Friday, 17 May 2013

Grave Concerns: Iron Age

The Grave Concerns session looked at Iron Age burial customs in Europe and Britain. Generally not a lot to go on. Howver, the Arras culture, with its links to Gaul, gave us an excuse to look at some nice chariot burials, especially Wetwang:
The Arras culture is loosely associated with the Parisi of pre-Roman Britain with similarities with the La Tene in Europe. The burials are of chariots under mounds surrounded by a square enclosure ditch. The bodies are crouched (extended in Europe) and the chariots disassembled. The burial goods are British in style, not continental, so indicates that we do not have an incoming population but locals using continental style burial. 

We also looked at the chariot burials of Sintashta-Petrova in Russia from c.2000 BC:
 and the later chariot burials of China, 1200 BC, at Hougang, Henan province:

In the north of China, in the Tarim Basin in present day Xinjiang, we took the example of the dessicated bodies called The Mummies of Urumchi. The earliest are from 1800 BC and are of Europoid physical type, which can be seen in this picture of the 'Charchan Man':
 The 'Hami Mummy' had red hair:

Of course, we couldn't not look at the example of a body from this period preserved by being in anerobic conditions - Tolland Man:

Generally, burial in the Iron Age is lacking, with most parts of Britain perhaps treating the dead by not burying them in a grave, with some examples that are found being in pits, postholes or ditches. In Cornwall they buried some people in cist graves. With their emphasis on the head as the seat of the soul, did Iron Age people not care about the body?

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