Cremated Burial of the Middle of the 1st Millennium AD in Zhytomyr Polissia

Keywords: Zhytomyr Region, Zherev River, Perehorka, multi-layered archaeological site, cremation, bone comb, glass goblet, double-glazed glass, late Roman time

Abstract

In the autumn of 2020, the Narodychi unit of the expedition of Protective Archaeology Service of Ukraine of the Institute of Archaeology of the NASU conducted preliminary researches on the territory of Narodychi amalgamated territorial community in Zhytomyr Region. During the inspection of the newly discovered site Perehorka in the lower basin of the Zherev River, the remains of a cremated burial were found. It was destroyed and looted by metal detectors and treasure hunters.

The surface inspection on the area of 1.37 ha testified the presence of ceramic of at least four cultural and chronological periods on the Perehorka site: Mesolithic–Neolithic, Bronze Age–Early Iron Age, 1st millennium AD and Ancient Rus period. At the same time, only further field research of this area can give us some details about the cultural and chronological stratification of this multi-layered site. We were able to collect calcined human bones, fragments of pots, parts of a bone comb and small fragments of glass from the destroyed and robbed cremation.

Anthropological examination established that the bone fragments belonged to an adult person, aged 17—30/35 years. The sex of the buried was not determined, as there were no areas of the skeleton with particularly signs of sexual dimorphism. The temperature of the burial fire which was set, oscillated within 500—800° C. Burial pottery is represented by a coarse fragment of handmade pots with significant admixtures of mineral and plants in the texture. The shape and structure of the fragments are changed because of influence of high temperatures.

According to the sum of features, it is possible to date ceramics in the wide limits by the middle of 1st millennium AD. According to the fragments of bone plates, it can be stated that the bone comb was three-layered. Such bone combs can be dated by the 3rd — early 5th centuries AD.

Among the glass fragments, three fragments of double-glazed glass attract attention. They are decisive for the general dating of the burial complex. Fragments of late Roman tableware made of double-glazed glass in Ukraine are rare. Only five sites are known: the settlement of Komariv on the Middle Dniester, the cemetery of Velyka Buhaivka in the Middle Dnieper, the cemetery of Viitenky and the settlements of Mala Rohan and Zapadnia in Kharkiv Region. These finds are mainly dated by the end of the 4th — first half of the 5th centuries.

The studied cremation is the first burial site of the late Roman time and the beginning of the Great Migration period in the territory of Zhytomyr Polissia.

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2021-06-14
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Publication of Archaeological Material