Balabanova M.A., Pererva E.V. Special Rituals, Rites and Customs of Treatment of Human Bodies (A Case Study of Sarmatian Cultures) (in english)

 
Mariya A. Balabanova, Doctor of Sciences (History), Professor, Department of Russian and Foreign History, Archaeology, Volgograd State University, Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1565-474X
Evgeniy V. Pererva, Candidate of Sciences (History), Head of the Department of Science, Volgograd Institute of Management, Branch of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Gagarina St., 8, 400015 Volgograd, Russian Federation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8285-4461
 

 
Abstract. This article presents characteristics of special rituals, rites and customs identified in Sarmatian cultures of Eastern Europe. For example, a group of prone burials of the Late Sarmatian time was distinguished in the course of the research. As shown by the comparative historical analysis of the prone burials, this society differed from other synchronous groups of the population in the relatively mass nature of such burials. Analysing the details of the burial rite does not provide an unambiguous explanation of the motivation of prone burials. Most likely human sacrifices and ritual killing of the elderly and old people were possible there, and such burials could be associated with harmfulness of the dead. In addition to this rite, a group of burials with the observed post-mortem and antemortem rites in relation to the head / skull was distinguished. First, this is decapitation and performance of certain rites with the head / skull. After this the skull was either placed in the burial or kept with the people (burials of postcranial skeletons). Second, the skull could be placed in a separate grave (partial burials). Third, after separation the skull could be subject to trepanation, which was a ritual function. Intravital trepanation was carried out for medicinal purposes. The rare rite of scalping can be attributed to military customs. Since the frequency of occurrence of special rites in relation to the skull and head in Sarmatian cultures is small, they could be connected either with the antemortem status or with the circumstances surrounding the death of a person. The most common practice was the custom of deliberate deformation of the head, which performed both utilitarian and symbolic functions.
Key words: rite, ritual, custom, custom of artificial deformation of the head, buried body position, decapitation, skeleton, skull.
Citation. Balabanova M.A., Pererva E.V., 2019. Special Rituals, Rites and Customs of Treatment of Human Bodies (A Case Study of Sarmatian Cultures). The Lower Volga Archaeological Bulletin, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 125-144. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/nav.jvolsu.2019.2.8
 
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Special Rituals, Rites and Customs of Treatment of Human Bodies (A Case Study of Sarmatian Cultures)  by M.A. Balabanova, E.V. Pererva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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