 2Tayles (1999), Sian Halcrow pers. comm.
Number of affected incisors/canines in parentheses

with other skeletal assemblages in the region (Table 14.1) Table 14.2 summarizes caries in the limited samples of
indicates that Man Bac has an elevated level of sub-five young children in Southeast Asian prehistoric sites. While
year old mortality. Khok Phanom Di, Noen U-Loke and the Man Bac data set is still incomplete, this table
Ban Lum Khao are similar to Man Bac in terms of high indicates that Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is elevated at
young child mortality. Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha have Man Bac. Further, only Man Bac children display carious
depressed levels of young child mortality which suggests lesions that cause massive crown destruction (Fig. 14.2).
they may be unrepresentative and of limited comparative This illustration also displays staining to what would have
value. An examination of a range of palaeodemographic been exposed enamel during life (the unstained band of
indicators (Table 14.1) suggest that there was an excep- enamel near the neck of the teeth in this photo would have
tionally high rate of fertility at Man Bac as indicated by a been covered by soft tissue during life and prevented sta-
low D20+/D5+ ratio, and relatively high juvenile: adult ining of the protected enamel). Two of the three children
(JA) and mean childhood mortality (MCM) ratios. The with massive crown lesions displayed this staining.
closest assemblage to Man Bac in terms of these measures
of fertility is Ban Lum Khao, followed by Noen U-Loke
and also Khok Phanom Di which shows somewhat elevated
levels of fertility. A further demographic indicator is the
dependency ratio, which indicates what can be termed a
“hard life’ at Man Bac with a high number of children per
adult. Noen U-Loke, Ban Lum Khao and Khok Phanom Di
also show elevated dependency levels.

Oral Health

A little over half the entire assemblage of children (18/31,

58%) aged 10 years or younger has been assessed for
various aspects of health. Of these 18 children, six were
less than a year old and none of their teeth had erupted,
while 3/18 were aged between 1 and 3 years and did not
have assessable teeth. Of the remaining nine children, six
were aged 1 to 3 years and three between 3 and 10 years
old. Of these nine children four displayed carious lesions Fig. 14.2. Massive carious lesion to right dm1
and three of these were aged 1 to 3 years (1/2 of this age and note also focal demineralisation of left d12
class). (MB05 B18, 18 month old infant)


Table 14.3. Frequency of cribra orbitalia in Man Bac children ≤ 10 years old at death
age n slight/mild severe active remodelled total%
< 1 year 4 1 0 1 0 25,0
1 to <3 years 4 2 1 3 0 75,0
3 to 10 years 3 0 1 1 0 33,3
total 11 3 2 5 0 45,5

15-17 years Unanalysed burial

<1 year

1-4 years 18-20 years

Putative burial cluster

5-10 years 21+ years

Fig. 14.3. Distribution of burials by age for the three excavation seasons at Man Bac

Physiological Health: Cribra Orbitalia and LEH with events during the last five months in utero through to
one year of age (Goodman et al. 1984). These findings are
Table 14.3 summarises the evidence for cribra orbitalia in comparable to other Southeast Asian subadult assembla-
the sample. Of the 11 children with assessable orbits, ges where no signs of enamel hypoplasia were found at
45.5% displayed active (no sign of remodelling) lesions. Nong Nor, Ban Lum Khao and Ban Na Di (deciduous
Two infants, approximately 18 months old, had severe tooth sample sizes were 86, 182 and 69 respectively;
forms of this lesion (the same two individuals with Domett 2001). While linear defects were not seen at Khok
massive deciduous tooth lesions) while the remaining Phanom Di, Tayles (1999) recorded 7%, 14/200 deci-
cases were mild. In comparison with other Southeast duous teeth, with hypoplastic defects.
Asian Assemblages the frequency of cribra orbitalia in
subadult remains is not unusual. At Khok Phanom Di MORTUARY ANALYSIS
75% (10/14 individuals) of subadults aged from 1 to 14
years displayed cribrotic lesions, while most (7/8 Burial Distribution and Orientation
individuals) aged between 6 and 14 years had lesions.
However, no (0/63) infants less than one year old Figure 14.3 shows the distribution of all burials for each
displayed lesions (Tayles 1999). At Ban Chiang the of the three excavation seasons. The squares represent
overall frequency of cribra orbitalia was 40% (6/15 putative clusters, defined by way of spatial proximity to
individuals) in children aged 7 years or less, while no other burials. An untested hypothesis is that such clusters
children (0/4) aged less than 2 years old had lesions may represent groups of related individuals that were
(Pietrusewsky & Douglas 2002). interred beneath elevated houses. Of these nine potential
clusters, all include an adult and a range of younger
Enamel hypoplasia was not evident in any of the nine individuals. The majority of burials (95%, 40/42), where
individuals and 78 deciduous teeth observed so far. position could be assessed, were extended with arms at
Observations in the deciduous dentition would coincide sides. Two burials (an adult male > 40 years and a young


Table 14.4. Distribution of Man Bac grave goods by age-at-death

Individuals with Individuals with Individuals with non-ceramic grave goods by type
age n grave goods 1 ceramics non-ceramics shell stone tool bone tool pellet bead
<1 10 6/10 (60) 6/6 (100) 3/6 (50) 2/10 (20) 1/10 (10)
1 to 4 15 8/15 (53) 6/8 (75) 3/8 (38) 1/15 (7) 1/15 (7) 1/15 (7) 1/7 (15)
5 to 9 6 6/6 (100) 6/6 (100) 3/6 (50) 2/6 (33) 1/6 (17) 1/6 (17)
10 to 14 0 0/0 (0) 0/0 (0) 0/0 (0)
15 to 20 7 7/7 (100) 7/7 (100) 1/7 (14) 1/7 (14) 1/7 (14)
20+ 8 7/8 (88) 6/7 (86) 4/7 (57) 2/8 (25) 1/8 (13) 1/8 (13) 1/8 (13)
Total 46 34/46 (74) 31/34 (91) 14/31 (45) 7/46 (15) 4/46 (9) 2/46 (4) 3/46 (7) 2/46 (4)
observed/n (%); shell refers to ornaments and/or implements; pellets are clay (projectile?) balls; beads are worked nephrite





60% 3+ ceramics
% ceramics

2 ceramics
1 ceramic

0 ceramics





<1 1 to 4 5 to 9 15 to 19 20+
age class (years)

Fig. 14.4. Frequency of ceramics per grave by age class

adult aged 15, likely male) were flexed and one child Of all individuals with grave goods, 41% (14/34) were
(possibly two) was interred in a ceramic pot. For those interred with at least one non-ceramic object. Further,
burials where an axis of orientation could be determined 71% (10/14) of these people had only one type, 21% had
88% (37/42) were placed in an east (head) to west (feet) 2 types and 7% had 3 types of non-ceramic artefact.
direction while the remaining burials were oriented Among individuals with non-ceramics, 37.5% of indivi-
approximately, or slightly varying from, north (head) to duals had some form of shell, 25% had stone artefacts
south (feet). with bone artefacts, clay pellets and stone beads each
being found in 12.5% of interments.
General Mortuary Treatment
Mortuary Treatment by Age
Of the 46 individuals examined here, 34 (74%) possessed
some form of grave good. Of all those individuals with Table 14.4 summarises mortuary goods by age class. It
grave goods, 91% (31/34) had at least one ceramic object can be seen that, with one exception, all individuals 5
while 65% of these cases (20/31) only possessed years or older have some form of grave good. Children
ceramics. Of all burials with ceramics, 90% (28/31) had at aged less than 5 had a 50:50 chance of receiving a grave
least one redware vessel. The positioning of ceramic good. The number of ceramics placed in graves increases
goods did not vary by age or sex with placement by the with increasing age-at-death (Fig. 14.4). An exception
head (55.6%) being most common, followed by positi- to this trend is seen in burial 3 (six month old infant:
oning by the torso (28.9%), between the legs (8.9%) and Fig. 14.5) that was interred with two small red ware
finally at the feet (6.7%). pots and a clay pellet. There are only three other children,


Fig. 14.5. Six month old infant (MB05 B05) with two small pots (a clay pellet, ~1cm diameter,
was also recovered amongst broken pottery in this grave)

Fig. 14.6. Close up of the hands of an 8 to 9 year old child (MB05 B25) grasping large bivalve shell

aged between 7 and 10 years, that possessed two cera- being the only individual to have what may be “shell
mics. knives” (large elongated bivalve shells) and be actively
engaging with a grave good (grasping these “knives”).
Table 14.4 also summarises the distribution of non- With the exception of two mature adults (MB 05 B28 and
ceramic grave furnishings by age. Shell was found in all B29), this child has the “richest” grave in terms of the
age classes except one (15-20 years), tools (bone and number and variety of material culture.
stone) were not found with very young children and only
children aged less than 5 years and a single adult male Regarding grave morphology, only children received
aged approximately 20 years had clay pellets. Further, some form of obvious encasement or grave demarcation
nephrite beads were only found with young children and and this was rare: one clear stone circle (18 month old
mature adults. An 8 year old child is unique (Fig. 14.6) in infant) and one probable deliberate multiple stone place-


ment (less than 12 month old infant); one pot burial (e.g. Dennison 1996; Milnes 1996). While bottle feeding
(approximately 2 year old child). The use of some form of would seem unlikely 3500 years ago in northern Viet-
burial wrapping cannot be ruled out for many burials but nam, there is some evidence that breast feeding may in-
appears unlikely when examining the position of feet and crease the risk of ECC, although a recent comprehensive
hands. As many of the younger children were positioned review of the literature disputes this (Ribeiro & Ribeiro
with splayed knees it is improbable that they were 2004). While human breast milk has a very low cario-
wrapped before burial. genecity (Ribeiro & Ribeiro 2004), prolonged breast
feeding, in conjunction with night time feeding, has been
linked to an increased risk of developing ECC in one
DISCUSSION Burmease study at least (van Palenstein Helderman et al.
2006). Prolonged breast feeding, including night time
Health feeding with children sleeping next to mothers, is
common in modern Southeast Asia (van Palenstein
Early childhood caries (ECC) was clearly an important Helderman et al. 2006).
health issue at Man Bac. There is an enormous literature
concerning ECC which has variously been referred to as Levels of oral hygiene also have an effect on the risk of
nursing-bottle or baby-bottle caries, rampant caries and developing ECC but is difficult to isolate from other
labial caries (Slavkin 1999). From this literature a number factors such as feeding habits (see above), development of
of potentially relevant factors associated with increased the child’s immune system and so forth (Seow 1998). The
risk of ECC are discussed here. The risk of developing reddish staining observed on the teeth of both of the most
ECC is greatly increased with increased levels of mutans severely affected infants appears to be associated with the
streptococci (Milgrom et al. 2000; Thorild et al. 2002). carious lesions. While the staining is clearly ante mortem,
While cariogenic bacteria can readily be transmitted from without further study it is not possible to determine if the
mother to child (Caufield et al. 1993) the successful staining occurred before, and thus contributed to the
transmission and subsequent colonization of the child’s development of the lesions, or after the lesions appeared.
oral cavity by these organisms is complex and ultimately The deciduous dentition at this age (both children were
related to a number of factors reliant on diet (Boggess & around 18 months old) would still be going through the
Edelstein 2006). A recent study of a semi-urban/rural process of re-mineralisation and de-mineralisation and
community in Myanmar found an increased risk of ECC would be at a relatively greater risk of discolouration
associated with children that had been fed pre-masticated from certain foods and medications (such as tetracycline
rice by their mothers (van Palenstein Hilderman et al. staining in recent times). The colour of the staining
2006). resembles the effects of betel nut (Areca catechu) con-
sumption in later Bronze Age communities in the region
Fluoride is a well known caries prophylactic (Leverett (see Oxenham et al. 2002). A vast range of medical
1982) and high rates of caries have been associated with conditions have attracted the use of betel nut (Perry 1980,
low levels of fluoride in the ground water (e.g. Sealy et al. 302), which may have included feeding infants with
1992). The ground water fluoride levels are not known for extremely painful massive carious lesions the juice of pre-
Man Bac and neither is it known if this community relied masticated Areca catechu.
on ground water or rain water, as is common in modern
rural communities in Thailand (Vachirarojpisan et al. A further factor, not discussed above, is increased risk of
2004). Other studies of prehistoric populations (Kelley et ECC through predisposing conditions such as deciduous
al. 1991; Larsen et al. 1991) have also indicated the tooth enamel hypoplasia. It was pointed out earlier in the
generally cariostatic nature of a marine diet. The analysis paper that no evidence for deciduous tooth enamel
of faunal remains from Man Bac suggests an important hypoplasia was observed. However, in the case of the two
marine component to the diet (Sawada & Long 2005). infants with severe lesions, the massive crown destruction
Even discounting fluoride, protein rich marine diets have may have disguised the presence of enamel hypoplastic
been associated with the likely prophylactic effect of lesions. ECC aside, deciduous enamel hypoplasia would
increased levels of tooth abrasion (Sealy et al. 1992; develop between approximately 5 months in utero and
Littleton & Frohlich 1993) as well as increased oral cavity one year. If illness, stress or malnutrition was present
alkalinity (Littleton & Frohlich 1993) inhibiting bacterial among the sampled children, it may have been acute
activity (Powell 1985). Nonetheless, infants as young as rather than chronic. Deciduous tooth enamel hypoplasia is
two years may not have been consuming the portions of a rare in Southeast Asian assemblages and it may be that
marine diet that contain stored fluoride (the bones of fish) the stresses associated with weaning, solid foods and
or benefiting from coarse foods and attendant natural various other factors that increase the risk of disease in
abrasion. infants were not occurring until after the first year of life.

There is a large modern clinical literature looking at the While only 11 children 10 years of age or younger could
relationship between ECC and bottle feeding; either be included in the study of cribra orbitalia, nearly half had
bottled formulae or fruit juices and other forms of lesions and these were all active. Moreover, half of the
sweetened liquids taken through an artificial teat or straw children aged 3 years or younger also had active lesions.


These rates are similar to that seen in children at Ban which suggests a rather difficult life. However, such a
Chiang and Khok Phanom Di and suggest the non-sur- conclusion needs to consider the observation that in many
viving children in Southeast Asia were under considerable agricultural societies children are, more often than not,
physiological stress at the time of death. Cribra orbitalia is cared for by other children (Zeller 1987), thus freeing the
often associated with anaemia (e.g. Stuart-Macadam time of parents and other adult care givers for other tasks.
1985), a condition with multiple potential aetiologies, a The costs associated with more children may not have
range of inflammatory conditions (e.g. Wapler et al. been that great at Man Bac, and indeed, the benefits in
2004), or scurvy (e.g. Ortner et al. 1999). Intriguingly, the terms of the economic contribution of the children may
two most severe cases of cribra orbitalia were associated have tipped the balance in favour of higher fertility.
with the two infants with the most severe carious lesions. Lillehammer’s (2000, 23) observation is relevant here:
The synergistic effects of the disease conditions respon- “[i]n such a young population children could be raised in
sible for ECC and cribra orbitalia in these two children, at a world of children, take care of other children and
the very least, may have played a role in their eventual contribute to society through child labour”.
The high proportion of subadults in the sample influence
the palaeodemographic indicators in suggesting very high Carr (1995, 165) found intra-cemetery grave location is
levels of fertility at Man Bac, greater even than seen at often reflective of kin relations. The apparent clustering
roughly contemporaneous sites such as Ban Lum Khao of inhumations as well as the observation that at least one
and Khok Phanom Di in Thailand. Competing reasons for adult and a range of younger age categories form these
apparently high subadult mortality include sampling bias, clusters, suggests family groupings, perhaps beneath
an epidemic or disease that targeted children at Man Bac, domestic, mortuary or other structures at Man Bac. Three
or a culturally mediated form of infant mortality such as more basic aspects of mortuary treatment at Man Bac
infanticide. Sampling bias seems unlikely given that include: (1) the orientation of the body (generally head to
children, even the very young, do not appear to have been the east and feet to the west); (2) supine burials with arms
buried in separate locations and skeletal preservation was at sides for the most part; and (3) the inclusion of the
excellent at the site. Epidemics and increased childhood default grave good, a ceramic that was often in the form
mortality due to some unknown disease factor cannot be of a redware pot. Body orientation and positioning are
tested at present. An epidemic scenario, at least, does not often, ethnographically, associated with philosophical
appear to be consistent with the time and energy spent on and/or religious beliefs (Carr 1995). The ubiquity of
child burials (all buried in possible family clusters, and pottery may also have a more fundamental eschatological
receiving site specific normative body positioning and meaning as well, rather than being a signifier of
orientation). However, the observation that approximately individual identity or some aspect of social organisation at
half of the burials of children aged five or younger do not Man Bac.
possess grave goods could be interpreted as lowered
mortuary investment in a high risk-of-death age class. The number of ceramic objects and other, non-ceramic,
material culture were perhaps used to denote aspects of
It has been suggested that in the past infanticide is more identity. For instance, adult males (outnumber females
often the rule, rather than the exception (Williamson 7:4) are not uniquely distinguished by any form or
1978, 61). Scrimshaw (1984) distinguishes between more quantity of grave furnishings. Nephrite beads are not
overt forms of infanticide (deliberate killing) and more found in adult female burials and are only seen in the
passive forms (include a range of infant neglect strategies richest male grave and the 2 to 3 year old child interred in
that can take years to reach a conclusion). While the latter a pot (MB05 B01). Further, clay pellets were found in the
would be very difficult to observe archaeologically, the same male grave and the graves of two young children
more overt type “almost always occurs at birth or very (MB05 B01 and B03) but not in adult female graves.
shortly thereafter” (Scrimshaw 1984, 449). Given that Adult females, on the other hand, are interred with a range
only a single neonate (MB05 B07) has been recovered of non-ceramic objects absent in adult male graves but
from Man Bac, the overt form of infanticide, at least, does seen in children’s graves, shell artefacts being the most
not appear to have occurred. common. Intriguingly, one adult female and an unsexed
16 year old subadult possess the only two worked bone
It is proposed that high rates of infant mortality at Man implements used as grave furnishings, while another adult
Bac say more about fertility than sampling error, female and a 5 year old child are the only individuals to
epidemics or infanticide. Increasing levels of fertility are possess nephrite adzes.
seen in many sites around the globe with the adoption of
agricultural subsistence economies (e.g. Bocquet-Appel & In the absence of DNA sexing of the children it is difficult
Naji 2006). While there is no direct evidence for rice to discuss the possible implications regarding the children
agriculture at Man Bac, long-grain rice has been recove- and gender. Nonetheless, it seems apparent, with the
red from other Phung Nguyen sites in the region (Nguyen current sample at least, that some females and some
et al. 2004). The high rate of fertility at Man Bac was children were interred with similar types of objects,
perhaps tempered by an extremely high dependency ratio, particularly shell ornaments and apparent implements


(nephrite adzes and bone tools for instance), while participate “in social and economic life” (Sofaer Dereven-
nephrite beads and clay pellets are found in the graves of ski 2000, 11) and are not simply passive and dependent
children and an apparently high status male. If it is consumers. Zeller (1987) summarises a number of ethno-
accepted that modes of production are generally passed on graphic studies of agricultural, pastoral and hunter-
along gender lines in small scale societies (Goody 1989; gatherer communities and finds substantive economic
Grimm 2000), it may be that females controlled both the contributions can begin as early as 3 years of age,
economic activities, and the reproduction or transmission although the period between 6 and 10 years appeared to
of associated skill sets, associated with nephrite adzes, be more important or common in terms of initial eco-
bone implements and perhaps shell implements (only one nomic contributions. In such a context, an 8 to 9 year old
child has what may be interpreted as shell implements: child might conceivably be seen as an accomplished craft-
see below) and shell ornaments at Man Bac. sperson in their own right, if aspects of his/her economic
prowess are being observed here.
What the association between nephrite beads and clay
pellets with a high status male and two children is remains Both gender and vertical social position can be signified
more ambiguous. The small (approximately 1 cm by the type of grave furnishing placed with the deceased
diameter) spherical clay pellets were ubiquitous in the (see Carr 1995, 169), although the type of artefacts, and
upper layers and have been excavated in many other sites particularly the quantity, are weakly associated with
in prehistoric Thailand. Ethnographically, such pellets are vertical rank (Tainter 1978; Carr 1995). That this inter-
used as projectiles in a bamboo bow for the hunting of ment is unique may be reason enough to see the child as
small animals such as birds (Higham & Kijngam 1984, having some form of exceptional status in the community,
197). The jar burial child (MB05 B01) was too disturbed or within her/his family at least, while the presence of so
to determine exactly how the pellet related to the rest of much shell suggests the child may have been female.
the material culture of this burial. However, with the other Whether such an individual was still a child is difficult to
child, aged 18 months (MB05 B03), the pellet was assess. In 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain, for instance,
associated with broken pottery. Crawford (2000) has children were legally adult at 10 years old (Crawford
recounted several Anglo-Saxon examples of possible 1991).
rattles where children were interred with pots containing
nails or stones. At the least, it is worth considering the If we focus on children’s interments it can be seen that
types of objects children may collect or use in play. their graves are characterised by the exclusion and inclu-
Crawford (2000, 174) notes “that where Anglo-Saxon sion of a range of objects, some shared with adult females
children do use material objects as the focus of play, these as already mentioned. With one possible exception only
items are requisitioned from their environment or from children’s (all less than 3 years at death) interments can
the adult world”. lack any form of grave good. The possible exception
(B10, adult male approximately 40 years at death) was
One of the most interesting burials is the 8 to 9 year old poorly preserved and its lack of grave furnishings may be
child (B24) interred with two globular pots at the head, a more a feature of taphonomic process than a lack of
cowrie necklace, a large bivalve (perhaps knives) grasped mortuary treatment. In fact 11/25 children, all aged 2
in each hand and placed on what appears to be a compact years or less, lack grave goods of any form. The lack of
bed of crushed shell (for rather obvious reasons this child non-perishable grave goods with many children less than
was nicknamed the ‘shell child’). Because this individual 2 suggests an important threshold or social milestone is
is unique it becomes particularly difficult to interpret. achieved once a child turns 2 years of age.
Carr (1995, 174) notes there is a shift from personal
identity to social categories in mortuary treatment with While half of the children aged 2 years or younger did not
increases in socio-political complexity. The mortuary receive non-perishable grave furnishings, very young
treatment of the shell child may be more an expression of infants, the six month old infant B3 for instance, could be
important aspects of the child’s identity than anything afforded potentially specially produced miniaturised
else. No other interment at Man Bac has provided an ceramics as grave furnishings. Further, only young
example whereby the deceased had been positioned in a children, albeit rarely, received any clear form of grave
way that suggests active engagement with a piece of boundaries, whether in terms of encasement in a pot or
material culture. Without exception, material culture is demarcation of the grave using stones. Such children
positioned by or on the body in a passive manner (adze could be interpreted in the context of ascribed status, but
placed on the chest or pot placed between the legs for this seems unlikely as the only reasonably clear form of
instance). vertical differentiation seen at Man Bac is age-based, with
a correlation between an increasing number of ceramics
Why was this child singled out for such treatment? What and increasing age-at-death. Over compensated parental
is this staged engagement with these “knives” supposed to grief is often the competing alternative in such cases (e.g.
represent? These questions are, of course, impossible to Parker Pearson 1999, 77-78), but is impossible to verify.
answer but open to speculation. Minimally, it is argued It is worth noting that both social factors and philo-
here, the shell child was an active social and perhaps sophical/religious factors are commonly associated with
economic agent in this community. Children clearly formal grave demarcation (Carr 1995). Again, in lieu of


any other evidence suggesting the presence of anything children at Man Bac were raised in a community of
other than some form of age-based vertical differentiation many other children that both cared for and took care of
at Man Bac, formal grave demarcation (by way of stone each other.
arrangements or pot burials) may be saying more about
aspects of the eschatology of the Man Bac community In terms of attitudes towards children, everyone received
than anything else. some form of basic mortuary treatment regardless of age.
That everyone buried at Man Bac had access to such
The reasons for the increased energy expenditure in some rights, and that some children (as young as six months
children’s graves and minimal mortuary treatment in old) received special treatment suggests that children had
others are unclear. Nonetheless, it is clear that children of value or at least were worthy of recognition: in other
all ages were recognised as worthy of mortuary ritual and words, children were also people. While all children
thus arguably recognised as individuals, people or at least received some form of mortuary treatment, by their
members of the community. In what is otherwise a second birthday it was necessary for all children to
relatively egalitarian community, differential mortuary receive some form of non-perishable material culture.
behaviour may be indicative of choice in individual This may be indicative of a special social and/or
mortuary treatment open to parents and/or carers of developmental milestone in childhood.
deceased children, in the sense of Hodder (1982, 186). As
long as certain conventions, perhaps burial in a certain In terms of gender, adult females and some children could
orientation and within a family cluster, were maintained share certain forms of material culture, especially shell.
relatives of dead children may have had considerable Whether this means that children were seen as having
flexibility in what was interred, if anything at all, with gender is difficult to determine. Some children may have
their young. received ‘female’ grave inclusions because they were
themselves female, or simply because they were not
perceived of as having gender and could thus be buried
CONCLUSIONS with a range of otherwise adult gender-specific material
culture. Perhaps more important is that some of the arte-
The aim of this paper was to explore aspects of how facts interred with children have economic connotations
children were perceived some 3500 years ago in northern and suggest that children had an economic role in the
Vietnam and also to examine facets of the health of these community. The case of the 8 or 9 year old shell child is
same children at Man Bac. also suggestive of both economic value and a further
social and/or developmental stage: it may well be that
Interpretations of the health of children at Man Bac must childhood finished rather early at Man Bac.
be tempered by the observation that we are looking at the
children that didn’t make it into adulthood. Presumably In summary, many of the non-surviving children of Man
those children that did survive into later life were Bac had demonstrably sub-optimal health prior to their
somewhat healthier than the ones that have left their eventual death. The high level of fertility suggests many
remains at an arrested period of development: death in children were alive in the community at any given time.
childhood. Nonetheless, it seems apparent that physiolo- Many of these children were likely economic and
gical insult manifesting as cribra orbitalia was a serious certainly social contributors to the community. Mortuary
health risk associated with childhood at all ages, while the treatment of children reflects the esteem in which they
lack of deciduous enamel hypoplasia perhaps indicates were held and also, in some cases, certain life stages
some forms of physiological insult were not occurring through which they passed.
until at least after the first year of life. One of the greatest,
specific, health risks was in the form of early childhood
caries. The aetiology of ECC is complex and the risk Acknowledgments
factors associated with this disease at Man Bac are un-
clear. However, in some individual cases extreme forms The authors would like to thank Sian Halcrow, University
of ECC and active cribra orbitalia no doubt contributed to of Otago, for providing comparative data on childhood
poor health, and perhaps even an early death. Many of the oral health in prehistoric Thailand. Part of this research
children of Man Bac seem to have experienced sub- was made possible by way of a Grant-in-Aid from the
optimal levels of well being. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No.
15405018), a Toyota Foundation Grant (D006-R-35), and
The large number of children at Man Bac has been a National Australian University FRGS (2004/5) Grant.
interpreted as suggesting high levels of fertility, which is
consistent with a community either transitioning into an
agricultural mode of subsistence or intensifying their References
agricultural base. The costs associated with caring for
the extra number of children alive at any given time in ARDREN, T., & S.R. HUTSON (eds.) 2006. The Social
this community was likely offset by the economic Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica.
contributions of these children. Further, it is likely that Boulder: University Press of Colorado.


BACUS, E.A. (in press). Expressing gender in Bronze DURAY, S.M. 1996. Dental indicators of stress and
Age northeast Thailand: The case of Non Nok Tha, in reduced age at death in prehistoric native Americans.
S. Hamilton, R. Whitehouse & K. Wright (eds.) American Journal of Physical Anthropology 99: 275-
Archaeology and Women. London: Institute of 286.
Archaeology, University College London Press. FEDERATION DENTAIRE INTERNATIONAL 1982.
BOCQUET-APPEL, J-P., & S. NAJI 2006. Testing the An epidemiological index of developmental defects of
hypothesis of a worldwide Neolithic demographic dental enamel (DDE Index). International Dental
transition, corroboration from American cemeteries. Journal 32/2: 159-167.
Current Anthropology 47/2: 341-365. GOODMAN, A.H., D.L. MARTIN, G.J. ARMELAGOS
BOGGESS, K.A., & B.L. EDELSTEIN 2006. Oral health & G. CLARK 1984. Indications of stress from bone
in women during preconception and pregnancy: and teeth, in M.N. Cohen & G.J. Armelagos (eds.)
implications for birth outcomes and infant oral health. Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture: 13-49.
Maternal and Child Health Journal 10 (Suppl. 7): Orlando: Academic Press.
169-174. GOODY, E.N. 1989. Learning, apprenticeship and the
BUIKSTRA, J.E., & D.H. UBELAKER (eds.) 1994. division of labor, in M.C. Coy (ed.) Apprenticeship:
Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal From Theory to Method and Back Again: 233-294.
Remains. Fayetteville, Arkansas: Arkansas Archaeo- Albany: SUNY Press.
logical Survey. GRIMM, L. 2000. Apprentice flintknapping: relating
CARR, C. 1995. Mortuary practices: Their social, material culture and social practice in the Upper
philosophical-religious, circumstantial and physical Palaeolithic, in J. Sofaer Derevenski (ed.) Children
determinants. Journal of Archaeological Method and and Material Culture: 53-71. London & New York:
Theory 2/2: 105-199. Routledge.
YAKE 1993. Initial acquisition of mutans streptococci Prehistoric Investigations in Northeast Thailand, 1.
by infants: evidence for a discrete window of infec- Oxford: B.A.R. International Series 231.
tivity. Journal of Dental Research 72: 37-45. HIGHAM, C.F.W. & R. THOSARAT (eds.) 1998. The
CHAMBERLAIN, A. 2006. Demography in Archaeo- Excavation of Nong Nor: A Prehistoric Site in Central
logy. Cambridge: University Press. Thailand. Dunedin: Otago University Studies in
COHEN, M.N. & G.F. ARMELAGOS (eds.) 1984. Prehistoric Anthropology 18.
Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture. HIGHAM, C.F.W. & R. THOSARAT (eds.) 2004. The
Orlando: Academic Press. Excavation of Khok Phanom Di: A Prehistoric Site in
CRAWFORD, S. 1991. When do Anglo-Saxon children Central Thailand, Volume VII: Summary and Con-
count? Journal of Theoretical Archaeology 2: 17- clusions. London: The Society of Antiquaries.
24. HILLSON, S. 2001. Recording dental caries in
CRAWFORD, S. 2000. Children, grave goods and social archaeological remains. International Journal of
status in Early Anglo-Saxon England, in J. Sofaer Osteoarchaeology 11: 249-289.
Derevenski (ed.) Children and Material Culture: 169- HODDER, I. 1982. Symbols in Action. Cambridge:
179. London & New York: Routledge. University Press.
DENNISON, B.A. 1996. Fruit juice consumption by HUFFER, D. 2005. Social Organization at the Neolithic/
infants and children: a review. Journal of the Ame- Bronze Age Boundary in North Vietnam: Man Bac
rican College of Nutrition 15 (Suppl. 5): 4-11. Cemetery as a Case Study. Unpublished MA Thesis,
DOMETT, K. 2001. Health in Late Prehistoric Thailand. School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian
Archaeopress: B.A.R. International Series 946. National University.

DOMETT, K. & N. TAYLES 2006. Human biology and JACKES, M. 1992. Paleodemography: Problems and
the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the Mun River techniques, in S.R. Saunders & M.A. Katzenberg
valley of northeast Thailand., in M. Oxenham & N. (eds.) Skeletal Biology of Past Peoples: Research
Tayles (eds.) Bioarchaeology of Southeast Asia: 220- Methods: 189-224. New York: Wiley Liss.
240. Cambridge: University Press. KAMP, K.A. 2001. Where have all the children gone?:
DUNG, N.K. 2005. Preliminary report on the Vietna- The archaeology of childhood. Journal of Archaeo-
mese-Japanese-Australian archaeological excavation logical Method and Theory 8/1: 1-34.
at Man Bac site, in H. Matsumura (ed.) Anthro- KELLEY, M.A., D.P. LEVESQUE & E. WEIDL 1991.
pological and Archaeological Study on the Origin of Contrasting patterns of dental disease in five early
Neolithic People in Mainland Southeast Asia: (Un- northern Chilean groups, in M.A. Kelley & C.S.
published) Report of Grant-in-Aid for International Larsen (eds.) Advances in Dental Anthropology: 203-
Research (2003-2005 No. 15405018): 88-128. 213. New York: Wiley Liss.


LARSEN, C.S., R. SHAVIT & M.C. GRIFFIN 1991. PERRY, M. 1980. Medicinal Plants of East and South-
Dental caries evidence for dietary change: an east Asia: Attributed Properties and Uses. Cambridge:
archaeological context, in M.A. Kelley & C.S. Larsen The MIT Press.
(eds.) Advances in Dental Anthropology: 179-202. PIETRUSEWSKY, M. & M.T. DOUGLAS 2002. Ban
New York: Wiley Liss. Chiang, a Prehistoric Village Site in Northeast
LEVERETT, D.H. 1982. Fluorides and the changing Thailand, I: the Human Skeletal Remains. Phila-
prevalence of dental caries. Science 217: 26-30. delphia: The University of Philadelphia.
LILLEHAMMER, G. 2000. The world of children, in J. POWELL, M.L. 1985. The analysis of dental wear and
Sofaer Derevenski (ed.) Children and Material caries for dietary reconstruction, in R.I. Gilbert & J.H.
Culture: 17-26. London & New York: Routledge. Mielke (eds.) The Analysis of Prehistoric Diets: 301-
LITTLETON, J. & B. FROHLICH 1993. Fish-eaters and 338. Orlando: Academic Press.
farmers: dental pathology in the Arabian Gulf. Ame- RIBEIRO, N.M.E. & M.A.S. RIBEIRO 2004. Breast-
rican Journal of Physical Anthropology 92: 427-447. feeding and early childhood caries: a critical review.
MILGROM, P., C.A. RIEDY, P. WEINSTEIN, A.C.R. Journal de Pediatria 80/5: 199-210.
TANNER, L. MANIBUSAN & J. BRUSS 2000. SAWADA, J. & VU THE LONG 2005. Animal remains
Dental caries and its relationship to bacterial infection, from the late Neolithic Man Bac site, in H. Matsumura
hypoplasia, diet and oral hygiene in 6-to-36-month- (ed.) Anthropological and Archaeological Study on
old children. Community Dentistry and Oral the Origin of Neolithic People in Mainland Southeast
Epidemiology 28: 295-306. Asia: (Unpublished) Report of Grant-in-Aid for
MILNES, A.R. 1996. Description and epidemiology of International Research (2003-2005 No. 15405018):
nursing caries. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 351-353.
56/1: 38-50. SCHEUR, L. & S. BLACK 2000. Developmental
NGUYEN, K.S., M.H. PHAM & T.T. TONG 2004. Juvenile Osteology. San Diego: Academic Press.
Northern Vietnam from the Neolithic to the Han SCRIMSHAW, S.C.M. 1984. Infanticide in human
Period, in I. Glover & P. Bellwood (eds.) Southeast populations: Societal and individual concerns, in G.
Asia from Prehistory to History: 177-201. London & Hausfater & S.B. Hrdy (eds.) Infanticide: Compa-
New York: Routledge. rative and Evolutionary Perspectives: 439-462. New
ORTNER, D.J., E.H. KIMMERLE & M. DIEZ 1999. York: Aldine.
Probable evidence of scurvy in subadults from SEALY, J.C., M.K. PATRICK, A.G. MORRIS & D.
archeological sites in Peru. American Journal of ALDER 1992. Diet and dental caries among later
Physical Anthropology 108: 321-331. Stone Age inhabitants of the Cape Province, South
OXENHAM, M.F., C. LOCHER, L.C. NGUYEN & K.T. Africa. American Journal of Physical Anthropology
NGUYEN 2002. Identification of Areca catechu (betel 88: 123-134.
nut) residues on the dentitions of Bronze Age SEOW, W.K. 1998. Biological mechanisms of early
inhabitants of Nui Nap, northern Vietnam. The childhood caries. Community Dentistry and Oral
Journal of Archaeological Science 29/9: 909-915. Epidemiology 26 (Suppl. 1): 8-27.
OXENHAM, M.F. & N. TAYLES (eds.) 2006. Bio- SLAVKIN, H.C. 1999. Streptococcus Mutans, early
archaeology of Southeast Asia. Cambridge: University childhood caries and new opportunities. Journal of the
Press. American Dental Association 130: 1787-1792.
2005. Skeletal evidence for the emergence of shock: Confronting expectations in the material
infectious disease in bronze and iron age northern culture of children, in J. Sofaer Derevenski (ed.)
Vietnam. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Children and Material Culture: 3-16. London & New
126/4: 359-376. York: Routledge.
OXENHAM, M.F., L.C. NGUYEN & K.T. NGUYEN SOFAER DEREVENSKI, J. (ed.) 2000. Children and
2006. The oral health consequences of the adoption Material Culture. London & New York: Routledge.
and intensification of agriculture in Southeast Asia, in STUART-MACADAM, P.L. 1985. Porotic hyperostosis:
M. Oxenham & N. Tayles (eds.) Bioarchaeology of representative of a childhood condition. American
Southeast Asia: 263-289. Cambridge: University Journal of Physical Anthropology 6: 391-398.
TAINTER, J.A. 1978. Mortuary practices and the study of
OXENHAM, M.F. 2006. Biological responses to change prehistoric social systems. Advances in Archaeo-
in prehistoric Vietnam. Asian Perspectives 45/2: 212- logical Method and Theory 1: 105-141.
TALBOT, S. 2002. From the Iron Age to Angkor in
PARKER PEARSON, M. 1999. The Archaeology of Northeast Thailand. Unpublished PhD thesis.
Death and Burial. Phoenix Mill: Sutton Publishing. Dunedin: University of Otago.


TAYLES, N. 1999. The excavation of Khok Phanom Di: in children aged 6-19 months. Community Dentistry
a prehistoric site in Central Thailand. Volume IV: the and Oral Epidemiology 32: 133-142.
people. London: The Society of Antiquaries. WAPLER, U., E. CRUBÉZY, M. SCHULTZ 2004. Is
THORILD, I., B. LINDAU-JOHNSON & S. TWETMEN cribra orbitalia synonymous with anemia? Analysis
2002. Prevalence of salivary Streptococcus mutans in and interpretation of cranial pathology in Sudan. Ame-
mothers and in their preschool children. International rican Journal of Physical Anthropology 123: 333-339.
Journal of Paediatric Dentistry 12: 2-7. WEBB, S. 1995. Palaeopathology of Aboriginal Austra-
TRINH HOANG HIEP 2004. Di tich Man Bac va moi lians: Health and Disease Across a Hunter-Gatherer
quan he cua no voi cac di tich tien Dong S’on o Dong Continent. Cambridge: University Press.
Bang Song Hong. Unpublished MA thesis. Hanoi: WHITE, T.D. 2000. Human Osteology. San Diego: Aca-
University of Vietnam. demic Press.
VAN PALENSTEIN HILDERMAN, W.H., W. SOE & WILEMAN, J. 2005. Hide and Seek: The Archaeology of
M.A. VAN HOF 2006. Risk factors of early childhood Childhood. The Mill, Brimscombe Port: Tempus.
caries in a Southeast Asian population. Journal of
WILLIAMSON, L. 1978. Infanticide: An anthropological
Dental Research 85/1: 85-88. analysis, in M. Kohl (ed.) Infanticide and the Value of
VACHIRAROJPISAN, T., K. SHINADA, Y. KAWA- Life: 61-75. Buffalo: Prometheus.
GUCHI, P. LAUNGWECHAKAN, T. SOMKOTE & ZELLER, A.C. 1987. A role for women in hominid
P. DETSOMBOONRAT 2004. Early childhood caries evolution. Man 22/3: 528-557.

Archaeological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow,

Abstract: The prehistoric tradition of burying infants within the settlements is well known from the wide territory of Mesopotamia,
Anatolia and southeast Europe. In the Balkans, this phenomenon has been known as early as the Neolithic; it has been also found in
Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age contexts. The early Bronze Age layers at Tell Yunatsite in Bulgarian Thrace have yielded a total
of 26 infant burials, all of them within the settlement’s area. The burial rite follows two patterns: jar burials (22), and pit burials (4
burials). They are considered according to a number of criteria: location within the settlement, association of the burials with
certain part of the house, their relation to the features of the house interior, burial construction, and age details.
Keywords: burial patterns, Early Bronze Age, Bulgarian Thrace

Résumé: La tradition préhistorique d’enterrer des enfants dans les territoires des sites est bien connue au territoire vaste de
Messopotamie, Anatolie et Europe de sud-est. Aux Balkans, ce phénomène est connu dès le periode Néolithique; on l’a aussi trouvé
aux contextes chalcolithiques et du Bronze ancient. Les couches du Bronze ancient a Tell Yunatsite en Thrace bulgare ont revelées
26 sépultures d’enfants et tous sont au territoire du site. Le ritual d’enterrement avait deux moyens differents: enterrement en vase
(22) ou enterrement dans la cavitée d'un tombe. Les sépultures ont été analyzés selon les indices plusieurs: location au territoire du
site, l’association avec une certaine partie de la maison, les relations avec certain attributes d'intérieur de la maison, construction et
Mots Clefs: rites funéraire, Bronze ancien, Thrace bulgare

The tradition of burying infants within the settlement area limited information one can find in the recent publication
and often in the houses is a steady phenomenon, (Kalčev 2002).
practically spread over universally. It was preserved for a
very long time. In the Balkans, it is known from the All the above-mentioned sites are situated in Central
Neolithic, and then was widely spread in the Chalcolithic Thrace, east of Yunatsite, and are encompassed in the
and Early Bronze Age. Intramural burials are rather Ezero culture area. Unfortunately, it is difficult to use
common for the Early Bronze Age (EBA) sites in Thrace. them for a detailed comparative analysis, since the
Besides at Tell Yunatsite (Ivantchik 1994; Katincharov & available data are insufficient. This is especially true
Matsanova 1993; Mishina 2005), they are known from a when speaking of burial pits because they have very
number of sites: Ezero, Nova Zagora (both burials of rarely been established. This situation is mirrored by the
adults and infants), Karanovo, Dyadovo, Galabovo, recent compendium on the EBA burials from Bulgaria
Ognyanovo (Detev & Matsanova 1977, 52f; Georgiev et published by M. Menkova (2003, 136).
al. 1979, 491ff; Katincharov et al. 1985, 68; Katincharov
1987, 63ff; Panayotov 1991, 34f; Nikolov et al. 2002, In this paper, the author will consider the infant burials
24ff; Kancheva-Russeva 2000, 31ff), between others. yielded by the EBA layers at Tell Yunatsite in Bulgarian
However, the rite of burying infants within the settlement
territory has not been yet unanimously explained. It seems Balkan tells are characterized by more or less clearly cut
as if such interpretations can hardly be suggested at all. It stratigraphic sequences, which is very important for
is also possible that these burials represent ‘foundation stratigraphic reconstructions. At Tell Yunatsite, cultural
offerings’ (Katincharov 1979). As a rule, children were deposits of the Chalcolithic, Early Bronze and Early Iron
buried when the houses have still been used. Such burials Age were revealed. The EBA horizons overlay the layer
have also been explained with the ‘dead cult” (Bibikov of buried soil and the Chalcolithic deposits, and are
1953). The ‘dead cult’, however, more likely suggests a overlaid by the layer of the Iron Age (Fig. 15.1).
relation of the living community members to their adult
dead but not to infants. These burials have also been Within the Yunatsite culture area (the western part of
explained with the fertility cult (Antonova 1990, 106f). Bulgarian Thrace), the eponymous site at Yunatsite is so
Alternatively, it was suggested not to interpret them as far the only one where such a numerous sample of
burial contexts at all (Boyadzhiev 2001, 22). intramural burials was excavated. They could be divided
into two unequal groups. Only two adult burials have
Only one cemetery simultaneous with these EBA been found (Mishina 2002), while the cultural deposits of
intramural burials was excavated, near Tell Bereketska Tell Yunatsite yielded a total of twenty-eight infant
yielding a total of seventy four burials. This site was burials. Twenty-six of them are considered here because
investigated long ago, which is the reason for the rather their stratigraphic position is reliable enough. For the time


Fig. 15.1. Horizontally compressed scheme of the central cross-section

being, this sample of infant burials is the most numerous the same. It varies from three to five burials per horizon.
in Bulgaria. Burials were not found in all excavated houses. Of forty-
seven investigated houses, seventeen yielded burials
All infant burials – coming from the EBA horizons from (somewhat over one third). On the other hand, one house
XVI/XVII to X – are analyzed according to a number of could contain several burials (Fig. 15.3).
criteria, taking into account the stratigraphic data (Fig.
15.2). Spatial distribution of intramural burials at archaeological
sites has long ago become a research subject. Different
No infant burials were found in horizon IX and further criteria have been used to find a relation between the sex
upward. At Tell Yunatsite, this is an important, most and age of the dead, on the one hand, and their location
probably, transitional phase from EBA II to EBA III within the site, on the other hand (Binford 1968;
(according to the Bulgarian chronology). All infant graves Antonova 1990, 86-89, 104-110; Bacvarov 2003, 111).
have been attributed to EBA I and II, respectively. We When discussing this aspect we should take into account
cannot rule out the fortuity of this situation because at the spatial structure of Tell Yunatsite, with the houses
some sites in Thrace, infant burials have been also found forming a curve. The spatial structure of all horizons up to
in the EBA III layers (Tell Karanovo). horizon IX is similar. The latitudinal or longitudinal
orientation was not relevant when discussing burials’
Generally speaking, the pattern of infant burials’ distribution; only the reference points related to the house
distribution by horizons from XVI/XVII to X seems interior have been taken into account.
constant and steady. This fact points to certain stability of
life at the EBA settlements; possibly, the population did In order to establish which sections of the house have
not suffer from mass diseases and epidemics. The number mainly been used for burials, house interior was divided
of infant burials in the horizons of different dates is not into several zones:


Fig. 15.2. Distribution of infant burials by horizons

Fig. 15.3. Houses with/without infant burials by horizons

Near the short wall 9 burials concerning the spatial distribution of infant burials (Fig.
Near the long wall 7 burials
15.4); therefore, infants did not have a central status in
family/community, but nevertheless they held a very
Near the partition wall 2 burials important place.
In the corner 5 burials
In the central part of the house 1 burial At first it seems that no specific features could be found
in the spatial distribution of burials within houses, as for
some ritual details such as burying infants in vessels – jar
No relation with the stratigraphy has been revealed: burials – or just in pits. Still, some characteristics may be
burials were located near the long walls of the houses in pointed out. First, the only burial in the central part of the
all horizons where they have been found. It was house was deposited in a pit. Second, almost all pit
established that the graves have mostly been arranged in burials (three of four) were overlaid by house floors.
the peripheral sections of the house: near the walls and in Third, the jar burials were located near the house walls
the corners. Obviously no strict regulations existed only.


Fig. 15.4. Location of burials in the houses

Fig. 15.5. Houses with double burials

In the most cases of a burial cluster in one house, the are situated at some distance from each other; certain
spatial distribution shows that the burials were not opposite symmetry could be found in their spatial
simultaneous. This is completely clear because the burials distribution (Fig. 15.5). These ‘symmetrically arranged’


burials were placed near the long wall of the house close
to each other or at a distance but on the same line. They
also could have been deposited near the same long or
short wall, near the opposite short walls or rather far from
the long wall, approximately parallel to the burials.

No superimposed burials attributed to the same horizon

have been discovered. It means that the inhabitants of this
house knew of the earlier burials. At the same time, infant
burials were often disturbed by the post-holes of later ho-
uses belonging to upper horizons/settlements. Obviously,
the memory about the burials’ location was preserved
during the life-cycle of one settlement, i.e. during the life-
time of one generation of its inhabitants only.

The most of the burials had no surface indications. There

are eleven such cases. Five burials were found under
houses, four of them near or under the oven (Fig. 15.6).
Noteworthy, as late as the end of nineteenth century in
south Europe, infants were often buried near the ovens.
An infant was considered “socially inferior and related to
its mother only. This relation was preserved in the Fig. 15.7. Burial # 17, with surface marking
afterlife as well. Even in the nineteenth century, the
southern Slavs practiced infant burials not in coffins but
in vessels, which symbolized mother’s womb” (Lozakova
1989, 27f).

Fig. 15.6. Burial # 13, near the oven

Fig. 15.8. Burial # 25

Five burials had got surface marks. These were as
follows: two flat stones placed over the grave (1); an area
covered with small pebbles (2); an enclosure built of established between the age of the dead and the type of
seven posts and two big flat stones (1); an area separated burial context. The orientation of the dead varied; most
from the house interior (Fig. 15.7). A wide set of surface probably, it was determined by the location of the burial
marks were used to indicate burials within the house; their within the house. The position of the infants buried in pits
character was probably determined by various factors but was various as far as the house interior is concerned.
it is clear that special attention has been paid to the burial Thus, one infant was buried with its head aligned to the
location. house wall, and the rest were buried along the long axis of
the house. This group comprised one infant buried in the
Infants were buried in pits or in vessels deposited in pits. central part of the house, and two more by the walls. The
Four burials were performed in pits, without vessels (Fig. latter were in various positions with regard to the
15.8). Pits were used for burials both of infants under 1 wall: one with its face and the other with its back turned
year of age and somewhat older. No connection was to it.


Fig. 15.9. Burial # 41, slanting pit

Fig. 15.10. Burial # 45, slanting pit


Fig. 15.11. Types of burial vessels

Another group, rather numerous (22), includes jar burials the “special types of coffin-vessels used for infant
in pits. Six jar burials were performed in oval pits, and burials”. Bulgarian ethnographer Lozakova argued that
only one in a rectangular pit. Two pits have not been dug burials of the discussed type had been practiced in the
vertically but with certain obliquity (Figs. 15.9 and Balkans until the late nineteenth century. Such vessels
15.10). symbolized mother’s womb. In this sense, the usage of
vessels was evidently related to the idea that the infant,
At Tell Yunatsite, no special vessels were produced for who had not passed the first stage of initiation, was
burials (Fig. 15.11). For this purpose, various types of regarded as unborn yet, and as such closely related to the
vessels were used: jugs, bowls, pots with or without lugs, mother. Burial rite brought it back to its origins (Van
or even bottom parts of broken vessels. Among these, Gennep 1960).
jugs clearly dominated (10), and were in use from horizon
XVI/XVII till X. Pots were used more rarely (5) during The data available on the burial vessels’ context at Tell
the same period. Single infants were buried in amphora- Yunatsite has also been considered. In most cases, the
like vessels, and in bowls (Fig. 15.12). All these types are spatial distribution of burials in jugs and pots is identical.
represented in the household ceramic assemblage of Tell Single burials in bowl or amphora have parallels in the
Yunatsite. Some burial vessels were supplied with lids more numerous groups. As for the burials outside of the
(Fig. 15.8). Those were found in six cases when jugs had houses (in the ‘yards’), the dead were deposited in pots or
been used for containers. Bowls or big potsherds were in a vessel of unclear shape. Thus, it may be argued, that
used as lids (Figs. 15.11 and 15.13). Besides, the field no correlation existed between the type of the vessel used
logs suggest that not all of the vessels were discovered as burial container, and the burial’s location within the
full of soil. This fact may point to non-preserved lids, first house.
of all made of some other, most likely, organic material.
In this sense I should also stress on the variability of Nineteen jar burials represented single burials of infants.
mortuary practices. For the first time in this sample, three burials contained
the bones of two babies.
No special shapes of burial vessels existed; it was the size
of the container that mattered. All the above-mentioned The infants’ position in the vessels could rarely be esta-
vessels were of big size. Certain authors have pointed to blished. As a rule, skulls were discovered on the top of


Fig. 15.12. Burial # 10, in a bowl with a lid

the heap of other bones uncovered in disorder on the depended on their age and the shape of the vessel; it was
bottom or at the vessel’s side. This position is typical of also important to imitate the position of an embryo.
jugs and high pots used as containers, and could
conventionally be termed as ‘contracted/sitting’. Most No reliable data exists on the presence of grave goods in
probably, the infants were put in high vessels their feet the jar burials. As with the infant burials in pits, single
down, in contracted position similar to that of an embryo artifacts recovered from burial vessels could have been
(with contracted legs, and arms bent in the elbows). accidental; for instance, two flint blade fragments in
burial # 45. Equally arbitrary is the attribution of several
The only burial in a bowl covered with another bowl beads found close to the disturbed burial # 8. It is
belonged to an infant six months old (burial # 10). The noteworthy that the infant jar burials from the tells at
body was laid on its side in strongly contracted position, Ezero, Dyadovo and Galabovo as well as from the sites at
which was determined by the necessity to put it in the Nova Zagora and Ognyanovo did not contain grave
bottom of the bowl. Obviously, position of the dead goods.


although its many aspects remain unclear because of

numerous information gaps. Like many other sites, all
infant burials at Tell Yunatsite were performed within the
settlement area, mainly in the houses. Within the houses,
burial vessels were disposed in secluded places, not to be
disturbed. Various types of ordinary vessels were used as
burial containers, mostly jugs and pots. One cannot rule
out that the choice of vessel type was determined by the
dead infants’ sex. Vessels were sealed with lids. No grave
goods were given to the infants.

The separate position occupied by infant burials in

Fig. 15.13. Typological distribution of burial vessels
general burial practices is a specific ritual phenomenon,
which may be extrapolated to all archaic farming
Of special interest is the fact that these burial phenomena societies. It emerged in these cultures, coexisted with
coexisted for centuries with the universally spread various systems of world-outlook and corresponding
Christian ritual standards. And this is only a particular forms of burial rite; in traditional farming societies, it has
case, a detail of a general picture, since infant jar burials survived till now. In certain regions, this rite sporadically
deposited under house floors were practiced for millennia manifested itself among Christian population, which
parallel to various models of burial rites performed for obviously should be regarded as an archaic element of the
other age groups. They appeared in the early farming sites traditional culture. The ubiquitous presence of the
of the Near East. discussed phenomenon in human culture points to the
fundamental nature of this archetype. That is why
intramural infant burials must be regarded separately from
CONCLUSIONS the burials of other age groups characterized by changing
burial rite reflecting transformations in their world-
From this consideration it becomes clear that, on the one outlook. The burial rites performed for infants, who had
hand, the intramural infant burials from Tell Yunatsite not received certain social status, remained unchanged for
form a group with variable burial rites. Burials were millennia. No doubt, different cultural traditions had some
performed both in pits and jars; the positions of the dead specific ritual details. To bring them to light, however,
varied; various types of ordinary vessels were used as new research is necessary.
burial containers; the location for burial in the house was
not strictly regulated. Jar burials are considered as an
exception from the general burial practice of the time References
known from a number of sites. (Thus, at the simultaneous
cemetery at Tell Bereketska, seventy-two burials of adults ANTONOVA, E.V. 1990. Обряды и верования перво-
have been excavated; they demonstrate absolutely бытных земледельцев Востока. Москва: Наука.
standard and steady burial rite, which included standard BACVAROV, K. 2003. Неолитни погребални обреди:
orientation and position of the dead (contracted on their Интрамурални гробове от българските земи в
sides); all burials contained fixed set of grave goods.) контекста на Югоизточна Европа и Анатолия.
София: Бард.
BIBIKOV, S.N. 1953. Раннетрипольское поселение
These considerations seem to be true exactly of infant
burials, which should be interpreted separately from the
Лука-Врублевецкая на Днестре: К истории ранних
other age groups, as it was already demonstrated. The age
group under discussion (infants and children under земледельческо-скотоводческих племен на юго-
eighteen months) held special social status. Actually, it востоке Европы. (Материалы и исследования по
археологии СССР 38) Москва: Академия наук
was a status of non-persons, which well corresponds to
the view formulated by Leach (1976). Infants had not yet
passed the ‘separation/socialization rite’, and therefore for BINFORD, S. R. 1968. A Structural Comparison of
certain period they were perceived as ‘socially inferior’ Disposal of the Dead in the Mousterian and the Upper
individuals, having not passed the first rite of passage, as Paleolithic. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 24:
Van Gennep argued. The burial of an infant, who had not 139-153.
achieved the first stage of initiation, was probably con- BOYADZHIEV, Y. 2001. Погребалната практика intra
sidered a private business of its mother (relatives/family). muros през неолита и халколита в българските
These persons performed the traditional rite aimed at pro- земи: обичай или изключение. Археология 3-4: 16-
viding new births, which is clear from the vessel’s symbo- 22.
lism of a womb, and the embryo-like position of the dead.
DETEV, P. & V. MATSANOVA. 1977. Праистори-
ческото селище при с. Огняново. Известия на
On the other hand, the jar burials from Tell Yunatsite
evidence of certain regulation of the burial practice, музеите от Южна България 3: 45-86.


GEORGIEV, G.I., N.Y. MERPERT, R. KATINCHA- MENKOVA, M. 2003. Погребални обреди на

ROV & D. DIMITROV. 1979. Езеро: Раннобронзо- носителите на местните раннобронзови култури в
вото селище. София: Българска академия на български земи, in Д. Димитрова (съст.) Пътят.
науките. Сборник научни статии, посветен на живота и
IVANTCHIK, A. 1994. Die Grabriten auf dem Tell творчеството на д-р Георги Китов: 132-137.
Yunacite (Westbulgarien) und das Problem der Indo- София: Гео Прес.
germanisierung des Balkans. Thetis 1: 17-22. MISHINA, T.N. 2002. Два раннебронзовых погребения
KALČEV P. 2002 Das Frühbronzezeitliche Gräberfeld телля „Плоская могила” во Фракии, in Р.М.
von Stara Zagora “Bereketska Mogila” (Bulgarien). Мунчаев (ред.) Проблемы археологии Евразии: К
(Sastuma 8) Bonn: Habelt. 80-летию Н. Я. Мерперта: 230-238. Москва:
Институт археологии Российской академии наук.
KANCHEVA-RUSSEVA, T. 2000. Гробове от бронзо-
вата епоха в праисторическо селище в Нова MISHINA, T.N. 2005. Социальный аспект изучения
Загора. Археология
3-4: 31-34. интрамуральных детских погребений (по
материалам эпохи ранней бронзы Телля Юнаците,
KATINCHAROV, R., R. GEORGIEVA & B. Балканы), in В.И. Гуляев (ред.) Теоретические и
BORISSOV. 1985. Разкопки на селищната могила методические подходы к изучению погребального
до с. Дядово, Сливенски окръг, in Археологически обряда в современной археологии: Тезисы
открития и разкопки през 1984 г.: 68. Сливен: докладов всероссийской научной конференции:
Археологически институт с музей. 27. Москва: Институт археологии Российской
KATINCHAROV, R. & V. MATSANOVA 1993. академии наук.
Разкопки на селищната могила при с. Юнаците, in NIKOLOV, V., S. HILLER & T. KANCHEVA. 2002.
В. Николов (ред.) Праисторически находки и Българо-австрийска експедиция на тел Караново,
изследвания. Сборник в памет на проф. Г. Ил. in Археологически открития и разкопки за 2001 г.:
Георгиев: 155-173. София: Археологически инсти- 13-14. София: Археологически институт с музей.
тут с музей.
PANAYOTOV, I. 1991. Ранна и Средна Бронзова
LEACH, E.R. 1976. Culture and communication. Cam- епоха в Горнотракийската низина: Нови проблеми,
bridge: University Press. in Б. Борисов (ред.) Марица-Изток. Археологи-
LOZAKOVA, G. 1989. Особености на обредите при чески проучвания 1: 33-39. София: Археологи-
погребение на деца у южните славяни в края XIX чески музей „Марица-Изток”, Раднево.
и в началото на XX в. Българска етнография 14/1: VAN GENNEP, A. 1960. The Rites of Passage. London:
24-30. Routledge.

Archaeological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow,

Abstract: This paper considers the individual and collective burials of the East Manych catacomb culture dating back to the second
half of the third millennium BC (the Middle Bronze Age). 440 individual and 60 collective burials were analyzed, the major part of
these being dug in kurgans of the earlier Pit Grave, North-Caucasian or Early Catacomb cultures. Using the categories of infants,
children, pre-adults and adults, four groups each of individual and collective burials were created.
Key words: Catacomb culture, East Manych, pre-adult burials, adult burials, infanticide

Résume: Cet article considère les sépultures individuelles et collectives de la culture des sépultures à catacombes de Manych-Est
remontant à la deuxième moitié du troisième millénium avant J.-C. (l’âge de bronze moyen). 440 sépultures individuels et 60
collectifs ont été analysés, la plupart de ces dernières étant creusées dans les kurgans des cultures précédentes de Yamnaya, Nord-
Caucasienne ou Pré-Catacombes. En utilisant les catégories d’enfants en bas âge, d’enfants, de pré-adultes et d’adultes, quatre
groupes, chaqun d’enterrements individuels et collectifs, ont été créés.
Mots Clefs: Culture des sépultures à catacombes, Manych-Est, sépultures de pré-adultes et d’adultes, infanticide


The archaeological cultures in the steppe and forest- The database compiled for investigation of general ritual
steppe zone of Eastern Europe in the Bronze Age are characteristics includes 581 East Manych burial assembla-
known mainly because of the research on materials from ges (459 individual burials, 65 collective burials and 57
kurgan (barrow) cemeteries containing individual and cenotaphs) coming from 248 barrows at 27 sites. All
collective burials of all ages and both sexes. Unfortuna- assemblages from these sites referred to as East Manych
tely, the large-scale kurgan excavations carried out in were included in the database.
1970s and 1980s, which yielded thousands of Bronze Age
burials, rarely included qualified bioarchaeological The major part of these assemblages was dug in kurgans
research. Recent investigations gradually fill in this gap. of the earlier Pit Grave, North-Caucasian or Early Cata-
Using accumulated archive data, however, archaeologists comb cultures. The density of East Manych assemblages
often have to work with approximate age determinations in kurgans is not high; it averaged to 2.6 burials per
and rarely can be quite sure about the sex of the buried kurgan (from 1 to 12). The burials were made in various
individuals. directions from the center, mostly in the eastern side of
the barrow. The low density and the diversity of age-and-
The starting points for a reconstruction of the social sex combinations of the deceased in the same kurgan as
relations according to cemetery evidence are as follows: well as the variability of kurgan plans do not give us any
chance to associate any kurgan with certain family group.
– All common cemeteries (where rest the skeletal remains
of all social groups of the respective society) of The burial structures were dug in the sub-soil or in the
traditional societies were family based; mound itself. Two structure types, catacombs and pits,
– Steppe kurgans in the Eneolithic and Bronze Age were were used simultaneously. The deceased were buried on
not only cemeteries but also ancestor sanctuaries as the left side, in a contracted position, with their heads to
well as territory markers of clan/lineage pasture the south. The burial chambers contained handmade
grounds that claimed them as “ancestors’ lands”; pottery and incense-cups, bronze knives, awls and in a
number of cases, stone tools (pestles and anvils). Rare and
– Deposing of several bodies in one grave can be prestigious things were represented by wooden wagons,
regarded as representation of close family relations. bronze hooks, adzes and axe-adzes, stone axes and mace
heads, personal adornments as bronze and gold temporal
This paper considers the individual and collective burials rings, beads and pendants made of various materials,
of the East Manych catacomb culture (the name is derived mainly of glass, bronze and bone.
from the River Manych, left tributary of the Lower Don,
important river way of the steppe region north of the This research is based on 440 individual and 60 collective
Caucasus). Burial sites of this culture, left by nomadic burials1.
pastoral tribes, are found in the steppes of Kalmykia and 1
Stavropol krai; according to the series of calibrated The general selection contains 19 individual burials with unspecified
age; for 5 collective burials, the contemporaneity of the skeletal remains
radiocarbon dates, they date back to the second half of the disposed of in one burial structure but in different chambers, or in a
third millennium BC. chamber and entrance shaft of the same catacomb, cannot be proved.


Fig. 16.1. Individual burials: 1 Chograi – VIII, к.30 b.9; 2 Chograi – II, к.10 b.3; 3 Veselaya Rosha – III, к.15 b.9;
4 Chograi – VIII, к.30 b.2; 5 Zunda Tolga к.1 b.1; 6 Chograi – IX, к.9 b.4; 7 Arharinsky к.28, b.5

The age of only 81 of 440 skeletons (18.4%), coming the rest, the archaeologists who had excavated them,
from individual burials, and 15 skeletons of a total of 127 determined their age using such terms as baby, child, pre-
(11.8%), coming from collective burials, was determined adult, juvenile or adult. I had to use the generalized
(mostly by the bioarchaeologist G.P. Romanova). As for determinations of both archaeologists and bioarchaeolo-


gists. This is stressed by the commonly accepted terms young children only; see Korobov 2003, 165f). Such a
used in this paper: infant, 0-2 years; child, 3-7 years; pre- natural socio-biological border could have coincided with
adult, 8-15 years, adult, older than 15 years. When the end of breast feeding. This moment is known to be
possible, more accurate data are used2. celebrated by special rituals (feasts) in many traditional
societies, especially those related with the pastoralist
economy. Also, the discussed border could coincide with
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION the moment when a child is able to walk independently.

I. Individual burials (Fig. 16.1) As far as children (selection II) are concerned, the small
size of this group makes us assume that only a part of
According to these categories, four groups (selections I- them was buried in the kurgans individually. To make this
IV) of individual burials were created (Table 16.1, situation clear, it would perhaps be necessary to consider
Diagram 1). the child sex determination in particular.

The infant and child burials are distinguished from the

Table 16.1. Individual burials age selections pre-adult and adult ones by some particular features:

Selection Age Number % 1. Individual infant/child burials never occupied central

position in a kurgan. These graves are usually smaller
I infant 11 2.5%
than pre-adult/adult graves, according to the bodies’
II child 42 9.5% size.
III pre-adult 52 11.8%
2. As a rule, infant/child burials were not the only burials
IV adult 335 76.1% in a barrow. Deposition of infants and children was
Total: 440 100.0% therefore regulated by the presence of a burial of senior
person who can be termed “a child’s guide” (to
designate this specific function we use the original
meaning of the Greek word pedagogue). This child’s
guide could have been buried in the same burial
Infants structure together with the guided child or in a separate
structure1 but in the same barrow. The role of a child’s
guide most often was played by a bearer of the East
Individual Manych cultural tradition, but it could have been
played also by a representative of an earlier cultural
Pre-adults phase, if accompanied by children graves of the same
Adults 3. On rare occasions, a special cemetery of 2 to 5 burials
of children and/or pre-adults was created in the barrow.
0,0% 20,0% 40,0% 60,0% 80,0% It could have belonged entirely to the East Manych
culture or it could have been a multicultural unit,
comprising burials of different chrono-cultural phases.
Diagram 1. Age groups ratios in individual (440
individuals) and collective (127 individuals) burials 4. The grave goods also vary; infant and child remains
were accompanied mainly by pottery vessels and in-
cense-cups. Bronze tools and prestigious things appear
only in some pre-adult and adult burials (Table 16.2).
The first thing to mention is that individual infant burials
are practically absent while children are poorly repre-
So, the dependent status and stressed identity of mortuary
sented. Even taking into account both poor state of
ritual of the younger age groups seem obvious.
preservation of young children and inadequate excavation
techniques, this difference is too large to be considered
accidental. Besides, it is noteworthy that infant mortality II. Collective burials (Figs. 16.2-5)3
rate must have been much higher than it is demonstrated
by individual burials. Obviously “standard” burial prac- The bulk of double burials and all of the graves conta-
tices required no deposition of infants in the kurgan until ining larger number of deceased (over a half of all burials)
they reached certain moment of socialization and cones- clearly belong to individuals of different generations
quent separation from their mothers as individuals (for (adults with infants and children) (Table 16.3).
instance, Caucasian Alans reserved certain cemeteries for
The number of adults in one burial does not exceed two.
The number of sex determinations made by bioarchaeologists is even Double burials of adult and infant, adult and child or two
more meager: 53 assemblages in the selection of individual burials
(12.1%) and 15 in the selection of collective burials (11.8%). More detailed analysis of collective burials see in Andreeva 2005.


Table 16.2. Grave goods in individual burials (number of burials)

Selections Total
Grave good
I. Infants II. Children III. Pre-adults IV. Adults
% % % % %
Vessels 11 100.0% 20 47.6% 27 51.9% 192 57.3% 250 56.8%
Incense-cups 3 27.3% 11 26.2% 15 28.8% 84 25.1% 113 25.7%
Knives 0 0.0% 2 4.8% 8 15.4% 71 21.2% 81 18.4%
Awls 0 0.0% 2 4.8% 6 11.5% 52 15.5% 60 13.6%
Pestles 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 1.9% 25 7.5% 26 5.9%
Temporal rings 0 0.0% 1 2.4% 2 3.8% 12 3.6% 15 3.4%
Hooks 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 1.9% 8 2.4% 9 2.0%
Wagons 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 4 7.7% 9 2.7% 13 3.0%
Burials total 11 42 52 335 440

Table 16.3. Collective burial age selections Selection C: double burials of adults (14 burials, primary
group 7) (Fig. 16.4);
Age Number % Selection Selection D: double burials containing the remains of pre-
2 individuals adults in various combinations with pre-adults,
children or adults (12 burials, primary groups 3, 5, 6,
1 infant + adult 11 18.3% A 10) (Fig. 16.5). Selection D, unlike the first three
2 2 children 2 3.3% - selections, clearly displays its mixed and, so to say,
3 child + pre-adult 3 5.0% D buffer nature. It would be reasonable to resume this
discussion, however, only having considered the
4 child + adult 16 26.7% B
specific features of collective burials of adults with
5 2 pre-adults 4 6.7% D infants and children, on the one hand, and double
6 pre-adult + adult 4 6.7% D burials of adults.
7 2 adults 14 23.3% C
Collective burials in one burial chamber are represented
3 individuals
mainly by double burials (90%) whereas 5 assemblages
8 2 infants + adult 1 1.7% A containing 3 skeletons in one chamber each and the only
9 infant + 2 adults 1 1.7% A assemblage with 4 skeletons taken together make up 10%
of this selection.
10 2 children + pre-adult 1 1.7% D
11 2 children + adult 1 1.7% B It should be noticed that first and foremost, kurgan
child + pre-adult / collective burials from the Early and Middle Bronze Age
12 1 1.7% B
adult + adult are represented practically in all cemeteries and are an
4 individuals integral part of their structure though they neither define
nor distort it in any obvious way. On the other hand, it is
13 3 infants + adult 1 1.7% A
of importance that the ratio of collective burials in the
Total: 60 100.0% whole database of East Manych burial assemblages is
very similar at various sites; it approximately corresponds
to the average ranging from 8% to 13%. Therefore, the
adults represent steady series. The remains of infants are natural death of these individuals is disputable, as far as
not found together with non-adult individuals; child rema- the primary burials are concerned.
ins are always found together with skeletons of older indi-
viduals (pre-adults or adults). Four selections can be made: Of the specific features of collective (double) burials, I
Selection A: burials containing adults accompanied by should point to the relatively high ratio of secondary
infants (14 burials, including 11 double and 2 triple (partial, disarticulated; see the terminological discussion
burials as well as one containing 4 skeletons; primary in Smirnov 1997) burials of adult individuals: 12%
groups 1, 8, 9, 13) (Fig. 16.2); against 2.5% in the individual selection. No partial burials
of pre-adults in East Manych contexts, both collective and
Selection B: burials of adults accompanied by children (18 individual, are reliably recorded, perhaps partly because
burials, including 16 double and 2 triple burials; of the meager field logs. The discussed practice was
primary groups 4, 11, 12) (Fig. 16.3); applied to only one of the dead deposited in double


Fig. 16.2. Double adult/infant burials (selection A): 1 Chograi – IX к.01 b.04; 2 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.54 b.06;
3 Arharinsky к.31 b.01; 4 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.04 b.01; 5 Arharinsky к.02 b.05; 6 Elystinsky к.12 b.03;
7 Elystinsky к.08 b.06; 8 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.34 b.04


Fig. 16.3. Double adult/child burials (selection B): 1 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.34 b.06; 2 Vostochny Manych (left)
– I к.36 b.05; 3 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.54 b.04; 4 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.04 b.07; 5 Elystinsky к.13 b.04;
6 Elystinsky к.02 b.08; 7 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.36 b.03; 8 Vostochny Manych (left) - II) к.33 b.03;
9 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.11 b.02


Fig. 16.4. Double adult/adult burials (1-7, selection C) and adult/pre-adult burial (selection D): 1 Chograi – VIII к.09 b.03;
2 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.22 b.06; 3 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.37 b.06; 4 Vostochny Manych (left) – II к.23 b.03; 5 Lola
– I к.04 b.07; 6 Chograi – IX к.05 b.05; 7 Vostochny Manych (left) – к.07 b.05; 8 Vostochny Manych (left) – I к.43 b.01


Fig. 16.5. Double burials of pre-adults (1-5, selection D); collective burials of 3-4 individuals (6 and 8, selection A; 7,
selection B): 1 Veselaya Rosha – III к.24 b.07; 2 Veselaya Rosha – III к.07 b.13; 3 Ostrov к.03 b.27; 4 Vostochny Manych (left) – I
к.45 b.01; 5 Veselaya Rosha – III к.06 b.07; 6 Lola – I к.04 b.08; 7 Veselaya Rosha – III к.05 b.02; 8 Veselaya Rosha – I к.03 b.03


burials (three of seven assemblages contained burials of assemblages under investigation as obviously female,
adults accompanied by infants; four graves contained or the mother and child/children cliché (Table 16.5).
skeletons of two adults). Taking into account the sharply
4. Developing further the already proposed interpretation
increased share of disarticulated skeletal remains in the
model for the above burial structures as wagon houses
selection of collective burials, it seems possible to
in which the closest relatives sojourn, I suggest here to
suggest, at least hypothetically, that dismemberment of
consider the simultaneous double burials of individuals
the dead bodies – or the exhumation of burials described
belonging to different generations, deposited together
by the excavators as disturbed – was due to the intention
in the same chamber, as symbolic manifestations of an
to deposit these human remains in a future collective
ancestor-descendant relations type.
5. The obviously intentional burial of members of
Collective burials were performed in the traditional burial generations as “distant” as infants and senile in the
structures, catacombs and pit graves both dug in the same graves makes their closest biological relationship
subsoil or kurgan mound. The strict observation of the (parent – child) doubtful; they could hardly have been
collective burial rituals seems to be made clear from the brothers or in-laws as well. What we have here is
fact that their structures were dug in the subsoil more possibly the practice of adoption, which must have
often than the individual burial structures. These two been widely spread in a society based on blood
burial patterns do not differ in any substantial way from relationships and having a rather low life expectancy
each other, such as location in the mound (mainly its (especially as far as women are concerned). Anyway,
eastern half), and orientation of the dead (mainly to the when investigating the bearers of the East Manych
south and east). burial tradition, one should not reject a priori the
possibility of adoption practices as well as institutiona-
Compared to the age of the deceased in individual burials, lized class relationships as an alternative of the
a trend to a sharp and clearly deliberate departure from biological kinship.
the collective burial practice for the younger individuals is
obvious (Diagram 1). The above circumstances are rather Selections C and D
convincing evidence of the existence of ritual standards
regulating the division of groups buried in one chamber as What is most important about selection C, which includes
well as of the domination of vertical (generation) relations double burials of adults, is that neither archaeologist nor
between the deceased. bioarchaeologist has ever recorded a single case of burial
of two individuals of the same sex together in the same
Selections A and B chamber. On the contrary, 6 burials contained the remains
of male/female pairs; the sex of the deceased in 3 burials
Of special interest is the unusually high percentage of was determined by a bioarchaeologist and the rest were
collective burials containing remains of adults accompa- determined by an archaeologist (Table 16.6).
nied by infants up to 2 years (14 assemblages or 24.4%)
compared to the percentage of individual infant burials In the rest of the burials, the sex of one or both
(11 assemblages or 2.5%). individuals has not been determined. Noteworthy, the
deceased buried together in the same chamber fall within
The comparison of selections A and B to the individual the same age group. At the same time, no triple burials of
infant and child burials yielded the following conclusions: individuals belonging to the same age group (in the wide
meaning assumed here) have been recorded in the studied
1. The variability of infants’ and children’s positions in East Manych selection. Therefore for the time being,
the burial chambers against the background of the despite the insufficient data, the rare examples of double
steady adults’ position (Figs. 16.2-3) is a convincing burials representing pairs of adults (male and female) may
evidence that it was the remains of the adult individual be considered as evidence of the dominating standard of
that were considered as structure forming in the burial pair (monogamous?) marriage.
chamber space.
2. As it was made clear by the analysis of individual Both males and females buried according to the standard
burials, it was not the presence of infants in the ritual practice could have been deposited in the burial
collective burials that was the reason for the expanded structure in an identical position: contracted on the left
repertoire of prestigious grave goods categories (Table side in front or behind the partner, i.e. “one behind the
16.4, Diagram 2); on the contrary, the prestigiousness other”; contracted on the left side near the partner’s
of funerary ritual involved deposition of newborns’ disarticulated remains arranged in a “heap” or “package”
remains in the kurgan. (the sex of not a single individual of all four burials with
disarticulated remains has been determined); contracted
3. Bioarchaeological determinations of the age and sex of on the right side, with the face turned to the partner lying
deceased, buried in the same chamber together with on the left side. This latter type of spatial interrelation of
infants (5) and children (2), are not numerous, but the skeletal remains deserves special attention since it well
data obtained disprove the common illusion of the correlates, on the one hand, with a certain burial structure


Table 16.4. Grave goods in collective burials (number of burials)

Selections Total
Grave goods
% % % % %
Vessels 14 100.0% 11 61.1% 10 71.4% 10 83.3% 46 79.3%
Incense-cups 5 35.7% 2 11.1% 5 35.7% 6 50.0% 19 32.8%
Knives 6 42.9% 4 22.2% 4 28.6% 3 25.0% 17 29.3%
Awls 7 50.0% 1 5.6% 4 28.6% 2 16.7% 14 24.1%
Pestles 2 14.3% 2 11.1% 2 14.3% 0 0.0% 6 10.3%
Temporal rings 3 21.4% 0 0.0% 1 7.1% 0 0.0% 4 6.9%
Hooks 3 21.4% 0 0.0% 1 7.1% 1 8.3% 5 8.6%
Wagons 2 14.3% 0 0.0% 2 14.3% 0 0.0% 4 6.9%
Burials total 14 18 14 12 58

100,0% Collective
Selection A





temporal rings



Diagram 2. Grave goods in individual, collective and selection A burials

Table 16.5. Bioarchaeological determinations of age and sex (selections A and B)

Selection Assemblage4 1st infant 2nd infant 3rd infant
Sex Age
A VR-I к.03 b.03 male ? 1-2 years 1-2 years newborn
A VR-III к.21 b.15 male ? 1,5 year newborn -
A Ch-II к.18 b.09 female ? baby - -
A Ch-IX к.01 b.04 male Mat-Sen 3-9 months - -
A Ch-VIII к.12 b.01 female Adult-Mat newborn - -
B VR-I к.07 b.08 male > 55 years 4-5 years 5-6 years -
B Spas. к.01 b.08 female? Adult inf 1 - -

VR-I, III: Veselaya Rosha – I, III; Ch-II, VIII, IX: Chograi – II, VIII, IX; Spas.: Spasskoe.


Table 16.6. Sex-and-age determinations made by archaeologists and bioarchaeologists (selection C)

Archaeologists Bioarchaeologists
Sex/Age Age Sex Age
VML-I к.07 b.05 male + female ?+? - -
VML -I к.22 b.06 male + “adult” ?+? - -
VML -I к.50 b.03 “adult” + female both “young” - -
VML -II к.23 b.03 “adult” + female ?+? - -
VML -II к.37 b.06 “adult” + “adult” both Juv - -
Gr-I к.03 b.02 - - male? + ? > 45 years + 20-25 years
Gr-I к.08 b.02 “adult” + “adult” ?+? - -
Lola-I к.04 b.07 male + female both middle-aged - -
SP-I к.03 b.05 - - male + female both 40-50 years
Ch-IV к.04 b.05 “adult” + female ?+? - -
Ch-IX к.05 b.05 - - male? + female? Juv + Juv
Ch-V к.02 b.01 “adult” + “adult” ?+? - -
Ch-VI к.02 b.09 male + female ?+? - -
Ch-VIII к.09 b.03 - - male + female Ad-Mat + Juv

type – a pit grave dug in the subsoil or mound – and on CONCLUSIONS

the other hand, with prestigious grave goods categories.
Developing further the hypothesis of a wagon symbolism The deposition of children in kurgans was obviously only
in the mortuary practices of the catacomb cultures in the possible if there had been older child’s guides (adult men
North Caucasus piedmont, one may suggest that pit or women, seniors from pre-adult to senile) buried
graves represented counterparts of an open carriage (cart) together in the same grave or separately but in the same
and that catacombs symbolized a carriage whose cover kurgan. Infants were usually buried in kurgans in the
had been taken off and put on the ground. Burials in an same grave with an adult. On the contrary, pre-adults
open carriage suggested particularly spectacular rituals didn’t need a child’s guide and sometimes – although
whereas symmetrical depositions of two deceased rarely – they could have been buried individually in a
partners were considered as an imitation of marital rituals. central grave. If this was the case, they could have been
This has been evidenced by numerous mutual correlations accompanied only by child and pre-adult burials. Ritual
between the burial and marital rituals (as rites of passage) limitations of the above younger groups’ access to the
studied in the folklore and ethnography of many peoples, cemetery may be interpreted as the “socialization” stages
for example, the Eastern Slavs (Bayburin & Levintov of an individual.
The evidence of a male/female structure of collective
When considering selection D, one should pay special adult burials allows us to suggest the existence of a pair
attention to the relatively small number (4 burials of 13) (monogamous?) marriage, which, in its turn, can witness
of “pre-adult and adult” combinations in the same to the existence of a nuclear family. However, the
assemblage. Comparing it to the above interpretations, it collective burials reflect parent/child relations more often
seems reasonable to suggest that unlike children, pre- than husband/wife relations. This can be considered as an
adults did not need a child’s guide; moreover, they evidence of a low degree separation (ideological and
apparently could have played this role themselves. On the probably economic) of nuclear families inside the
other hand, in the selection under study, collective burials extended family.
of infants and pre-adults are virtually absent. Thus, in the
framework of standard mortuary practices, pre-adults The steady percentage of collective burial in various
seem as if linked mainly to individuals of their age as well cemeteries (about 10%) shows the regularity of this
as to infants; the situation seems to remind of those mortuary practice. Since the simultaneity of articulated
specific and scanty “children – pre-adults” cemeteries burials demanded simultaneous deaths (only 10 of a total
consisting of 2-5 burials in a barrow. of 53 were double adult burials and the rest contained
younger individuals), we should consider these assem-
VML-I, II: Vostochny Manych (left) – I, II; Gr-I: Grushevka – I; SP-I: blages as sacrificial. It is disputable of these deaths were
Suhaya Padina - I; Ch-IV-VI, VIII, IX: Chograi - IV-VI, VIII, IX. natural. On the other hand, the possibility of infanticide


cannot be ruled out. Notwithstanding the absence of exact ций. OPUS: Междисциплинарные исследования в
demographic data, it is now clear that a population археологии 4: 68-93.
explosion happened in the Middle Bronze Age Whatever BAYBURIN, A.K. & G.A. LEVINTON 1990. Похороны
was the ideological meaning of these sacrifices, it served и свадьба, in Исследования в области балто-
as the most efficient means of demographic control or славянской духовной культуры Погребальный
some kind of extensive family/lineage planning. обряд Москва Наука
: 64-99. : .
KOROBOV, D.S. 2003. Социальная организация алан
Северного Кавказа IV-IX вв. Санкт-Петербург:
ANDREEVA М.V. 2005. Синхронные совместные SMIRNOV, Y.A. 1997. Лабиринт. Морфология пред-
погребения восточноманычской катакомбной кул- намеренного погребения: Исследование, тексты,
ьтуры как источник палеосоциальных реконструк- словарь. Москва: Восточная литература.

Leiden University, The Netherlands,

Abstract: Special treatment of the remains of children is a well-known feature in Central Italy from the Neolithic onwards. Here I
will focus on the evidence for the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in two adjacent Central Italian regions (Abruzzo and Lazio). It will
be argued that mortuary practice involving neonates, infants and children was connected with domestic symbolism, showing the
enhanced cultural significance of infant/child burials. Investing child burials with domestic symbolism, burying communities singled
out fundamental values in the social reproduction of households and local communities in the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age of
Central Italy.
Key words: Central Italy, prehistory, child burials

Résumé: Le traitement spécial des ossements d’enfants est une caractéristique connue de la préhistoire en Italie Centrale. Cet
article concerne des données de l’Age du Bronze et du premier Age du Fer dans deux régions limitrophes, notamment Abruzzo et
Lazio (Italie Centrale). Les pratiques funéraires des enfants étaient liées au symbolisme domestique, montrant une signification
culturelle élevée dans sépultures d’enfants. Avec ce symbolisme domestique dans les sépultures d’enfants, les gens de l’Age du
Bronze et du premier Age du Fer en Italie Centrale mettaient l’accent sur des valeurs fondamentales de la reproduction sociale des
communautés locales.
Mots clés: Italie Centrale, préhistoire, sépultures d’enfants

INTRODUCTION former case will lie on qualitative observations that can be

used in comparison with the latter case.
Special treatment of the remains of children is a well-
known feature of prehistoric society in Central Italy from
the Neolithic onwards. The inclusion of children in INFANT/CHILD BURIALS IN THE BRONZE AGE
funerary and other ritual practices has increased their OF ABRUZZO AND LAZIO
archaeological visibility, but leaves us with a number of
questions. First of all, there is the issue that in most In this section an overview of infant/child burials in
prehistoric situations burial was selective, i.e. we can Abruzzo and Lazio will be presented for the four phases
assume that selection of individuals for burial took place. of the Italian Bronze Age. Given the circumstance of
In general, the treatment of the majority of prehistoric selective burial in this period, the approach adopted is a
people escapes us archaeologically. Therefore we should qualitative one – including wider contextual information –
be aware that not only infant/child burials, but also adult rather than a quantative one. In general, archaeological
burials represented a select group in prehistoric funerary visibility of mortuary practice is low for the earlier phases
traditions. The issue of selection brings us to the second of the Bronze Age.
question: To what extent do prehistoric burials have to be
regarded as acts of structured deposition in a wider social Early Bronze Age (c. 2100-1700 BC)
and cultural context? To answer this question, burials
should be compared with contemporary acts of deposition In line with the overall scarcity of evidence for the Early
at other places in the framework of a cultural landscape Bronze Age, only a few burial contexts are known from
approach. Central Italy as a whole (Cocchi Genick 1998). This
suggests that burial was very selective and/or took forms
With these two main questions in mind, the aim of this that are archaeologically invisible. In Lazio the Eneolithic
paper is to give a contextualized overview of the evidence tradition of collective burial in rock-cut chamber tombs
for infant/child burials in the Bronze Age and Early Iron (Dolfini 2006) may have continued into the first phase of
Age of Abruzzo and Lazio, two adjacent regions in the Early Bronze Age. Its use of man-made structures for
Central Italy, stretching from the Adriatic to the repeated, collective burial including the deposition of
Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula. The chronological scope ceramics, can also be found in a ritual structure at Fosso
covers transformations from collective to individual Conicchio that was used during the Final Eneolithic and
burial, and from selective to non-selective burial. The the first phase of the Early Bronze Age. Among the
limited space available here does not provide the disarticulated remains from this structure, two children
opportunity to go into as much detail in the overview of have been identified (Table 17.1). In Abruzzo, on the
the situation of non-selective burial in the Early Iron Age, other hand, predominantly natural places (i.e. caves) seem
as will be the case in the overview of the situation of to have been used for repeated, collective burial and for
selective burial in the Bronze Age. The emphasis in the the deposition of ceramics and foodstuffs (Cocchi Genick


Table 17.1. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Early Bronze Age
site context children adults references
Fugazzola Delpino &
Fosso Conicchio structure used for ritual practices child (7-8y)
3 adults Pellegrini 1999, 152-
(Viterbo, Lazio) (including disarticulated human remains) adolescent (14-15y)
Grotta Sant’Angelo infant (3y)
cave used for burial (disarticulated human Mallegni & Ronco
(Civitella del Tronto, child (10y) 1 adult
remains) and domestic ritual practices 1996, 266-267
Teramo, Abruzzo) adolescent (15y)

Table 17.2. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Middle Bronze Age
site context children adults references
structure used for domestic ritual
Torre dei Passeri
practices (including disarticulated foetus/neonate (femur) adult (skull) Recchia 2003
(Pescara, Abruzzo)
human remains)
Prato di Frabulino
rock-cut chamber tomb with
(Farnese, Viterbo, 1 child (6-10y) 3 adults Casi et al. 1995
disarticulated human remains
Crostoletto di Lamone
cairn of stones with inhumations in 1 child Cocchi Genick
(Ischia di Castro, 2 adults
an area used for ritual practice (at the feet of the adults) 2002, 124-125
Viterbo, Lazio)
rock fissure used for burial
Felcetone (Ischia di 2 “very young” 12 adults (and Rittatore 1951b,
(disarticulated human remains) and
Castro, Viterbo, Lazio) individuals adolescents?) 164
domestic ritual practices
Grotta Di Carli (Ischia cave used for burial (disarticulated
di Castro, Viterbo, human remains) and domestic ritual 1 child (10y) 3 adults Allegrezza 2000
Lazio) practices
cave used for burial (disarticulated
Grotta Misa (Ischia di Rittatore 1951a,
human remains) and domestic ritual 4 children 6 adults
Castro, Viterbo, Lazio) 18
Grotta dello Sventatoio cave used for burial (disarticulated 3 young children
Angle et al.
(Sant’Angelo Romano, human remains) and domestic ritual (secondarily burnt pieces
Roma, Lazio) practices of skull)
Grotta Regina cave used for burial (disarticulated 1 neonate
Guidi 1981,
Margherita (Collepardo, human remains) and domestic ritual 1 child 2 adults
Frosinone, Lazio) practices 1 adolescent
cave used for burial (disarticulated Guidi
Grotta Vittorio Vecchi 11 children
and articulated human remains) and 29 adults 1991/1992,
(Sezze, Latina, Lazio) (a.o. 0-1y and 6-7y)
domestic ritual practices 428-431

1998). In the assemblage from Grotta Sant’Angelo, of children were primarily associated with secondary
disarticulated remains of three children have been treatment in the context of domestic ritual practices that
identified (Table 17.1). In addition, a couple of man-made probably served a collective purpose.
burial contexts have been found (Cocchi Genick 1998),
which were exclusive to adults. Middle Bronze Age (c. 1700-1350 BC)

Despite the small size of this sample, we can make the In line with the wider availability of evidence for the
following observations about child burial in the Early Middle Bronze Age in Central Italy (Cocchi Genick
Bronze Age. In general, the majority of burial places were 2002), the number of burial contexts known from
used repeatedly and incorporated practices of secondary Abruzzo and Lazio has increased. As in the previous
burial, given the disarticulated state of human remains. period, the majority of human remains have been found in
These places were not only used for collective burial, but a disarticulated state, in the context of collective burial
simultaneously for other depositional practices, arguably places. Although there is some evidence for the continued
with a domestic connotation. Children have only been use of caves for burial and domestic ritual practices in
identified as disarticulated remains in such collective Abruzzo, no remains of children have been identified in
burial and/or ritual contexts. This shows that the remains these assemblages. The only instance of an infant/child


Table 17.3. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Late Bronze Age
site context children adults references
Grotta Sant’Angelo cave used for burial (disarticulated infant (2-3y)
Mallegni & Ronco
(Civitella del Tronto, human remains) and domestic child (6-8y) 1 adult
1996, 267
Teramo, Abruzzo) ritual practices child (13y)
infant (1-2y)
child (3-7y)
urnfield comprising of at least 40
Cavallo Morto child (4-5y) Angle et al. 2004,
individual cremation burials 11 adults
(Anzio, Roma, Lazio) child 139-140
(17 of which could be analysed)
adolescent (<17y)
adolescent (<17y)

burial is represented by the femur of a foetus or neonate in combination with ceramic vessels (Grotta Vittorio
found in a man-made underground structure at Torre dei Vecchi). These instances highlight the secondary
Passeri (Table 17.2). The ritual character of this structure treatment of human remains – and children in particular –
is represented by a skull fragment of an adult male, and as as part of a body of ritual practices that served a collective
wide a range of objects with a domestic connotation (e.g. purpose.
miniature vessels and spindlewhorls) as in contemporary
ritual cave assemblages (Van Rossenberg 2005a, 80f). Late Bronze Age (c. 1350-1200 BC)

Burial evidence in Lazio is overwhelming for the Middle For the Late Bronze Age only a limited number of burial
Bronze Age, and derives predominantly from caves that places are known in Central Italy, which suggests that
were used simultaneously for other depositional practices. burial was selective, as in the previous phases of the
The latter are mainly represented by offerings of Bronze Age. In Abruzzo, a number of caves remained in
foodstuffs, in combination with depositions of objects use as places for burial and other ritual practices in the
with a domestic connotation, such as ceramic vessels, Late Bronze Age, whereas in Lazio all caves had been
spindlewhorls and quernstones and/or mullers (Cocchi abandoned at this stage (Guidi 1991/1992). The decrease
Genick 2002, 125-148). The predominantly disarticulated in the use of caves has made mortuary practice of the Late
state of human remains found in caves suggests that these Bronze Age archaeologically less visible than the
bones represent instances of secondary burial or handling previous phase. In Abruzzo, three children (2-3y, 6-8y
of human remains, in the context of domestic ritual and 13y) have been identified among the disarticulated
practices. The disarticulated human remains amount to a remains of four individuals in the assemblage of Grotta
minimum number of eighty individuals, among which Sant’Angelo (Table 17.3), buried before the cave was
approximately twenty-five children have been identified abandoned at the start of the Final Bronze Age. At the
(Table 17.2). Children were also represented in other, less same time, a tradition of individual inhumation burials
frequent types of burial, i.e. as disarticulated remains in a emerged in Abruzzo and continued in the Final Bronze
chamber tomb (Prato di Frabulino) and as a primary Age. At Paludi di Celano a series of inhumations under
burial in the context of a cairn of stones (Crostoletto di barrows started with the burial of a young adult male (20-
Lamone) (Table 17.2). 23y) in the Late Bronze Age (D’Ercole 2001).

The relative abundance of burial evidence, especially in After the abandonment of caves, the only burial evidence
Lazio, should not be interpreted in the sense that burial for the Late Bronze Age in Lazio is represented by an
was less selective in the Middle Bronze Age than in the urnfield excavated at Cavallo Morto (Angle et al. 2004).
previous period. The peak in the use of caves for the Of the approximately forty cremation burials that were
(re)deposition of human remains – as part of a body of excavated at this site, seventeen could be analysed; four
domestic ritual practices – may simply represent a case of of these incorporated children and two incorporated
increased archaeological visibility. Significantly, all adolescents (Table 17.3). Bronze objects were overrepre-
Middle Bronze Age burial contexts in Abruzzo and Lazio sented in the burials of young individuals, with respect to
can be regarded as collective places, and again the the adult burials. Whereas only four out of eleven adult
remains of children have been found exclusively at sites burials included a fibula and/or a razor, a fibula was
that were used simultaneously for burial and ritual included in the burials of three children and one ado-
practice (Table 17.2). The young individuals selected for lescent (four out of six). Moreover, the fibulae in the three
burial included neonates (Torre dei Passeri, Grotta Regina infant/child burials were complete, whereas those in the
Margherita, Grotta Vittorio Vecchi). In some cases there adolescent and adult burials were fragmented, possibly as
is evidence that the skulls of children were singled out for a result of the actual cremation. The differentiation in the
particular ritual practices, such as secondary burning treatment of these grave goods coincides with the age gap
(Grotta dello Sventatoio) and acts of structured deposition between children and adolescents represented in this


cemetery (Table 17.3). This age-related phenomenon sets Final Bronze Age (Van Rossenberg 2005a, 82) can be
the infant/child burials apart as acts of structured depo- found in the curation of disarticulated human skulls in
sition including complete valuable objects. As such, it settlements. One of two fragments from the settlement at
might contradict the common notion in Italian prehistory Fondjò has been attributed to a child (Table 17.4).
that grave goods in individual burials have to be regarded
indiscriminately as personal items and that wealth in child Burial evidence for the Final Bronze Age in Lazio
burials represents ascribed status, indicative of pronoun- represents a tradition of cremation burials in cemeteries or
ced social stratification (cf. McHugh 1999, 24ff. on urnfields (Di Gennaro & Guidi 2000, 111-114; Pacciarelli
wealthy child burials). 2000, 202-216). Osteological analysis of cremated re-
mains has been adopted in archaeological research only
Given the socially disruptive implications normally relatively recently, which limits the availability of infor-
attributed to the transition from collective to individual mation on age and sex of buried individuals to modern
burial, here I will develop the argument by highlighting excavations. Infant/child burials have been identified both
similarities with the situation in the previous period. The in smaller cemeteries (Le Caprine) and in nuclei of burials
relative scarcity of burial evidence in the Late Bronze in larger cemeteries or areas reserved for burial (Monte
Age – both in terms of the total number of buried Tosto Alto, Poggio La Pozza) (Table 17.4). From this
individuals and the number of burial places – shows that limited sample, the striking pattern emerges that almost
burial, as far as we know it, was selective. It seems likely all of the infant/child burials can be characterised as
that the limited number of new open-air cemeteries with elaborate, in the context of both multiple and individual
primary, individual burials (i.e. inhumation in Abruzzo burials (Table 17.4). They were invested with domestic
and cremation in Lazio) would have served a collective symbolism (Van Rossenberg 2005b, 86ff.), in the form of
purpose as central burial places for a number of settle- grave goods with a domestic connotation, such as pottery
ments (contra Angle et al. 2004, 125-128 on Cavallo (e.g. storage vessels as containers of cremation burials;
Morto), similar to that of caves. As in selective burial in smaller accessory vessels), spinning and/or weaving
caves (Grotta Sant’Angelo), children were included in the equipment (e.g. spindlewhorl, bobbin, distaff) and, as
new traditions of individual burial (Cavallo Morto). In argued above, bronze ornaments (e.g. fibulae, rings).
fact, the proportion of children identified at Cavallo Domestic symbolism was also highlighted in miniaturism
Morto recalls the proportion in cave assemblages of the (cf. Bailey 2005, chapter 2) of grave goods, such as
previous period (i.e. approximately one third). Finally, accessory vessels and bronze objects (e.g. fibulae,
there is circumstantial evidence that – as acts of structured knives), and the containers of the cremated remains (e.g.
deposition including metalwork – the primary infant/child smaller urns), epitomized in the urns in the form of
burials at Cavallo Morto had domestic connotations houses (so-called hut urns, e.g. Le Caprine). Finally, the
similar to secondary burial as part of domestic ritual majority of the children that were singled out for these
practices in caves, if we extrapolate the domestic burials seem to have belonged to a specific age group
connotation of bronze ornaments in contemporary acts of (<6y) (Table 17.4, cf. the age distribution of Cavallo
structured deposition in the context of settlements (Van Morto in the previous period, see Table 17.3). This age
Rossenberg 2005a, 79-82). group may have had a domestic connotation in itself, if
we assume that until the age of six to ten years children
Final Bronze Age (c. 1200-1000 BC) would have been confined to the settlement and thus
linked metaphorically with the domestic sphere. Indivi-
In the Final Bronze Age caves in Abruzzo were aban- duals belonging to this ‘domestic’ age group, i.e. those
doned as places for burial and other ritual practices, and a who had died before they had been vested with a social
new regionally specific tradition of inhumation under persona beyond the domestic sphere, became incorporated
barrows emerged (Cosentino et al. 2003). This concerned in the larger social group in the act of burial, invested
selective burial, as only ten primary burials are known in with domestic symbolism, in the context of a communal
the region, half of which make up a small cemetery cemetery.
excavated at Paludi di Celano (D’Ercole 2001). In this
series of six inhumation burials in tree coffins under Here I will develop the argument that the category of
barrows, two children have been identified (Table 17.4). “wealthy child burials” (cf. McHugh 1999, 24ff.) should
On the basis of the assumption that ornaments were gen- be regarded as acts of structured deposition with a
der specific grave goods, all individuals in Final Bronze domestic connotation. An important question that arises in
Age burials have been identified as female, including the the context of structured deposition is to what extent
two children from the cemetery at Paludi di Celano, who cremation burials should be regarded as primary
are regarded as girls. Given the domestic connotation of depositions, or rather as final acts in a prolonged funerary
the deposition of ornaments in settlements in the Final sequence. Especially in the largest cemetery (Poggio La
Bronze Age (Van Rossenberg 2005a, 82), like in the Pozza) there is ample evidence for secondary handling of
previous period, we can argue that burials were acts of cremated remains in the form of multiple burials (Table
structured deposition with a domestic connotation. 17.4) and emptied burials (Van Rossenberg 2005b, 86). In
Another element of the shift in location of burial and this respect, it should be appreciated that this particular
domestic ritual practices from caves to settlements in the cemetery was situated in a large area that provided a focus


Table 17.4. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo and Lazio: Final Bronze Age
site context children adults references
Paludi di Celano individual inhumation D’Ercole 2001
infant (2-3y) with fibula
(L’Aquila, Abruzzo) under barrow 5
(cemetery with at least individual inhumation child (7-10y) with fibula and two D’Ercole 2001
6 barrows) under barrow 6 fingerings
disarticulated human Grifoni Cremonesi
Fondjò (Collelongo, adult (skull
remains in settlement child (skull fragment) 1973, 521
L’Aquila, Abruzzo) fragment)
Luni-Tre Erici (Blera, inhumation under Östenberg 1967, 42-
child (10-12)
Viterbo, Lazio) house floor 43
multiple cremation adult (in Bastianelli 1939,
“young child” with fibula (in one urn)
burial (in two urns) other urn) 45-47
Peroni 1960, 345-
individual cremation child (5-9y) with fibula, ring and 10
346, 351; D’Ercole
burial F1 amber beads (in the urn)
1998, 182, n.1
child (0-6y) with a.o. 2 bronze Peroni 1960, 346-
multiple cremation fibulae, 2 pendants, 2 spirals, wheel- 347, 351-352;
2 adults
burial F2 (in one urn) shaped pin-head and 26 amber beads D’Ercole 1998, 182,
(in the urn) n. 1
Peroni 1960, 347-
Poggio La Pozza individual cremation adolescent (13-21y) with accessory
349, 353; D’Ercole
(Allumiere, Roma, burial F3 vessel
1998, 182, n.1
Lazio) (cemetery with
multiple cremation infant/child (0-6y) with bone disk D’Ercole 1995, 177-
at least 40 cremation adult
burial 6 (in one urn) fragment decorated with circles 178
infant/child (0-6y) with fibula and D’Ercole 1998, 183
individual cremation zoomorphic miniature vessel (with
burial 13 bronze lid), and 2 rings on the lid of
the urn
individual cremation D’Ercole 1998, 184
infant/child (0-6y)
burial 17
individual cremation infant/child (0-6y) with ring and D’Ercole 1998, 185
burial 19 accessory vessel
multiple cremation infant/child (0-6y) with fibula and D’Ercole 1998, 185-
burial 20 (in one urn) ring 186
Monte Tosto Alto infant (0-1y) with 2 small or Trucco et al. 2000,
individual burial
(Cerveteri, Roma, miniature vessels 488
Lazio) (nucleus of at child/adolescent (12-15y) with fibula Trucco et al. 2000,
least 3 cremation burials individual burial and chain of rings (in small urn), and 487-488
in a larger cemetery) set of 5 small or miniature vessels
infant (c. 1y) in hut urn (incorporated Damiani et al. 1998,
multiple burial 2 in cremation burial of adult), with set adult 204-205
of 9 miniature vessels
adolescent (female) with fibula, set of Damiani et al. 1998,
individual burial 4
Le Caprine (Guidonia, 5 miniature vessels and 7 bobbins 205-206
Roma, Lazio) (cemetery
infant (6m-2y) with miniature knife, Damiani et al. 1998,
with 5 elaborate
large number of ornaments, 10 glass- 206-208
cremation burials)
paste beads, spindlewhorl, 4 bobbins,
individual burial 5 bronze distaff, bone comb, ivory
comb, bronze object decorated with
two stylized birds (in miniature urn),
and set of 8 miniature vessels

for communal practices by a number of settlements (Di depositions of metalwork – often predominated by orna-
Gennaro & Guidi 2000, 112). Apart from burial, Final ments – contained in ceramic vessels (Fugazzola Delpino
Bronze Age depositional practices included hoards or 1975). Such acts of structured deposition of objects in a


ceramic container show a conceptual link with the urn as 2001b). Among these at least fifteen infant/child and
a container in cremation burials. On a smaller scale, adolescent burials have been recognised (Table 17.5). On
similar depositional practices can be discerned in the the basis of grave goods, age groups of children (<10y),
cemetery at Le Caprine (Table 17.4), including a multiple adolescents (<18y) and adults (>20y) have been distin-
burial, incorporating the cremated remains of an infant in guished. The distinction between the latter two categories
a curated or redeposited ‘hut urn’, and a wealthy child seems to have been one of degree. Four adolescent burials
burial with grave goods that show many similarities with have been attributed to young men (Cosentino et al.
contemporary hoards of metalwork (Van Rossenberg 2001b, 66f, 73f, 74-77 and 79ff), on the basis of
2005b, 88). These connections underscore that cremation weaponry (i.e. swords and spearheads) as a male gender
burials as depositions were comparable with contempo- indicator in adult burials. The treatment of swords in two
rary, non-funerary acts of structured deposition. The child burials was different, i.e. one positioned with the
selection of individuals from a ‘domestic’ age group, i.e. point towards the face instead of the feet and the other
infants/children, and grave goods with a domestic (deliberately?) fragmented (Cosentino et al. 2001b, 92f.
connotation, made that elaborate burials represented com- and 115f). This distinction suggests that adolescents
munal values in social reproduction rather than personal would have been familiar with handling weaponry,
status per se (Van Rossenberg 2005b, 86). In this respect, whereas younger boys were not. One adolescent burial
the instance represented by the inhumation of an older has been attributed to a young woman, with a necklace of
child (10-12y) under a house floor (Luni-Tre Erici) (Table amber beads and an ivory ornament (Cosentino et al.
17.4), deviating from the norm of cremation, highlights 2001b, 120ff), on the basis of the absence of weaponry
both the domestic connotation of burial and in contrast the and the presence of elaborate ornaments as female gender
elaborateness of cremation burials. In the context of indicators in adult burials. Apart from the two swords
communal cemeteries in the Final Bronze Age (Di Gen- mentioned, no gender indicators have been singled out to
naro & Guidi 2000, 112), elaborate infant/child burials tell boys and girls apart on the basis of their grave goods.
were instrumental in community formation, articulating The predominance of ornaments, such as fibulae, brace-
domestic with collective identities. lets and rings, in infant/child burials however, does recall
the later Bronze Age association between ornaments and
this age group.
AGE (C. 1000-800 BC) OF ABRUZZO AND LAZIO In the cemetery at Fossa the following chronological and
spatial patterns can be discerned. Whereas in the first
Traditionally, socially disruptive implications have also phase of the Early Iron Age only adults were buried (save
been attributed to the transformation of mortuary practice one neonate), in the second phase child and adolescent
at the Bronze Age-Iron Age transition. In Abruzzo burial burials comprised one third (Table 17.5). In the first phase
became less selective in the Early Iron Age than in any of the Late Iron Age only children and adolescents (save
phase of the Bronze Age, whereas in Lazio burial seems one adult) were selected for an Early Iron Age type of
to have become non-selective in the Early Iron Age. burial under barrows (Table 17.5). In general, the smaller
Consequently, larger cemeteries predominate the burial barrows of children and adolescent burials were situated
record for this period in Central Italy. Given the limited in the spaces left open by the larger barrows of adult
space available in this paper, the better known situation in burials that had been built in the earlier phases of the
Lazio will be presented in the form of established cemetery. Given the occurrence of storage vessels in
interpretations, whereas infant/child burials in Abruzzo direct association with the earliest barrows, it has been
will be discussed at more length. The emphasis in this argued that these spaces were used for ancestralising
section will lie on qualitative observations on infant/child practices of communal and commemorative food con-
burials in the Early Iron Age that can be used in com- sumption (Cosentino et al. 2001b, 197-203). Con-
parison with the Bronze Age case. With this particular ceptualised as domestic and ancestral, these spaces were
focus, it shows that there were many similarities between not inappropriate places for child burials, given their
mortuary practice in the Early Iron Age and in the Bronze domestic connotation in the Bronze Age. The ancestral
Age, mainly in the connections between infant/child dimension is underscored by the fact that the majority of
burials and domestic symbolism. Late Iron Age interments – including child burials – took
place in earlier barrows. One of the barrows that was
Abruzzo selected as a focus for these later interments, had already
provided a focus for the neonate burial in the first phase
Burial evidence for the Early Iron Age in Abruzzo of the Early Iron Age (Cosentino et al. 2001b, 104 and
represents a continuation of the tradition of individual 126).
inhumation burials under barrows, in a less selective
manner, thus giving rise to a number of smaller and larger Patterns similar to those discerned at Fossa (i.e. the long-
cemeteries (Cosentino et al. 2003). So far the largest term use of the same area for burial; the positioning of
cemetery has been excavated at Fossa, which consists of infant/child burials in particular plots; the reuse of earlier
approximately fifty barrows dating to the Early Iron Age barrows for interments, or as a focus for infant/child
and the first phase of the Late Iron Age (Cosentino et al. burials) can be found in Iron Age cemeteries with a


Table 17.5. Infant/child burials in Abruzzo: Early Iron Age and Late Iron Age (first phase)

site context children references

Early Iron Age (first phase), Cosentino et al.
Fossa (Casale, neonate (0-3m)
with 12 adult burials 2001b, 191, fig. 56
L’Aquila) (cemetery
child (3-5y), child (5-9y), child (5-9y),
with approximately Early Iron Age (second phase), Cosentino et al.
child (6-10y), adolescent (14-17y),
50 inhumations under with 10 adult burials 2001b, 191, fig. 56
adolescent (15-18y)
barrows, Early Iron
Age & first phase of 2 infants, infant/child (2-4y), infant/child
Late Iron Age (first phase), Cosentino et al.
the Late Iron Age) (2-8y), child (6-8y), adolescent (12-15y),
with 1 adult burial 2001b, 191, fig. 56
adolescent (14-16y), adolescent (15-17y)
neonate (0-6m), with fibula, necklace,
pendants and spirals (Early Iron Age)

Piani Palentini infant/child (0-6y), with 4 fibulae,

group of four elaborate infant/child bracelet, 2 rings and necklace
(Scurcola Marsicana, Cosentino et al.
burials in simple graves, (Early Iron Age)
L’Aquila) (cemetery 2001a, 185-187,
Early Iron Age-Late Iron Age
with at least 13 neonate (0-6m), with small spearhead 190-191
(first phase)
barrows, Early Iron outside grave (Late Iron Age)
Age & first phase of
child (5-6y), with 2 fibulae, necklace,
the Late Iron Age)
and ring (Late Iron Age)
elaborate child burial under barrow, child (4-8y) with decorative belt, fibulae, Cosentino et al.
Early Iron Age (final stage) necklaces, pendants, bracelets 2001a, 196-199
infant/child, with 2 fibulae D’Ercole & Grassi
San Benedetto in earliest burial, Early Iron Age
and necklace 2000, 201
Perillis (L’Aquila)
infant/child, with dagger, 2 fibulae,
(small Iron Age
2 elaborate infant/child burials, rings, bracelet, torques and 3 vessels D’Ercole & Grassi
cemetery with 7
burials) Late Iron Age (first phase) infant/child, with bracelet, ring, fibula, 2000, 201
and torques
early (earliest?) elaborate burial
Cosentino et al.
under barrow (Early Iron Age-Late
Bazzano (L’Aquila) 2001b, 215-217;
Iron Age transition), in area used for child (4-6y?), with bracelets, fibulae,
(large Iron Age Costentino et al.
neonate and infant burials, dress-pin, sword and knife
cemetery) 2003, 435-438,
Late Iron Age
D’Ercole et al. 2003
(first phase)
Campo di Monte D’Ercole & Grassi
(Caporciano, infant/child burials next to earlier neonate 2000, 199-201;
L’Aquila) (small Iron barrows, Late Iron Age (first phase) 2 infants/children Cosentino et al.
Age cemetery) 2001b, 220-222
infant/child or adolescent, Cosentino et al.
Campovalano earliest burial, Early Iron Age
with small fibula 2001b, 225
(Campli, Teramo)
(large Iron Age elaborate child burial in barrow
child, with a vessel containing Cosentino et al.
cemetery) (possibly as act of reuse),
spindlewhorl and 8 bobbins 2001b, 225
Late Iron Age (first phase)
elaborate child burial interred in child (2-4y) with torques, rings,
D’Ercole & Grassi
earlier barrow, Late Iron Age pendants, fibulae, knive, spearhead and 6
2000, 194-195
(first phase) vessels
neonate (0-3m), with necklace, fibula,
pendants, rings and small vessel
group of three infant/child burials
La Cona (Teramo) infant/child, D’Ercole & Grassi
next to earlier barrow,
(large Iron Age with 2 vessels 2000, 195
Late Iron Age (first phase)
cemetery with several child (4-6y), with pendant, fibula,
clusters of burials) knive and vessel
area reserved for elaborate
infant/child burials, in association
with two interred storage Savini & Torrieri
2 neonates, child (6-8y), child (6-10y)
vessels, Late Iron Age 2003
(first phase)


smaller number of Early Iron Age burials (Table 17.5). The majority of child burials in the Early Iron Age and
Both in larger and smaller cemeteries infant/child burials the first phase of the Late Iron Age belonged to a specific
were restricted to particular plots within the cemetery. age group (<6y). Only the largest cemetery excavated so
They occurred under smaller barrows and in groups of far (Fossa) has provided a considerable number of burials
graves situated in the spaces left open by earlier barrows of older children (<12y) and adolescents (<18y). These
(e.g. Fossa, Piani Palentini) in the Early Iron Age and the age groups are underrepresented in smaller cemeteries for
first phase of the Late Iron Age. In the latter phase they which information is available on the age of buried
were situated either in connection with earlier barrows individuals. One explanation is that burial was simply less
(e.g. Bazzano, Campo di Monte, La Cona) or in segre- selective at Fossa than in the other cemeteries. Another
gated spaces in a larger cemetery (e.g. La Cona). In the possibility is that the size of cemeteries was related to
smaller cemeteries children (<10y) were singled out for scales of social interaction and that we have to distinguish
elaborate acts of structured deposition that were mostly between smaller cemeteries with a local character and
unparalleled in adult burials. large cemeteries with a regional character. In that case,
the fact that infants and young children (<6y) were
These elaborate burials probably coincided with the selected for elaborate acts of burial in smaller cemeteries
inception and lay-out of a cemetery (e.g. San Benedetto in could have been connected with a threshold age of
Perillis, Bazzano) or a change in its use (e.g. Piani initiation into social life beyond the local, domestic
Palentini). At Piani Palentini the most elaborate child sphere, as argued for the previous period. The elabo-
burial, dated to the end of the Early Iron Age, was rateness of child burials, as acts of structured deposition
situated in the part of the cemetery that became the focus unparalleled in adult burials in local cemeteries, suggests
for reuse, in the form of interments in earlier barrows, in that it was this young age group that was singled out to
the Late Iron Age. Given the reuse of the central graves articulate domestic with collective identities in the Early
under barrows in this period (Cosentino et al. 2001a, Iron Age and the first phase of the Late Iron Age.
184), this elaborate child burial could in itself represent
the reuse of grave goods from an earlier burial. Its NE Lazio
orientation marked the broadening of the range of
orientations from ENE to ESE in the Early Iron Age to In Lazio burial became more or less non-selective in the
NE to SE in the Late Iron Age. At Bazzano the first child Early Iron Age, which gave rise to larger cemeteries, in
burial incorporated two orientations – the body to the SE some cases consisting of hundreds of burials. Given the
and the sword to the S in line with a row of standing wealth of burial evidence, the focus in this section will lie
stones running from the edge of the barrow – that were on established interpretations and, more in particular,
followed in two rows of infant/child burials in the first previous studies on child burials in the region. Although
phase of the Late Iron Age. A N/S orientation was rarely this suggests that Early Iron Age burial in Lazio is well
used and most likely had particular religious connotations, known, child burials remain underrepresented, with
thus conceptually segregating this group of burials. This respect to adult burials, in the archaeological record. The
is not unlike the physically segregated group of infant/ debate on child burials focuses on the transition from the
child burials at La Cona, which incorporated an equally Early Iron Age to the Late Iron Age, when a tradition of
inferquent orientation of NNE. infant burials emerged that was associated with houses in
a number of settlement contexts (among other places,
In the case of Fossa it was argued that infant/child burials Rome) in the southern part of the region, and coincided
were connected with domestic concerns in the Early Iron with the disappearance of this age group from cemeteries
Age, in the sense that commemorative practices of food (Bietti Sestieri & De Santis 1985, 39ff; Modica 1993).
consumption took place in the same spaces used for child Before we turn to this later tradition of special treatment
burial in the cemetery. This commemorative ancestral of infants with its obvious domestic connotations, I will
dimension of these spaces may explain the absence of illustrate the situation in the Early Iron Age and make
vessels as grave goods in infant/child burials in the Early comparisons with the situation in the Final Bronze Age,
Iron Age, as opposed to adult burials. Infant/child burials by taking one of the largest and best-published Iron Age
also included a range of ornaments as grave goods, cemeteries, Osteria dell’Osa (Bietti Sestieri 1992a &
arguably with a domestic connotation in the later Bronze 1992b), as an example. In an attempt to explore the
Age. Commemorative practices of food consumption domestic aspects of burials in this cemetery on an earlier
were also recognized in two storage vessels in the occasion (Van Rossenberg 2005c), I have given the
infant/child burial plot at La Cona, in the first phase of wrong impression by presenting a number of elements
the Late Iron Age. Starting with this phase, vessels that are specific to distinct phases of the cemetery, as if
became normal accessories in infant/burials, as they had they occurred simultaneously. Here I will be more precise
been earlier in adult burials. They can be regarded as a and elaborate on the Early Iron Age phases of the
domestic dimension and should be seen in the light of cemetery.
the contemporary elaborate child burial at Campovalano
with a vessel that contained spinning equipment (i.e. In terms of burial traditions in the Early Iron Age the
spindle-whorls, bobbins) as an act of structured depo- Lazio region can be divided roughly into two parts, one to
sition. the north of the Tiber river, i.e. Southern Etruria, where


cremation predominated, and the other to the south, i.e. inhumations in large storage vessels, i.e. objects with an
Latium Vetus, where inhumation and cremation co- obvious domestic connotation. These vessels were placed
existed, albeit the latter as a minority. For instance, at the horizontally in a grave and contained infants/children in a
Iron Age cemetery of Osteria dell’Osa approximately supine position, which restricted this burial practice to
twenty cremation burials are outnumbered by some five children with a particular height and age (<6y). The
hundred inhumation burials. The majority of the excavators argue that this practice was gender specific
cremations can be dated to the first phase of the cemetery, (boys) (Bietti Sestieri 1992b, 503f), probably given the
in the first phase of the Early Iron Age. They were absence of ornaments, rather than of a generic domestic
invested with domestic symbolism (Van Rossenberg connotation (cf. above). In this second phase, the
2005c, 130), epitomised by the house shape of more than cemetery at Osteria expanded and new burial plots were
half of the urns. Unlike the situation in the Final Bronze laid out, while the old plots remained in use.
Age, in the Early Iron Age infants/children were excluded Significantly, in the first phase, the first pair of burials in
from cremation burials, save two adolescents or young this new area had been an elaborate child burial (7-8y)
adults (17-20y) (Bietti Sestieri 1992b, 563 and 616). In and a structured (re)deposition of a cremation assemblage
comparison with the Final Bronze Age situation that in a grave (Bietti Sestieri 1992b, 634 and 698f), in this
showed an overrepresentation of infants (<6y) followed case associated with the laying-out of a new part of the
by an underrepresentation (or age gap) including adoles- cemetery (cf. child burials in Iron Age cemeteries in
cence (6-18y), the age distribution of young individuals Abruzzo). This element of foundation underscores the
buried in the cemetery of Osteria in the first phase of the domestic connotation and central position of cremations
Early Iron Age seems normal. The age distribution of and child burials as acts of structured deposition in the
child burials dated to this phase is as follows: seventeen cemetery at Osteria. With the expansion of the cemetery
infants (0-5y), eleven children (6-10y), eleven older in the second phase and the rarity of new cremation
children/adolescents (11-15y) and six adolescents/young burials, child burials became a focus in themselves and
adults (16-20y). started to cluster in their own right. In the overall
distribution of the first and second phases of the cemetery
If we take a look at the spatial distribution of cremations (i.e. the first phase of the Early Iron Age) child burials
and child burials in this first phase of the cemetery, both were situated on the reconstructed boundaries between
categories stand out. Half of the cremation burials can be groups of burials that are regarded by the excavators as
found dispersed at the centre of the cemetery and seem to family plots. Rather than at the margins of one group (i.e.
have served as a focus, surrounded as they are by a household or extended family), this would have situated
inhumation burials. The other half make up a cluster in a child burials – as acts of structured deposition with a
relatively open space at the margin of the cemetery that domestic connotation – between groups, and thus at the
was reserved for cremation burials and structured centre of community formation in the context of the
(re)depositions of cremation assemblages, consisting of communal cemetery.
the urn and miniature objects (metalwork and accessory
vessels), placed in graves normally used for inhumation. In the third phase of the cemetery (i.e. the second phase of
Given the apparent significance of the handling of the Early Iron Age), the emphasis in elaborate burials
cremation assemblages, this area of the cemetery can be shifted from infants/children to adolescents, in the form of
regarded as a focus for ritual practices with a domestic so-called weaver (or spinner) burials with large numbers
connotation. Some child burials (<10y) were situated at of ornaments, spindlewhorls and bobbins. On an earlier
the margin of this particular area, but the majority were occasion, I have argued for the conceptual complement-
spatially clustered with the dispersed cremation burials at tarity between “weaver burials” and cremations as acts of
the heart of the cemetery. The paradox of the exclusion of structured deposition with a domestic connotation (Van
children from cremation burials, on the one hand, and the Rossenberg 2005c, 130), but presented these practices as
spatial connection between cremations and child burials, if they were contemporaneous phenomena at Osteria
on the other, highlights that they were equally con- (following the ‘synchronic’ approach of the first three
ceptualised as acts of structured deposition with a phases in Bietti Sestieri 1992b, 491-513). One reason for
domestic connotation in the context of the cemetery. This this mistake is the persuasiveness of stereotypical gender
is reinforced by the fact that elaborate child burials at identities, i.e. male cremations (or “warrior burials”) and
Osteria included ornaments, for which a domestic female “weaver burials”, which are often generalised to
connotation has been argued both in the Final Bronze Age such an extent that the limits of contemporaneity are
and in the Early Iron Age in Abruzzo. Such a long-term stretched (Whitehouse 2001, 83-87). Here it should be
and interregional perspective might argue against the stressed that both practices, one following the other, can
interpretation proposed by the excavators (Bietti Sestieri be regarded as elaborate burials or acts of structured
1992b, 504) that ornaments were gender specific (female) deposition with a domestic connotation (Van Rossenberg
grave goods in infant/child burials, rather than of a 2005c). In this respect, we also have to consider to what
generic domestic connotation. extent the expression of idealised gender identities may
have been confined to the context of burial and was
In the second phase of the cemetery a new type of burial connected with particular age groups. In the cemetery of
for infants/children was introduced, in the form of Osteria “weaver burials” predominantly represented older


children (>12y) and young adults (<25y) (Bietti Sestieri What has been shown, is that the treatment of the
1992b, 504ff). This shows a shift in focus at Osteria in youngest age groups in a distinctive manner at death had a
terms of the elaboration of child burials from younger age long history and can be recognised throughout the Bronze
groups (<12y) in the first phase of the Early Iron Age to Age and Early Iron Age, although the position of child
older age groups (>12y) in the second phase of the Early burials in the cultural landscape changed continuously.
Iron Age, probably in connection with the expression of Whereas in the earlier phases of the Bronze Age
age groups eligible for marriage. Significantly, the infant/child burial was connected with collective places of
decrease in emphasis on infants/children (<12y) coincided burial and ritual practice, with the emergence of
with the emergence of the practice of infant/child burials individual burial traditions in the later phases of the
in the context of settlements at the transition from the Bronze Age special treatment of infants/children in the
Early Iron Age to the Late Iron Age (Bietti Sestieri & De context of cemeteries can be recognised more easily. The
Santis 1985; Modica 1993). latter practices show continuity in the selection of
younger age groups (<6y or <10y) for elaborate burials in
As mentioned in the introduction of this section, the the context of communal cemeteries in the earlier phases
discussion of this category of burials focuses on the of the Iron Age. As such, we should regard child burials
evidence from a number of settlements (i.e. Rome, as an opportunity to express central values in an act of
Ficana, Lavinium and Ardea) in the southern part of Lazio structured deposition. Contrary to the simple notion of
(Bietti Sestieri & De Santis 1985; Modica 1993; Teegen “wealthy child burials” as a reflection of personal status
1997; Roncoroni 2000). In the north, in Southern Etruria, per se, I have argued that child burials were used to
only one child burial has been reported from Tarquinia as articulate domestic with collective identities. In this res-
a putative example of the settlement burial tradition pect, child burials can be regarded as one of the signi-
(Teegen 1997, 238). However, this child (8y) was not ficant locales where social and cultural reproduction took
buried in a settlement context in the second phase of the place, and where we can locate social and cultural change.
Early Iron Age, but in an area that had been in use as a
communal cult place since the end of the Final Bronze
Age (Bonghi Jovino 2005). In the context of ritual Acknowledgments
practices, four neonates were buried in the same plot in
the Late Iron Age (Chiaramonte Treré 1995). This shows First and foremost, I would like to thank Krum Bacvarov
an interesting parallel with the situation in the south of the and Tatiana Mishina for inviting me to present a paper in
region, where the age groups buried in settlement plots the context of their workshop “Babies Reborn: infant/
changed from children (7-12y) at the end of the Early Iron children burials in prehistory”. My participation in the
Age, to neonates and infants (0-5y) in the Late Iron Age UISPP conference at Lisbon was made possible with
(Modica 1993, fig. 8). As at Tarquinia, the plots that were funding by the Leids Universiteits Fonds (LUF) and the
reserved for infant burials in the context of settlements in Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. This paper is
the south, were connected with domestic ritual practice, based on my PhD research “Social reproduction and
given the spatial association with houses. These plots transformation in cultural landscapes in the long term.
provided a communal focus for additional burials and The material conditions of social life in the Bronze Age
other domestic ritual practices, and were in some cases and Early Iron Age of Central Italy” in progress (2003-
institutionalised at a later stage. For instance, the 2007) at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University.
foundation of the sanctuary with domestic connotations at From its inception, this project has been funded partly by
Satricum at the end of the Late Iron Age was spatially and the Royal Dutch Institute at Rome with invaluable one-
conceptually associated with an earlier settlement burial and two-month scholarships on a number of occasions.
plot (Teegen 1997, 240f), possibly similar to the strati- I’d like to thank Krum Bacvarov, John Bintliff, Quentin
graphically more complicated situation of early settle- Bourgeois, Laura Crowley, Marjolijn Kok, Alice Samson
ments in Rome itself (Modica 1993; Roncoroni 2000). and Hanna Stoeger for their comments upon reading
This shows that we should not underestimate the degree drafts of this paper, although not preventing me from
of conceptual continuity in the historical trajectory of making my own mistakes. Finally, I would like to thank
particular ritual practices and places. It may also explain my supervisors John Bintliff and Harry Fokkens (Leiden
why there is an opportunity to prolong the tradition of University), and Peter van Dommelen (University of
early historic Roman attitudes to child burial (Norman Glasgow) for their continuous support.
2002) into the Late, if not Early Iron Age (Modica 1993;
Roncoroni 2000).


REPRODUCTION Castro – VT) campagna di scavo 1996: i resti umani,
in N. Negroni Catacchio (ed.) Preistoria e protostoria
In adopting a long-term approach to child burial in in Etruria. Atti del Quarto Incontro di Studi.
Abruzzo and Lazio, the aim of this article has not been to Manciano-Montalto di Castro-Valentano 12/14
retroject early historic sources back into the Bronze Age. settembre 1997. L’Etruria tra Italia, Europa e mondo


mediterraneo. Ricerche e scavi: 355-357. Milano: COSENTINO, S. (ed.) 2003. Atti della XXXVI Riunione
Centro Studi di Preistoria e Archeologia. Scientifica. Preistoria e protostoria dell’Abruzzo.
ANGLE, M., F. DI GENNARO, A. GUIDI & S. TUSA. Chieti-Celano 27-30 settembre 2001. Firenze: Istituto
2004. La necropoli ad incinerazione di Cavallo Morto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria.
(Anzio, Roma), in D. Cocchi Genick (ed.) L’età del COSENTINO, S., V. D’ERCOLE, A. DE LUIGI & G.
bronzo recente in Italia. Atti del Congresso Nazionale MIELI. 2001a. L’età del Ferro nel Fucino: nuovi dati
di Lido di Camaiore, 26-29 ottobre 2000: 125-140. e puntualizzazioni, in G. Grossi, U. Irti & C. Malandra
Viareggio-Lucca: Mauro Baroni editore. (eds) Il Fucino e le aree limitrofe nell’antichità. Atti
ANGLE, M., A. GIANNI & A. GUIDI 1991/1992. La del II convegno di archeologia in ricordo di Antonio
Grotta dello Sventatoio (S. Angelo Romano, Roma). Maria Radmilli e Giuliano Cremonesi. Museo di
Rassegna di Archeologia 10: 720-721. Preistoria, Celano-Paludi 26/28 novembre 1999: 175-
204. Avezzano: Archeoclub d’Italia-Sezione della
BAILEY, D.W. 2005. Prehistoric figurines: represe- Marsica.
ntation and corporeality in the Neolithic. London &
New York: Routledge. COSENTINO, S., V. D’ERCOLE & G. MIELI. 2001b.
La necropoli di Fossa. Volume I. Le testimonianze più
BASTIANELLI, S. 1939. Allumiere: rinvenimento di antiche (Documenti dell’Abruzzo Antico). Pescara:
tombe arcaiche. Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità (Serie CARSA Edizioni.
6) 15: 45-58.
BIETTI SESTIERI, A.M. 1992a. The Iron Age Costumi funerari in Abruzzo tra l’età del bronzo finale
community of Osteria dell'Osa. A study of socio- e la prima età del ferro, in I Piceni e l’Italia medio-
political development in central Tyrrhenian Italy. adriatica. Atti del XXII Convegno di Studi Etruschi ed
Cambridge: University Press. Italici. Ascoli Piceno – Teramo – Ancona. 9-13 aprile
BIETTI SESTIERI, A.M. (ed.) 1992b. La necropoli 2000: 423-450. Pisa-Roma: Istituti Editoriale e Poli-
laziale di Osteria dell’Osa. Roma: Quasar. grafici Internazionali.
Indicatori archeologici di cambiamento nella struttura Le Caprine, in NEGRONI CATACCHIO (ed.): 203-
delle comunità laziali nell’8o sec. a.C. Dialoghi di 214.
Archeologia (Terza Serie) 3/1: 35-45. D’ERCOLE, V. 1995. Ripresa degli scavi nella necropoli
CASI, C., V. D’ERCOLE, N. NEGRONI CATACCHIO protovillanoviana di Poggio della Pozza ad Allumiere
& F. TRUCCO 1995. Prato di Frabulino (Farnese, (Roma), in in N. Negroni Catcchio (ed.) Preistoria e
VT). Tomba a camera dell’età del bronzo, in N. protostoria in Etruria. Atti del secondo incontro di
Negroni Catcchio (ed.) Preistoria e protostoria in studi. Farnese 21-23 maggio 1993. Tipologia delle
Etruria. Atti del secondo incontro di studi. Farnese necropoli e rituali di deposizione. Ricerche e scavi.
21-23 maggio 1993. Tipologia delle necropoli e rituali Volume 1: 177-186. Milano: Centro Studi di Preistoria
di deposizione. Ricerche e scavi. Volume 1: 81-110. e Archeologia.
Milano: Centro Studi di Preistoria e Archeologia. D’ERCOLE, V. 1998. Poggio della Pozza: Allumiere.
BONGHI JOVINO, M. 2005. Offerte, uomini e dei nel Campagna di scavo 1994, in NEGRONI
“complesso monumentale” di Tarquinia. Dallo scavo CATACCHIO (ed.): 181-192.
all’interpretazione, in M. Bonghi Jovino & F. Chiesa D’ERCOLE, V. 2001. La necropoli delle Paludi di Celano
(eds) Offerte dal regno vegetale e dal regno animale nel Fucino, in G. Colonna (ed.) Eroi e regine: Piceni
nelle manifestazioni del sacro. Atti dell’incontro di popolo d’Europa: 43-44. Roma: Edizioni De Luca.
studio Milano 26-27 giugno 2003 (Tarchna. Supple-
mento; 1): 73-89. Roma: L’Erma di Bretschneider.
Alcune riflessioni sulle necropoli protostoriche
CHIARAMONTE TRERÉ, C. 1995. Seppellimenti in dell’Abruzzo interno appenninico: il caso di Bazzano
abitato: il caso di Tarquinia, in N. Negroni Catcchio a L’Aquila, in COSENTINO (ed.): 533-547.
(ed.) Preistoria e protostoria in Etruria. Atti del
D’ERCOLE, V. & B. GRASSI. 2000. Necropoli proto-
secondo incontro di studi. Farnese 21-23 maggio
storiche abruzzesi a sud della Salaria, in E. Catani &
1993. Tipologia delle necropoli e rituali di
G. Paci (eds) La Salaria in età antica. Atti del
deposizione. Ricerche e scavi. Volume 1: 241-248.
Convegno di studi, Ascoli Piceno – Offida – Rieti, 2-4
Milano: Centro Studi di Preistoria e Archeologia.
ottobre 1997 (Ichnia. Serie Seconda; 1): 193-265.
COCCHI GENICK, D. 1998. L’antica età del bronzo Roma: L’Erma di Bretschneider.
nell’Italia centrale. Profilo di un’epoca e di un’appro-
DI GENNARO, F. & A. GUIDI. 2000. Il Bronzo Finale
priata strategia metodologica. Firenze: Octavo/Franco
dell’Italia centrale. Considerazioni e prospettive di
Cantini Editore. indagine, in M. Harari & M. Pearce (eds) Il Proto-
COCCHI GENICK, D. 2002. Grotta Nuova: la prima villanoviano al di qua e al di là dell’Appennino. Atti
unità culturale attorno all’Etruria protostorica. della giornata di studio. Pavia, Collegio Ghislieri, 17
Viareggio-Lucca: Mauro Baroni Editore. giugno 1995: 99-131. Como: Edizioni New Press.


DOLFINI, A. 2006. Embodied inequalities: burial and RECCHIA, G. 2003. Una riconsiderazione sull’uso delle
social differentiation in Copper Age Central Italy. strutture protoappenniniche di Torre dei Passeri,
Archaeological Review from Cambridge 21(2): 58-77. Pescara, in COSENTINO (ed.): 329-342.
FUGAZZOLA DELPINO, M.A. 1975. Ripostigli “proto- RITTATORE, F. 1951a. Scoperte di età eneolitica e del
villanoviani” dell’Italia peninsulare, in F. Rittatore bronzo nella Maremma tosco-laziale. Rivista di
Vonwiller & G. Fogolari (eds) Popoli e civiltà Scienze Preistoriche 6: 3-33.
dell’Italia antica. Volume quarto: 43-49, 57-60.
RITTATORE, F. 1951b. Nuove scoperte dell’età del
Roma: Biblioteca di Storia Patria.
bronzo lungo la valle del fiume Fiora. Rivista di
FUGAZZOLA DELPINO, M.A. & E. PELLEGRINI. Scienze Preistoriche 6: 151-175.
1999. Il complesso cultuale “campaniforme” di Fosso
RONCORONI, P. 2000. Kindergräber in früheisenzeit-
Conicchio (Viterbo). Bullettino di Paletnologia
lichen Siedlungen Latiums. Ursprung des römischen
Italiana 90: 61-159.
Laren- und Penatenkultes? Mitteilungen der Berliner
GRIFONI CREMONESI, R. 1973. Prime ricerche nel Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und
villaggio dell’età del bronzo di Collelongo nel Fucino. Urgeschichte 21: 139-155.
Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche 28: 495-524.
SAVINI, V. & V. TORRIERI. 2003. Un nuovo gruppo di
GUIDI, A. 1981. Nuovi rinvenimenti in siti del passaggio tombe della necropoli di La Cona (Teramo), in
alla media età del bronzo, in S. Quilici Gigli (ed.) COSENTINO (ed.): 509-521.
Archeologia Laziale IV. Quarto incontro di studio del
Comitato per l’Archeologia Laziale (Quaderni del TEEGEN, W.-R. 1997. Mitttelitalienische Kindergräber
Centro di Studio per l’Archeologia etrusco-italica; 5): des 9. und 8. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. und ihre
47-55. Roma: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. Aussagemöglichkeiten - ein Arbeitsbericht, in K.-F.
Rittershofer (ed.) Demographie der Bronzezeit.
GUIDI, A. 1991/1992. Recenti ritrovamenti in grotta nel Paläodemographie - Möglichkeiten und Grenzen.
Lazio: un riesame critico del problema dell’utiliz- West- und Süddeutscher Verband für Altertumsforsch-
zazione delle cavità naturali. Rassegna di Archeologia ung Jahrestagungen vom 24.-25. Mai 1988 in Ettlin-
10: 427-437. gen und vom 16.-21. Mai 1989 in Frankfurt a. M. -
MALLEGNI, F. & D. RONCO. 1996. I reperti scheletrici Kolloquium der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bronzezeit
umani di Grotta S. Angelo, in T. Di Fraia & R. Grifoni (Internationale Archäologie; 36): 238-257. Espel-
Cremonesi (eds) La Grotta Sant’Angelo sulla kamp: Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH.
Montagna dei Fiori (Teramo). Le testimonianze dal
Neolitico all’Età del Bronzo e il problema delle
necropoli di Monte Tosto Alto: lo scavo 1997, in N.
frequentazioni cultuali in grotta (Collana di Studi
Negroni Catacchio (ed.) 2000. Preistoria e protostoria
Paletnologici; 6): 263-275. Pisa-Roma: Istituti
in Etruria. Atti del Quarto Incontro di Studi.
Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali.
Manciano-Montalto di Castro-Valentano 12/14
McHUGH, F. 1999. Theoretical and quantitative settembre 1997. L’Etruria tra Italia, Europa e mondo
approaches to the study of mortuary practice (BAR mediterraneo. Ricerche e scavi: 483-494. Milano:
International Series; 785). Oxford: Archaeopress. Centro Studi di Preistoria e Archeologia.
MODICA, S. 1993. Sepolture infantili nel Lazio proto- VAN ROSSENBERG, E. 2005a. War and domestic peace
storico. Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica in the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age of Abruzzo
Comunale di Roma 95: 7-18. (Central Italy). Social reproduction and cultural
NEGRONI CATACCHIO, N. (ed.) 1998. Protovillano- landscapes as a starting-point for the construction of
viani e/o Protoetruschi. Ricerche e scavi. Atti del mentalités, in D. Hofmann, J. Mills & A. Cochrane
Terzo Incontro di Studi. Manciano-Farnese 12/14 (eds) Elements of being: mentalities, identities and
maggio 1995. Firenze: Octavo. movements (British Archaeological Reports.
International Series; 1437): 77-85. Oxford: Archaeo-
NORMAN, N.J. 2002. Death and burial of Roman
children: the case of the Yasmina cemetery at Carth-
age – Part I, setting the stage. Mortality 7(3): 302-323. VAN ROSSENBERG, E. 2005b. Between households
and communities. Layers of social life in the later
ÖSTENBERG, C.E. 1967. Luni sul Mignone e problemi
Bronze Age and Early Iron Age of Central Italy, in P.
della preistoria d’Italia (Acta Instituti Romani Regni
Attema, A. Nijboer & A. Zifferero (eds) Papers in
Sueciae, Series in 4; 25). Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup.
Italian archaeology VI: Communities and settlements
PACCIARELLI, M. 2000. Dal villaggio alla città. La from the Neolithic to the Early Medieval period.
svolta protourbana del 1000 a.C. nell’Italia tirrenica Proceedings of the 6th Conference of Italian
(Grandi contesti e problemi della Protostoria italiana; Archaeology held at the University of Groningen,
4). Firenze: All’Insegna del Giglio. Groningen Institute of Archaeology, the Netherlands,
PERONI, R. 1960. Allumiere: scavo di tombe in località April 15-17, 2003 (British Archaeological Reports.
“La Pozza”. Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità (Serie International Series; 1452-I): 84-91. Oxford:
VIII) 14: 341-362. Archaeopress.


VAN ROSSENBERG, E. 2005c. Open endings at Osteria International Series; 1391): 129-132. Oxford:
dell’Osa (Lazio). Exploring domestic aspects of Archaeopress.
funerary contexts in the Early Iron Age of Central WHITEHOUSE, R.D. 2001. Exploring gender in pre-
Italy, in C. Briault, J. Green, A. Kaldelis & A. historic Italy. Papers of the Britisch School at Rome
Stellatou (eds) SOMA 2003. Symposium on Mediter- 69: 49-96.
ranean Archaeology (British Archaeological Reports.

Eileen M. MURPHY
Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland,

Abstract: The cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg is located in the Autonomous Republic of Tuva in south Siberia. The paper will focus
on information derived from a group of 3rd and 2nd centuries BC burials, attributed to the Scythian period, who were semi-nomadic
pastoralists. An overview of certain findings derived from the osteoarchaeological analysis and of relevance to subadults will be
provided. The adoption of a biocultural approach has enabled this information to be married with relevant archaeological and
historical data. The paper will conclude by suggesting how a better understanding of prehistoric Eurasian nomadic children might
be gained through the use of modern anthropological research in the area today.
Keywords: Iron Age, Siberia, osteoarchaeology, biocultural, ethnography

Résumé: Le complexe funéraire d’Aymyrlyg est situé en République Autonome de Tuva en Sibérie du Sud. L’article se concentre sur
les données obtenues à partir d’un groupe de sépultures de pastoralistes semi-nomades du 3ème et 2ème siècle avant J.-C., attribué à la
période Scythienne. Une vue d’ensemble de certaines des trouvailles résultant de l’analyse ostéo-archéologique, et concernant le
groupe juvénile, est fournie. L’adoption d’une approche bioculturelle a permis l’association de ces résultats avec de pértinentes
données archéologiques et historiques. L’article conclu en suggérant comment on peut obtenir aujourd’hui, grâce à la recherche
anthropologique moderne dans la region, une meilleure compréhension des enfants préhistoriques nomades d’Eurasie.
Mots clefs: Age du Fer, Sibérie, ostéo-archéologie, bioculturel, ethnographie

INTRODUCTION The group under study derived from the Scythian period
and form part of the broader Scythian World. This term is
The paper will discuss findings derived from a study of a applied to a group of archaeological cultures dating from
population of 809 Scythian period individuals that proved approximately the 7th to the 2nd centuries BC and located
to include the remains of 171 subadults (i.e. those under in the steppes, forest-steppes, foothills and mountains of
approximately 17 years of age)1. The results obtained the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the
during this research programme have provided evidence northern part of China (Clenova 1994, 499; Yablonsky
for a wide variety of palaeopathological lesions, including 2000). The culture of the Scythian World in Tuva is
those characteristic of developmental defects, infection, called the Uyuk Culture, and it would have been bordered
metabolic disease and traumatic injuries. A biocultural by the Pazyryk Culture to the west and the Tagar Culture
approach has been followed which has enabled the to the north (Mandelshtam 1992, 179).
information derived from the human skeletal remains to
be married with archaeological and historical data related The material culture of the Eurasian steppe nomads and
to this culture. A summary of some of the main findings semi-nomads was markedly similar, as too were the
of the osteoarchaeological analysis of relevance to political and economic practices which they each appear
children will be provided (a more detailed discussion of to have followed (Abetekov & Yusopov 1994, 23). The
the research can be found in Murphy 1998). This work common material culture of the Scythian World is known
has enabled many insights to be gained concerned the as the Scythian Triad and consists of weapons, horse
health and lifestyle of the subadults, and the attitudes harnesses, and objects decorated in the Animal Style of
shown towards them by their adult counterparts. The final artwork (Moskova 1994, 231). Other components of the
section of the paper will discuss how we might gain a Scythian World (such as dwellings, burial customs,
more holistic understanding of the children from pre- ceramics and adornments) differ considerably, however,
historic Eurasian steppe nomadic populations through between the various cultures. Consequently, this is why it
recourse to modern ethnographic evidence. is not possible to envisage a single Scythian Culture but
rather a variety of cultures of the Scythian World
It is first necessary to provide an overview of the archaeo- (Clenova 1994, 500-501; Yablonsky 2000).
logical context to explain who was buried at Aymrylyg.
Artefacts discovered in Tuva’s Scythian period funerary
The following age-at-death categories are used throughout the text: monuments indicate that the economy of these highland-
infant (0-2 years); child (2-6 years); juvenile (6-12 years); adolescent steppe peoples was based upon semi-nomadic pastoralism
(12-17 years). Age-at-death determinations were made on the basis of
dental calcification (Moorrees et al. 1963; Smith 1991), dental eruption augmented with land-cultivation, hunting and gathering
(Ubelaker 1989, 64), epiphyseal fusion (Ferembach et al. 1980, 530-2; (Murphy 2003a, 9-10). It is generally accepted that steppe
Ubelaker 1989, 75) and diaphyseal lengths of the long bones (Ubelaker nomads lived in portable felt tents known as yurts. The
1989, 70-1). Where possible, most emphasis was placed on the age skilled carving and building techniques evident in the
determinations derived from the more reliable dental calcification and
development methods (see Scheuer & Black 2000, 13 for further remains of their burial structures – log house tombs and
discussion). stone cists – suggest, however, that permanent buildings


Fig. 18.1. Map showing the location of the cemetery of Aymyrlyg, Tuva, south Siberia

may also have been used, possibly at the site of their These communal tombs are generally thought to have
winter camps. The important role that warfare played in been family tombs. Large and small stone cists of
society is betrayed by the great variety of weaponry Scythian period date were also commonly encountered at
contained within the tombs of the Uyuk Culture (Murphy Aymyrlyg (Fig. 18.2). Interestingly, the majority of
2003a, 11-12). smaller cists have been found to contain the remains of
subadults (Mandelshtam 1983, 33). Although a detailed
statistical analysis of Scythian period mortuary practice at
THE CEMETERY OF AYMYRLYG Aymyrlyg has not been undertaken, a variety of funerary
rites appear to have been applied to subadults, with some
The cemetery complex of Aymyrlyg is located in the having been buried within communal log house tombs,
Ulug-Khemski region of the Autonomous Republic of while others were interred individually within the smaller
Tuva in south Siberia (Fig. 18.1). The burials originated cists.
from two main groups, with the majority of earlier
interments dating to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, and In terms of the grave goods recovered from the burials at
attributed to the Scythian period. The burial ground was Aymyrlyg a wide variety of weaponry (daggers, pointed
excavated between 1968 and 1984 by archaeologists from axes, arrowheads), horse accoutrements (bits, cheek
the Sayano-Tuvinskaya Expedition Team of the Institute pieces, bridles), utilitarian tools (knives, awls, needles),
for the History of Material Culture in St. Petersburg. The pottery and wooden vessels, foodstuffs (joints of mutton,
excavations were directed by Dr. A. M. Mandelshtam spoons in empty bowls), items of clothing (scraps of
during the period between 1968 and 1978, and the leather, fur, woollen fabric), jewellery (belts and belt
research programme then continued under Dr. E. U. buckles, earrings, bracelets, pendants), personal items
Stambulnik until the mid-1980s. (pins, combs, bronze mirrors) and possible ritual objects
(two handled bronze pots, birch bark portraits) have been
The interior structure of the Scythian period tombs most recovered. No attempt has yet been made to associate the
frequently encountered at Aymyrlyg were rectangular log artefacts with individuals of different age and/or sex.
house tombs. A considerable number of individuals could Indeed, it would be difficult to undertake a valid statistical
be buried within a log house tomb, with as many as 15 analysis of the artefacts associated with specific skeletons
skeletons being recovered from individual examples. within the log house tombs due to their communal nature.


Fig. 18.2. (a) Infant buried within a stone cist of unknown context from Aymyrlyg, (b) Log House Tomb X. 1 from
Aymyrlyg that contained the remains of at least two adults, both of whom displayed weapon trauma, as well as at least
three subadults. One of the subadults appears to have been an infant whose remains were placed in the bottom left
corner of the tomb and it is considered possible that the baby’s cranium may also display weapon trauma (Both images
are courtesy of the Photographic Archive of the Institute for the History of Material Culture, St. Petersburg)

A perusal of the site archive indicates that subadults were enclosed by felt walls. The wagons were divided into two
buried with a variety of grave goods, however, including or three sections and built like houses, thereby providing
pots and wooden vessels. Some subadults were associated protection against rain, snow and wind. The Scythian
with a rich repertoire of items; a 6-7 year old juvenile females lived in the wagons, while the males rode on
recovered from Log House II. 8 (Sk. 4), for example, was horseback followed by their herds. They would stay in
associated with an iron pin, a bead, three gold plates, a one spot and only moved on when there was no longer
wooden vessel, a clay jar, gold earrings, a bronze knife, a enough grass to feed their herds (Chadwick & Mann
bronze awl and a bronze mirror in a leather bag. Such a 1978, 163).
finding may indicate that Scythian period subadults could
hold a relatively high status position in society. Pseudo-Hippocrates stated that the Scythians were the
least prolific of all races, and attributed this to the harsh
environment in which they lived. The people were all of
HISTORICAL SOURCES similar physique since they ate the same sorts of food,
wore the same clothes, breathed moist thick air, drank
The main historical sources which provide an insight into water from the snow and ice and did no hard work. Both
the lifestyles of the Scythian tribes are the Histories of males and females were described as being fat and hair-
Herodotus and the Pseudo-Hippocratic Writings by an less, with the two sexes resembling one another (Chad-
unknown Greek doctor. Herodotus, writing in the 5th wick & Mann 1978, 164). Pseudo-Hippocrates was of the
century BC, devoted Book IV of his Histories to discussing opinion they were flabby and stout because they were not
the Scythians, while the Pseudo-Hippocratic Writings wrapped in swaddling clothes as infants and were not
include some interesting, and rather unflattering, views on accustomed to horse-riding when they were children. The
the health of the Scythian populations in the treatise on writer also thought that they were too inactive as children,
Airs, Waters, Places, probably written in the second half of with the male children spending most of their time sitting
the 5th century BC. It is generally considered, however, in wagons, while the girls were described as being
that the descriptions of these authors were biased by alien ‘amazingly flabby and podgy’. The Scythian people also
sensitivities to the nomadic way of life (Rolle 1989, 54). had ruddy complexions because of the cold environment,
Nevertheless, Herodotus’ work is considered to provide which caused their fair skins to become reddened and
the most informative descriptions of the non-literate socie- burned (Chadwick & Mann 1978, 164-165).
ties of his time. There has been considerable disagreement
over the reliability of his account but many 20th century It is clearly evident that the historical sources generally
archaeological discoveries have generally corroborated remain silent when it comes to the children of Iron Age
with his writings, especially his descriptions of the burial Eurasia, and the nature of their role within society largely
rites associated with the death of a ‘Royal Scythian’ and remains invisible within these accounts. The next section
his accounts of female warriors (Murphy 2004). of the paper will provide an overview of some of the main
lines of osteological and palaeopathological evidence
Both of the above accounts indicate that the Scythians from Aymyrlyg to see what insights this approach can
were nomadic and lived in wagons drawn by oxen and provide about the children of Scythian period Tuva.


DEVELOPMENTAL DEFECTS individuals were born and would in all likelihood have
affected them throughout their childhood.
Developmental defects are relatively common in modern
populations, occurring with a frequency of between 1% A 25-35 year old probable male (i), and a 35-45 year old
and 5% in all live births. The defects occur with even probable female (iv) from Log House Tomb XXIII. 13
greater frequencies in stillbirths and natural abortions, and displayed hypoplastic mandibles and may have had
are one of the highest causes of neonatal and infant death abnormal facial appearances. The hypoplasia would pro-
(Kennedy 1967, 1). The causes of developmental defects bably not, however, have caused major disability apart
in humans are complex. They may occur as a result of from eventual degenerative joint disease of the temporo-
specific dominant or recessive genes, arise sporadically or mandibular joints. A 17-25 year old possible female (D. 5.
follow a familial tendency (Fraser 1959, 97-99). In Sk. 6) and a 25-35 year old female (VI. 10. Sk. 1)
addition, environmental factors such as maternal dietary displayed developmental dysplasia and congenital dislo-
deficiencies (e.g. hypovitaminosis A and lack of cation of the hip. Both individuals would have had
riboflavin) and excesses (e.g. a fatty diet) during early abnormal gaits, and less efficient locomotory powers than
pregnancy can result in the occurrence of developmental most unaffected members of society. Three individuals
defects (Seller 1987, 227). It is generally considered that (E. 1, 25-35 year old male; VII. B/E, 35-45 year old male;
the majority of defects arise from complex interactions XXIII. 17, 35-45 year old female) with possible slipped
between genetic predispositions and subtle factors in the femoral capital epiphyses may also have had gait
intrauterine environment (Fraser 1959, 108). disturbances and less powerful locomotory capabilities
relative to the unaffected members of society.
Minor anomalies
Three individuals were identified as having had poly-
Many Scythian period individuals displayed minor tropic defects (i.e.