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

NEW DATA OF FUNERAL CUSTOMS AND BURIALS OF BRONZE AGE REZNES CEMETERY IN LATVIA; pp. 3–31

Full article in PDF format | 10.3176/arch.2021.1.01

Authors
Andrejs Vasks, Gunita Zariņa, Dardega Legzdiņa, Eduards Plankājs

Abstract

The Bronze Age barrow cemetery in Reznes was located on the right bank of the River Daugava on a paleoisland. In total, eight barrows have been recorded in the cemetery. Archaeological excavations took place in the 1930s, led by E. Šturms, and in the 1950s and 1960s, led by J. Graudonis. Altogether, seven barrows have been excavated. Several barrows had secondary burials from the Late Iron Age and the historical period, thus complicating archaeological analysis of this already complex archaeological site. Both Šturms and Graudonis archaeologically dated the cemetery from 1200 to 600 BC. The inhumation layers at the base of the barrow were considered to be the oldest, chronologically followed by cremations. But the youngest were considered to be the burials in stone cists. However, 14C dates show that the Reznes barrow cemetery was established earlier – in the middle of the 14th century BC – and was used until the 6th century BC. The chronological sequence of the burial types is revisited as well, as the 14C dates show parallel use of all three types throughout the active use of the cemetery. The differing types of burials might have been determined by the social position of the deceased in society. The anthropological analysis of inhumations was limited due to the very poor preservation of the bones. Only occasionally was it possible to distinguish between adults and sub-adults, but more detailed analysis was impossible. Cremation skeletal material, on the other hand, shows that individuals belonging to all age groups were cremated – adults, juveniles and children. Some cremation pits consist of more than one individual, and in one case – at least 16 different individuals. In addition to the 14C dating, carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis of collagen were carried out, when possible. Based on previously published isotopic data, different food groups and their contribution to Reznes humans’ diets are discussed, arriving to a conclusion that contrary to general suggestions of millet consumption during the Bronze Age, Reznes humans’ isotopic data does not confirm that. Distinction between terrestrial and aquatic protein sources is complicated by the highly variable Daugava River isotopic ecology, nonetheless, some dietary trends can be distinguished that slightly correlate with 14C dates. However, aquatic reservoir effects in human collagen 14C dates is still an open question and exceeds the limits of this study. 


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