Ancient Burial Mounds as a Symbolic System

Keywords: burial mound, sanctuary, sacred space, Eneolithic, Bronze Age

Abstract

Analysis of early dates and stratigraphy of burial mound complexes (the second half of the V millennium BC) led to the conclusion, that they are not directly related to the burial embankment, but relate to complex monumental structures — sanctuaries. The sanctuaries preceded the burial mounds in chronological aspect, and they functioned for a long time without creating an embankment above them. The part of sanctuaries had astronomical reference points and were connected to calendar-zodiac symbolism. Sometimes burials were carried out on the territory of sanctuaries; these burials had sacral nature. These were flat burials and the mound above them were not erected.

Burial mounds above the sanctuaries began to appear after burials of later epochs were carried out in sacral places (not earlier than 38/37 BC.). These mounds erroneously are associated with flat burials or ground sanctuaries. The dating of burial mounds by the dating of sacral flat burials (or by the dating of «pillar sanctuaries») mistakenly depreciated the dating of appearance of the first mounds in the Steppe Black Sea region and Transcaucasia.

The separation of these complexes in time and space (the flat ground sanctuary and the burial mound itself) allowed drawing conclusions about the existence of this sanctuaries in 45—40 BC. The burial mounds appear later, their installation in the place of sanctuaries is connected with the sacral nature of the place. Throughout Europe, barrows appear almost simultaneously, in 38/37 BC, although in different cultures. It is possible to assume the Central European and Lower Danube influence on the formation of ideological ideas of the Steppe population. In particular, the phenomenon of sanctuaries of the Middle Eneolithic may have originated under Central European influence. It obviously had structural similarities with other complexes built in accordance with the movement of the celestial luminaries in the late Neolithic of Central and Atlantic Europe. The appearance of sanctuaries can be attributed to the circle of archaeological evidence of the interaction between the world of early farmers of Southeast and Central Europe and the "steppe" world of the pastoralists. The barrows of the Black Sea and Caucasian steppe are synchronous with European burial mounds, and their ancientization and equation with the dating of sanctuaries is erroneous.

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2021-03-23
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