How did hunter-gatherers respond to the death? The development of burial rites between Baltic and the Urals in the Later Stone Age
Since handling of death strongly affects almost every side of human society’s life, burial remains, as only available for archaeologists source are esteemed to be an essential point in our understanding of past societies’ worldview (Becker 1973).
During the XXth century, over 80 Late Stone Age burial sites and single graves were excavated on the vast territory between Baltic and the Urals. Nevertheless, just material from some of them was thoroughly analyzed, published and now is available for the scientific society worldwide (e.g., Zvejnieki, Minino II, Yuzhnyj Olenij Ostrov) (Zagorskis 1987; Wood et al. 2013; Price, Jacobs 1989). Mostly, the collections either are staying kept without any archaeological identification or were investigated by applying only traditional archaeological methods as classification and ethnographic analogy.
Within my research, I am planning to stay focused on the hunter-gatherer community of the forest zone from 9500-2700 cal. BC. Regarding more precise geographical scale of investigation, I will consider burial sites and single burials which are situated on the territory framed of Lower Volga region on the south, Kola peninsula on the north and the Urals on the east. Even though I am also going to attract published burial material from eastern Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belorussia, the primary attention will be paid to burial sites located in Russian territory.
In general, there is no much information about mortuary sites from the western part of Russia. Besides burials’ cultural attribution, frequently we are not aware of the reasons for a variable range of body positioning, orientation, burial inventory as well as the essence of fireplaces, grounds, pits, ‘hoards’ and animal burials, which probably linked with graves and might have played an equally important role in a ritual performance.
Apparently, one of the most topical investigations on forest hunter-gatherer burial rites was conducted recently by Mari Tõrv (Tõrv 2016). This work provides results of the fruitful application of up-to-date archaeological and interdisciplinary approaches to the Later Stone Age Estonian burial material. Since the material included in Mari Torv’s research is closely related to data I am going to deal with during the current study, this work is treated by me as the most illustrative pattern for the thesis.
The only research on collecting burials’ data was undertaken by E. Kostyleva and A. Utkin and provides the fullest overview of burial sites from the central part of Russian plain (Kostyleva, Utkin 2010). However, this work is mostly based on the field recordings and do not include the rest funerary sites located between Baltic and the Urals. So meanwhile the lack of more precise data about such rare and crucial archaeological objects, as burials, complicates conducting further research projects on origins and development of archaeological cultures, or interactions between ancient societies in the Later Stone Age.
While carrying out the research, to systematize data and to detect distinctive features of burial objects, I will apply traditional archaeological methods – classification, typology and spatial analysis - as well as interdisciplinary approaches provided by zooarchaeology and archaeoethnology. Also, in collaboration with scholars in other research fields AMS C14 dating, osteological and chemical analyses will be undertaken so that we could get more reliable and detailed view both on time depth and the process of dead body disposal. To interpret received data I will address to the methodology of structuralism, since, in my opinion, this school achieved clearer view of ritual’s nature (Gennep 2004, Bell 2009). Moreover, I am planning to apply an approach, which is known in mortuary archaeology as archaeothanatology (Gligor 2014, Stutz 2008).
2015 - 2017
MA in Archaeology, History faculty, Lomonosov Moscow State University. (“Ritual deposits of Volosovo culture”, supervisors – Prof. Dr. hab. Natalya B. Leonova, PhD Ekaterina Kashina).
2011 - 2015
BA in Archaeology, History faculty, Saint-Petersburg State University. (“Stone industry of Astrakhancevskoe settlement”, supervisors – senior lecturer Anton Murashkin, PhD Evgeniy Girya; diploma’s reviewer – PhD Andrey Mazurkevich).
excavation campaign. Zaraysk Archaeological Expedition, Moscow Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Science, director – Ph. D. Sergey Lev. Russia, Moscow district, Zaraysk site, the Upper Paleolithic period.
excavation campaign. Don Archaeological Expedition, Lomonosov Moscow State University and The State Historical Museum, director – Prof. Dr. Hab. Natalia B. Leonova. Russia, Rostov district, Kamennaya Balka site, the Upper Paleolithic period.
excavation campaign. Quedlinburg archaeological Expedition, The Freie Universität Berlin, The Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, director - Prof. Dr. Wolfram Schier. Germany, Sachsen-Anhalt, Quedlinburg site, The Late Stone Age.
excavation campaign. Kuban archaeological Expedition, The State Hermitage Museum, director – PhD Sergey Ostashinskiy. Russia, Adygea, Meshoko site, the Early Metal Age – the Early Bronze Age.
excavation campaign. Kama Archaeological and Ethnological Expedition, Perm State Humanitarian-Pedagogical University, director - PhD, associate professor Evgeniya L. Lychagina. Russia, Perm district, Chashkinskoe Ozero site, the Final Stone Age.
2012 - 2014
excavation campaign. Kola Archaeological Expedition, Saint-Petersburg Institute for the History of Material culture, director - PhD Vladimir Shumkin. Russia, Murmansk district, Peryaarvi site, the Early Metal Age.
Kostyleva E., Khramtsova A., Kashina E., Utkin A. Ритуальные «клады» волосовской культуры: новые исследования старых коллекций. (Volosovo ritual “hoards”: new investigations of old archaeological collections). // Barnaul. Published (the digital publication), in Russian.
Khramtsova A., Использование окаменелостей древним населением центральной части Русской равнины в эпохи неолита и бронзы (к постановке вопроса) (The Use of Fossils by the Inhabitants of Russian Plain in the Neolithic and Bronze Age) // Topical Archaeology 3: New Interpretation of Archaeological Data. The Theses of Young Scholars’ International Scientific Conference. Saint-Petersburg. P. 136-142. Published, in Russian.
Khramtsova A., К вопросу о каменной индустрии энеолита Прикамья (по материалам Астраханцевского поселения на оз.Грязном) (“To the question of Eneolithic stone-tool industry of Kama River basin (on the materials of Astrakhancevskoe settlement, Gryaznoe Lake shore)”) // Bolgar International Field School: The Conference‘s Reports. Kazan-Bolgar. P. 97-108. Published, in Russian.
Kashina E., Khramtsova A., Поселение Володары (Нижегородская обл.): к проблеме изучения артефактов в ритуальных «кладах» лесного энеолита Восточной Европы (Volodary settlement (Nizhniy Novgorod district): to the question of investigation of artifacts from ritual “deposits” of the Eastern European forest zone Late Stone Age) // Archaeology of ritual sites in Russia: the collected theses of reports made at the scientific archaeological conference with international participation. Solovki: ОАО «Solombalskaya typography. » P. 30-33. Published, in Russian.