ESTONIAN ACADEMY
PUBLISHERS
eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
PUBLISHED
SINCE 1997
 
Archaeology cover
Estonian Journal of Archaeology
ISSN 1736-7484 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2933 (Print)

SOME REMARKS ON THE ORIENTATION OF THE DEAD: EXAMPLES FROM TWO EAST LITHUANIAN BARROW CEMETERIES; pp. 38–56

Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/arch.2013.1.03

Author
Laurynas Kurila

Abstract

Two east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries, Baliuliai and Peršaukštis Kasčiukai II, which date to the mid-5th century, are distinguished by a specific pattern of burial orientation. The head appears to generally lie to the west and northwest, which is entirely typical of east Lithuanian barrows. But a closer inspection shows an exceptional feature, i.e. the alignment of the deceased towards a single focal point near the cemetery. The present paper seeks to discuss if this spatial organization was intentional, and if so, what significance the focal point possessed and what views of the afterlife and social objectives might lie behind this mortuary treatment. The grave orientation in both cemeteries is examined, with a certain amount of criticism, in the light of the chronological and territorial contexts. The paper proposes a hypothesis that burial direction is a form of symbolic communication between the living and the dead as well as among the dead within a certain internment area. It suggests that an ancestral tradition was established and maintained through this grave orientation. And it also examines the astronomical framework of the burial directions.


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