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‚Irreguläre‘ Bestattungen in der Urgeschichte:

Norm, Ritual, Strafe …?

RÖMISCH-GERMANISCHE KOMMISSION, FRANKFURT A. M. EURASIEN-ABTEILUNG, BERLIN

des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts

Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte Band 19

Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte Band 19 Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH ∙ Bonn

Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH ∙ Bonn 2013

RÖMISCH-GERMANISCHE KOMMISSION DES DEUTSCHEN ARCHÄOLOGISCHEN INSTITUTS

‚Irreguläre‘ Bestattungen in der Urgeschichte:

Norm, Ritual, Strafe …?

Akten der Internationalen Tagung in Frankfurt a. M. vom 3. bis 5. Februar 2012

herausgegeben von Nils Müller-Scheeßel

Frankfurt a. M. vom 3. bis 5. Februar 2012 herausgegeben von Nils Müller-Scheeßel Dr. Rudolf Habelt

Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH ∙ Bonn 2013

X und 518 Seiten, 239 Abbildungen und 34 Tabellen

Gedruckt mit Unterstützung der

Abbildungen und 34 Tabellen Gedruckt mit Unterstützung der , Düsseldorf Bibliografische Information der Deutschen

, Düsseldorf

Bibliografische Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet über <https: // portal.dnb.de> abrufbar

© 2013 by Römisch-Germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Frankfurt a. M. Redaktion: N. Müller-Scheeßel und N. Baumann Satz: Müller-Scheeßel, Frankfurt a. M. Einband: S. Berg, unter Verwendung einer Grafik von J. Schroeter Druck: ruksaldruck GmbH, Berlin gedruckt auf alterungsbeständigem Papier ISBN 978-3-7749-3862-2

Inhalt

Vorwort

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IX

Nils Müller-Scheeßel ‚Irreguläre‘ Bestattungen in der Urgeschichte: einführende Vorbemerkungen

 

1

 

Theorie und Methode

 

Ulrich Veit ‚Sonderbestattungen‘: Vorüberlegungen zu einem integrierten Ansatz ihrer Erforschung

 

11

Edeltraud Aspöck Über die Variabilität von Totenpraktiken. Oder: Probleme einer dichotomen Auffassung

 

von Toten- bzw. Bestattungsbrauchtum

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25

Cătălin Pavel

 

The Social Construction of Disability in Prehistoric Societies – What Funerary

 

Archaeology Can and Cannot Say

 

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39

Janina Duerr Die verkehrte Jenseitswelt (mundus inversus): Eine Deutung zerbrochener, verbogener

 

oder vertauschter Grabbeigaben

 

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49

Andy Reymann ‚Schamane‘ oder nicht ‚Schamane‘? Zur Problematik der Nutzung eines ethnologischen Terminus bei der Analyse vorgeschichtlicher Bestattungen

 

65

Július Jakab

 

Brüche an menschlichen Knochen aus urgeschichtlichen Siedlungsgruben der

 

Südwestslowakei .

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75

Antje Kohse Sonderbestattungen in Ägypten von der prädynastischen Zeit bis zum Mittleren Reich

 

(ca. 4500–1750 v. Chr.)

 

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87

Das 5. Jahrtausend v. Chr. und früher

 

Reena Perschke Kopf und Körper – der ‚Schädelkult‘ im vorderasiatischen Neolithikum

 

95

Christian Meyer, Christian Lohr, Hans-Christoph Strien, Detlef Gronenborn und Kurt W. Alt Interpretationsansätze zu ,irregulären‘ Bestattungen während der linearbandkeramischen Kultur: Gräber en masse und Massengräber

 

111

Joachim Pechtl and Daniela Hofmann Irregular Burials in the LBK – All or None?

 

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123

Lech Czerniak and Joanna Pyzel Unusual Funerary Practices in the Brześć Kujawski Culture in the Polish Lowland

 

139

VI

Inhalt

Noémi Pažinová und Alena Bistáková

Die Bestattungssitten der Lengyel-Kultur im Lichte ausgewählter Beispiele

aus der südwestlichen Slowakei

 

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151

 

Das 4. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

 

Claudia Sachße Sonderbestattungen in der Badener Kultur

 

169

Amelie Alterauge Silobestattungen aus unbefestigten Siedlungen der Michelsberger Kultur in Süd- und Südwestdeutschland – Versuch einer Annäherung

 

185

Sara Schiesberg Überlegungen zu Normen und Abweichungen im Bestattungsbrauch der Trichterbecherzeit unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Gräberfeldes von Ostorf-Tannenwerder

197

Christoph Rinne und Katharina Fuchs Bestattungen in Siedlungen. Norm und Sonderfall in der Bernburger Kultur

 

211

 

Das 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

 

Michal Ernée

Uniformität oder Kreativität im Totenbrauchtum? Zum Bestattungsritus

 

der Aunjetitzer Kultur aus Sicht der Phosphatanalyse

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227

Michaela Langová und Alžběta Danielisová Bestattungsritus der Aunjetitzer Kultur in Brandýs an der Elbe (Mittelböhmen):

 

,Siedlungsbestattungen‘ – ein ganz normaler Teil des Bestattungsritus?

 

239

Anna Pankowská, Miroslav Daňhel and Jaroslav Peška Formal Classification of Settlement Burials from Moravia (Czech Republic)

 

Dating to the Early Bronze Age

 

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2 51

Pavol Jelínek and Július Vavák Human Remains in Settlement Pits of the Maďarovce Culture in Slovakia

 

(Early Bronze Age)

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265

Vera Hubensack und Carola Metzner-Nebelsick Mitteldeutsche frühbronzezeitliche Sonderbestattungen in Siedlungsgruben

 

279

Immo Heske und Silke Grefen-Peters

 

Rückkehr in die Bestattungsgemeinschaft – ,Zerrupfte‘ Bestattungen der Bronze- und

 

frühen

Eisenzeit

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289

 

Das 1. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

 

Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region:

 

Investigation and Interpretation

 

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307

Inhalt

VII

Monika Griebl und Irmtraud Hellerschmid Menschenknochen und Menschenniederlegungen in Siedlungsgruben der befestigten Höhensiedlung von Stillfried an der March, Niederösterreich: Gängige Praxis der

Totenbehandlung in der jüngeren Urnenfelderkultur ?

 

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327

Stefan Flindt, Susanne Hummel, Verena Seidenberg, Reinhold Schoon, Gisela Wolf, Henning Haßmann und Thomas Saile Die Lichtensteinhöhle. Ein ,irregulärer‘ Ort mit menschlichen Skelettresten aus der Urnenfelderzeit – Vorbericht über die Ausgrabungen der Jahre 1993–2011

 

347

Melanie Augstein ‚Reguläre‘ und ‚irreguläre‘ Bestattungen der Hallstattzeit Nordostbayerns

 

365

Lydia Hendel und Elisabeth Noack Regel- oder Sonderfall? Die eisenzeitlichen Menschenknochen am Hohlen Stein

 

bei Schwabthal, Lkr. Lichtenfels

 

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377

Peter Trebsche

Die Regelhaftigkeit der ‚irregulären‘ Bestattungen im österreichischen Donauraum

 

während der Latènezeit

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387

Nils Müller-Scheeßel, Carola Berszin, Gisela Grupe, Annette Schwentke, Anja Staskiewicz und Joachim Wahl Ältereisenzeitliche Siedlungsbestattungen in Baden-Württemberg und Bayern

 

409

Christian Meyer, Leif Hansen, Frauke Jacobi, Corina Knipper, Marc Fecher, Christina Roth und Kurt W. Alt Irreguläre Bestattungen in der Eisenzeit? Bioarchäologische Ansätze zur Deutung am Beispiel der menschlichen Skelettfunde vom Glauberg

425

Felix Fleischer, Michaël Landolt und Muriel Roth-Zehner Die eisenzeitlichen Siedlungsbestattungen des Elsass

 

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439

Sandra Pichler, Hannele Rissanen, Norbert Spichtig, Kurt W. Alt, Brigitte Röder, Jörg Schibler und Guido Lassau Die Regelmäßigkeit des Irregulären: Menschliche Skelettreste vom spätlatènezeitlichen

 

Fundplatz Basel-Gasfabrik

 

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471

Stefan Burmeister Moorleichen – Sonderbestattung, Strafjustiz, Opfer? Annäherungen an eine

 

kulturgeschichtliche Deutung

 

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485

 

Schlussbetrachtungen

 

Alexander Gramsch Wer will schon normal sein? Kommentare zur Interpretation ‚irregulärer‘ Bestattungen

 

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Vorwort

Der vorliegende Band ist aus einer Tagung entstan- den, die unter dem Titel „‚Irreguläre‘ Bestattungen in der Urgeschichte: Norm, Ritual, Strafe …?“ vom 3. bis 5. Februar 2012 in Frankfurt a. Main von der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission und dem Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte der Goethe- Universität Frankfurt a. M. organisiert wurde 1 . Die Gerda Henkel-Stiftung hat zu dieser Tagung einen substantiellen Beitrag gestiftet, ohne den sie in der Form, wie sie durchgeführt wurde, nicht hätte rea- lisiert werden können. Auch zur Herstellung dieses Bandes hat sie unbürokratisch einen erheblichen Beitrag geleistet. Für dieses doppelte finanziel- le Engagement danke ich ihr an dieser Stelle ganz herzlich. Gegenüber dem ursprünglichen Tagungspro- gramm 2 sind eine Reihe von Änderungen zu ver- zeichnen. Einige Vortragenden sahen sich zeitlich nicht in der Lage, ihre Ergebnisse zu Papier zu bringen, bzw. teilweise sind sie in ähnlicher Form inzwischen anderswo veröffentlicht 3 . Dafür wurden die Autoren einiger während der Tagung präsen- tierten Poster gebeten, diese für den Tagungsband auszuarbeiten, da sie m. E. neuartige Aspekte in die Diskussion einbringen. Der Vortragsvorschlag von Melanie Augstein konnte ursprünglich aus Zeitgrün- den nicht mehr berücksichtigt werden, hat nun aber

in gedruckter Form Eingang in den Band gefunden. Ebenfalls neu hinzugekommen ist das Resümee von Alexander Gramsch. Ich danke Susanne Sievers und Svend Hansen, die sich spontan bereit erklärt haben, den vorlie- genden Band in die Reihe „Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte“ aufzunehmen. Susanne Sie- vers hat die Entstehung des Bandes darüber hinaus mit Rat und Tat begleitet, wofür ich ihr herzlich danke. Zum erfolgreichen Zustandekommen dieses Ban- des haben ferner in erheblichem Umfang beigetra- gen Nadine Baumann, der ich für ihre sorgfältige Textkorrektur danken möchte, sowie Christoph v. Rummel, dem ich für die Korrektur der englischen Texte und Summaries Dank schulde. Kirstine Rup- pel hat dankenswerterweise einen Teil der Grafiken überarbeitet und Silke Berg den Umschlagentwurf erstellt. Martin Sorg von ruksaldruck, Berlin, sorgte für einen reibungslosen Ablauf bei der Drucklegung des Buches. Schließlich ist es mir eine besondere Freude, den zahlreichen Autorinnen und Autoren für die ange- nehme Zusammenarbeit bei der Erstellung dieses Bandes zu danken.

Frankfurt a. M., Juli 2013

Der Herausgeber

1 Siehe den Tagungsbericht von Reena Perschke:

<http: // hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de / tagungsberich- te / id=4216> (15.06.2013).

dazu <http: // hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.

de / termine / id=16614> und <http: // hsozkult.geschichte.

hu-berlin.de / termine / id=18078> (15.06.2013).

3 So der Vortrag von S. Sievers „Menschliche Ske- lettreste aus dem Oppidum von Manching im Wechsel- spiel der Interpretationen“, der in den Schriften des Kel- ten Römer Museums Manching erscheinen wird.

2 Siehe

Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region:

Investigation and Interpretation *

Zusammenfassung: Zwischen 2009 und 2011 wurden in Pusztataskony-Ledence 1 (Ostungarn) drei spät- bronze- / früheisenzeitliche Siedlungsgruben ausgegraben, die große Mengen menschlicher Knochen in verschiedenen Stadien der Dekomposition erbrachten. Die Komplexe enthielten sowohl einzelne Knochen, Schädel wie auch Teil- und komplette Skelette in annähernd anatomischem Verband. Zugehörige Funde – u. a. eine der Kalakačakultur zuzuordnende Keramikscherbe – waren selten und fragmentiert. Im ersten Teil des Beitrags geben die Autoren einen Überblick über die stratigraphischen Beobachtungen und die Struktur der Befunde. Im zweiten werden die Methoden, Probleme und Möglichkeiten der Interpretation ausgelotet. Die Ergebnisse der anthropologischen Untersuchung und der mikromorphologischen Analysen, gestellt in den Kontext gleichzeitiger Massenfunde menschlicher Skelettreste aus Südosteuropa, eröffnet die Möglichkeit, die Entstehung einer mehrstufigen Bestattungspraxis zu diskutieren.

Summary: Between 2009 and 2011, three Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age settlement pits, containing large amounts of human remains in different states of decomposition, were unearthed at the site Pusztataskony- Ledence 1 (Eastern Hungary). The deposits contained both single bones and clear crania, complete skel- etons and body parts in approximate anatomical order. Associated finds – with a potsherd of the Kalakača culture amongst them – were sporadic and fragmented. In the first part of the paper the authors summarize stratigraphical observations, giving a description of the deposit structure, while in the second part methods, problems and the possibilities of interpretation are examined. The results of the anthropological survey and the soil micromorphological analysis, placed in context with contemporaneous mass deposits of human remains from South-Eastern Europe raise the possibility of an emerging multi-stage funerary practice in the area.

Description of the finds and basic observations

The site of Pusztataskony-Ledence 1 is situated on the left bank of the river Tisza, at the western edge of the Great Hungarian Plain (fig. 1,1–3). Preceding the building of a new water reservoir, large-scale excavations were carried out here by the Institute of Archaeological Sciences of the Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary) between 2009 and 2011. The site roughly covers one of the area’s small elevations, which in prehistoric times – before the regulation of the river in the 19 th century – repre- sented the nearest continuously dry spot at the river bank (fig. 1,3–4). The building of a channel as part of the reservoir system enabled us to uncover a 72 m wide, whole cross-section of the site, where the finds of eleven archaeological periods were detect- ed. The Late Bronze Age is represented by abundant remains of a settlement of the Late Tumulus Culture (from Reinecke B2–B2 / C1) and that of the Early Gáva Culture (to Reinecke BD / HaA1, maybe later) as well. Amongst these, scarce traces of the Early Iron Age (Reinecke Ha B2 / C1) were also detected

during the excavation, which, with hindsight, may be interpreted as marks of a small but probably in- dependent settlement horizon. As the evaluation of the material has just begun, we do not have a clear view of the settlement relations of the site yet, but the few pits related to the Early Iron Age seem to bear witness to a scanty group of hamlets. Amongst the settlement objects we found three distinctive features – huge pits, more or less filled with commingled human remains – which are the subject for the present study. The first feature, ob- ject 2-011 1 was found in 2009, while the second and

* We would like to thank L. Dowdy for her notewor- thy remarks and A. Jóczik for his most valuable help in proofreading the manuscript. 1 Originally, the site was thought to form two sepa- rate ones and was numbered accordingly (Pusztataskony- Ledence 1 and 2). As a result of the excavations the two sites were united under the name Pusztataskony-Ledence 1, resulting in doublings in the documentation (object and stratigraphical numbers). Therefore, at every cita- tion, the original site numbers are presented at the head of the identification numbers.

308 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács Fig. 1. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Location of the site

Fig. 1. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Location of the site and the position of the deposits. 1–2 location of the site; 3 natural surroundings of the site before the regulation of the river Tisza (red patch marks excavation area); 4 elevation map with the hypothetical hydrological circumstances of the immediate surroundings of the site; 5 distribution of the ob- jects of the Late Bronze / Early Iron Age settlements and the position of the three deposits.

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

309

third ones, objects 1-550 and 1-701 were excavated

during the season 2011. The exact spatial relation of the features to the contemporary settlement objects

is still unclear, but the distribution of the former is

fairly even, suggesting that the deposits were not separated from the area of the living (fig. 1,5). All three ‘human deposits’ are placed as a form of

secondary usage in abandoned clay extraction pits. The basic structure of the pits is similar, consisting

of a step-like shallow part in one side, surrounded by

one or more deeper niches. The phenomena are sim- ilar as well in that after the layers of human remains had been entered more or less on the bottom of these pits, the depressions were filled up to ground level. In all three cases the fill contained archaeological material similar to that of the later period of the Late Bronze Age settlement.

Feature 2-011 (fig. 2)

The first and smallest of the three features is posi- tioned at the southern border of the southern settle- ment patch. The basic pit had a sole deeper niche at its southern side. The bottom was perfectly cleared before the human remains were entered (fig. 2,1). As we learned later, by revealing the structure of the second feature, the scarce, patchy, ashy layer observed at the bottom of the deepest part right un- der the skulls was probably shoveled in as a kind

of opening act of the deposition sequence. Over the

charred layer, disarticulated bones and the skeletal remains of articulated body parts or segments cov- ered the entire bottom of the pit (fig. 2,2–4). There was no detectable order in the arrangement of the remains, though the skeletal remains of the less decomposed bodies (a nearly complete skeleton amongst them, with only one arm missing) were

located in the shallow northern area. The deeper part was filled with commingled remains which at the time of the deposition must have been mostly tissueless. This way, the four other skulls, found at

the deepest zone of the bone layer probably ‘rolled together’, showing an ostensible pattern that at first glimpse may seem purposeful. Associated finds were scarce amongst the bones.

A bronze ring or small bracelet, found under a pile

of scattered bones, was interred with the remains.

In the filling of the pit, above the closed bone layer,

there were no human remains, only Late Bronze Age potsherds (probably settlement material). The presence of pottery with Gáva characteristics is, however, of no determining chronological value: a radiocarbon date places the object in the Early Iron Age 2 .

Feature 1-550 (fig. 3–4)

The excavation of the second and largest feature proved to be both a methodological and a logistic challenge. The deposit contained 25 skulls alto- gether, six of which belonged to complete and nine to partial bodies. Beside these, the skeletal remains of probably far more individuals, in every possible state of decomposition at the time of the interment, were piled up in the infill. To unearth this complex properly, we tried to follow the natural separation of the phenomena where it was possible and worked with artificial levels when it was necessary. As in the case of the other features, a documentation grid of 0,5 × 0,5 m was placed on the axis of the main section and all data was recorded accordingly. The basic pit was broadly a round one, of ap- proximately 3 × 3 m, with a bottom split by a shal- low raising in the southern part and three niches of various depths around. The relative height dif- ference between the highest and the lowest points of the bottom was about 80 cm. At the beginning of the deposition sequence the northwestern dent was partly filled with mixed soil, the others cleared completely (fig. 3,1). The first act of entering the remains was the spreading of a thin layer of charcoal and ashes all over the bottom surface, mostly in the southern area (fig. 3,2). The ash must have been hot when it was shoveled in: the attaching surface of a vertebra frag- ment, lying partly on a small piece of charcoal was discoloured by heat. This indicates a very short span for the whole event. In the second phase the intact and nearly com- plete bodies were placed in a somewhat ordered arrangement: four of them to fill the two smaller, western dents and the others around the western side of the greater eastern niche. Partial torsos, limbs and separate skulls were tucked along the sides of the pit, and larger body segments were piled up in its southwestern corner (fig. 3,3–4). Most of the associ- ated finds of the bone layer were found in this level. These include the fragments of a great conical bowl, a fake spondylus (limestone) bead, a small bronze spiral ring on a finger belonging to a partial hand (fig. 4,3), a bronze bracelet under the right shoulder

of a partial body (fig. 4,4), and five astragali, one of them pierced through, right under the foot bones of

; the sixth

piece was found in the infill). The most significant

find here was a fragment of a Kalakača vessel from amongst the scattered bones of the lowermost level

the complete skeleton of an infant fig. 4,5

( (

2 821–796 calBC (68,2 %). – The human bone sample no. Poz-41895 was measured by the Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory. The raw date, 2640 ± 30 BP, was calibrated with OxCal 4.1.5.

310 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács Fig. 2. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 2-011. 1–4 Phases

Fig. 2. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 2-011. 1–4 Phases of the deposition sequence; 5 overview of the excavated feature, uppermost bone layer (phase 4). Colour scheme: shades of orange – complete skeletons; blue – partial skel- etons; gray – single bones; pink – single skulls.

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

311

Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation 311 Fig. 3. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-550. 1–6 Phases

Fig. 3. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-550. 1–6 Phases of the deposition sequence. Colour scheme for the bones:

shades of yellow / orange – complete skeletons; shades of blue – partial skeletons; gray – single bones; pink – single skulls. Colour scheme for the soil layers: brown – ash; black / dark gray – mostly charcoal; light brown / yellow – mixed soil and subsoil.

312 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács Fig. 4. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-550. 1 Overview

Fig. 4. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-550. 1 Overview of the feature with the completely unearthed bone layer in the middle and western parts (see phases 3–6 on fig. 3), that in the eastern depression is mostly untouched; 2 lower part of the bone layer in the eastern niche, after removing the single bones (referring roughly to phase 3 on fig. 3); 3 bronze spiral ring on the finger bone of a partial hand; 4 bronze bracelet under the right scapula of a partial body, lying directly on the charcoal layer; 5 six astragali, two of them pierced through, from under the legs of a complete skeleton; 6 Kalakača vessel fragment from amongst the bones of segmented cadavers in the lowermost layer.

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

313

Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation 313 Fig. 5. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-701. 1–6 Phases

Fig. 5. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Feature 1-701. 1–6 Phases of the deposition sequence; 7 overview of the feature, uppermost bone layer (phase 6). Colours added for illustrative purposes only.

314 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

(fig. 4,6) 3 . This sherd, on the one hand, connects the feature with the Balkan area to the south. On the other hand it has chronological value as well, as it dates the object to the Early Iron Age (Reinecke Ha B2 / B3–C1), i. e. into the same horizon as fea- ture 2-011. Though the phases of the deposition process can- not be separated perfectly, it seems that the infilling of the huge amount of tissueless bones took place mainly as a consecutive action to the deposition of intact and more or less segmented cadavers. While the latter were placed seemingly as close to the edges as possible, the former were simply shoveled into the empty places left, with the tissueless skulls thrown between, until the eastern niche was com- pletely filled – forming a half meter thick layer of scattered bones (fig. 3,5). After this, the whole pit was filled to ground level with mixed brown soil containing some fragmentary Late Bronze Age settlement material (fig. 3,6).

Feature 1-701 (fig. 5)

The third feature is situated in the middle of the ex- cavated part of the site, in the northern zone of the southern settlement patch (fig. 1,5). The deposit dif- fered from the first two as it contained the skeletal remains of 14 complete corpses only, with practi- cally no scattered bones or bones belonging to seg- mented bodies. The basic structure of the pit was similar to that of feature 1-550, with a shallow ‘step’ in the south- ern area of the bottom, surrounded by three smaller niches (fig. 5,1). The northern one was filled shortly before the bodies were entered, and, as in the former case, contained the fragments of a great conical bowl with inverted rim. A polished stone axe, probably of Neolithic origin, lay on the bottom as well (fig. 5,2). This time there was no trace either of fire, ashes or any other preliminary action in the filling. Six of the bodies were simply tucked in one after another to fill the western niche, and the seventh, a small child, was placed nearby, with its body laying on the edge of the shallow ‘step’ and its head hanging down (fig. 5,3–5). The other bodies were laid in the deeper eastern niche or piled up in the lower zones of the step (fig. 5,5–6). The significant variance of depth and thick layers of earth between the bodies of the eastern niche may indicate a major temporal gap, but as there was no perceptible deviation in the texture of the filling of the bone layer and as the logical interpretation of the observed sequence of the deposition suggests a short span, one may find this implication insupportable. Both associated finds and structural similarities speak for the contemporaneity of the three objects, but at this point, having no sets of reliable radiocar- bon data at hand, their exact relative chronological

positions cannot be established. As scattered bones, skeletal remains of partial cadavers and complete skeletons occur in relatively many objects of the Late Bronze Age settlements as well (Reinecke BD / HaA1 or HaA2 at the latest), at first the three

deposits were thought to be connected to this period; but the first radiocarbon data from object 2-011 and the Kalakača sherd found in pit 1-550 surely date

at least two of the three deposits to the period Rei-

necke Ha B2 / B3–C1, suggesting a considerable time gap between them and the more or less similar Late Bronze Age phenomena of the site.

Results of the preliminary anthropological survey

A preliminary anthropological analysis of the three

deposits was carried out in 2009–2010 and in 2012. Preceding a microanalysis by T. Hajdu, this was restricted to an estimation concerning the minimal number of individuals and to the detection of poten- tial traumatic and taphonomic lesions. The results show that feature 2-011 contained re- mains of at least 20 individuals. The deposit consist- ed almost exclusively of single bones and the skel- etal remains of segmented bodies – articulated chest bones, upper and lower limbs, the latter occasion- ally together with pelvic bone – of both sexes and all age ranges. Only one nearly complete skeleton was identified here: a child lay in a flexed position, with the bones of its forearm and hand absent, on the shallow part of the bottom of the pit. In feature 1-550, containing at least 25, more likely approxi- mately 40 individuals, the proportions change: un- der a huge amount of single bones, crania, and cal- varia several complete skeletons were laid – some in contracted positions, while the setting of others showing no marks of intentionality. Feature 1-701 showed a completely different picture as – apart from some randomly occurring single bones – it was dominated by 14 complete skeletons, which were deposited over each other in contracted posi-

3 Vessels with slight differences in decoration were found in the second mass grave of Hrtkovci-Gomolava (TASIĆ 1972, 36, fig. 4,1.3; TASIĆ 1972 / 1973, fig. 109,1; 113,41; 114,45) and everywhere in the settlement layer

of the Bosut Culture on the same site (MEDOVIĆ 1978,

plate VIII 1). However, this kind of pottery is one of the most characteristic finds from the Kalakača horizon, and

several further analogies could be mentioned here (e. g.

Mošorin: FALKENSTEIN 1998, plate 33,4.8; 35,15–16; Titel: ibd. plate 37,1; Farkaždin: MEDOVIĆ 1978, plate

XLVII 2; Beška, Kalakača: POPOVIĆ 1981, plate III 2;

Krčedin: ibid. plate IV 8; Vrdnik, Pečine: ibid. plate

IX 6).

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

315

 

Feature 2-011

Feature 1-550

 

Children

Males & females

Children

Males & females

(d + s)

(d + s)

(d + s)

(d + s)

Humerus

17 + 14

25 + 11

11 + 11

3 + 4

Radius

13 + 19

25 + 7

10 + 12

1 + 3

Ulna

13 + 22

13 + 11

9 + 11

3 + 3

Femur

12 + 18

40 + 24

15 + 13

9 + 6

Tibia

8 + 10

29 + 15

13 + 15

5 + 5

Fibula

15 + 20

33 + 6

4 + 6

2 + 1

Tab. 1. Pusztataskony-Ledence 1. Number of long bones in features 2-011 and 1-550. d dextra (right); s sinistra (left).

tion or laid irregularly. In any case, it was not possi- ble to associate either the different partial skeletons and / or the clean bones within the features 4 .

Summary of the preliminary results

1. All three pits contained remains of children and adults as well, of both sexes and all age groups (the lack of 0-year old newborn range is characteristic at prehistoric series). There is no recognizable relation between sex, age at death, state of disintegration and the position of the bodies (were they deposited either with or without intentional arrangement). Ta- ble 1 summarizes the long bones from pits 2-011 and 1-550. The type distribution shows clearly how accidental the collecting of the remains must have been, and therefore, how arguable in these cases a mere estimation of the interred individuals’ number would be.

2. At the time when the remains were interred,

in most of the cases the decay of the corpses was in progress. Distinct states of disintegration (com- mon presence of whole skeletons, parts of skeletons in anatomical order, single bones) suggest different dates of death for particular individuals in the same

pit.

3. Apart from a couple of cases (e. g. a deep cut

mark on one of the skulls from feature 2-011, the blow probably causing immediate death), there were no physical injuries on the bones, and marks of cannibalism (e. g. signs of intentional defleshing,

boiling or human gnawing) were also absent. Would the pits contain remains of victims of some natural disaster or a lasting epidemic, by traditional anthro- pological analysis cannot be determined.

4. Marks of animal (rodent or scavenger) gnaw-

ing are also missing, indicating that the corpses were not kept in the open prior to burial. The lack of weather marks (e.g. sun bleaching, desiccation caused by direct sunlight or warping caused by ex- treme temperatures) affirms this assumption. The presence of partial skeletons with the bones in ana- tomical order indicates textile wrapping or clothes.

In conclusion, the different stages of disintegra- tion and the lack of physical injuries are evidence that the pits contained the remains of individuals who died at different dates and by distinct causes, and the cadavers of which were, in the first stage of the burial process, putrefied for various times and retained during this process in a closed context else- where. After death, every (?) member of the com- munity, regardless of sex, age, or cause of death, was treated the same way. The sex and age of individuals shows no correla- tion either with the state of decomposition of the remains (single bones, associated body parts, crania or complete skeletons) or – in the case of intact ca- davers – the way of treatment (either showing signs of intentionality or not). In all three deposits the state of the human remains implies that the major- ity of the corpses were disposed of in the pits when their decay was already in progress.

Taxonomic analysis

Complex analysis of the human remains shows that the series of the three pits is characterized by taxo- nomic heterogeneity, an overall characteristic of prehistoric series of the Carpathian Basin, caused mainly by varying interbreeding ratio of taxonomic variants. The Pusztataskony population is dominat- ed by low and high faced, leptodolichomorph indi- viduals of both short and tall stature. Some of the in- dividuals belong to the curvoocipital brachymorph taxonomic variant, and the cromagnoid component is also present. There is no recognizable correlation between taxonomic variants and the sex of the in- dividuals, and all components are present in every pit.

4 The anthropological investigation was prepared according to the methods of ALEKSEIEV / DEBETZ 1964; ÉRY et al. 1963; JOHNSTON 1961; MARTIN / SALLER 1957; NEMESKÉRI et al. 1960; SCHOUR / MASSLER 1941; SJØVOLD 1990.

316 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Pusztataskony–Ledence, features 2-011, 1-550, 1-701

Males & females

Females

Hurbanovo culture

0.282

Vatya culture

0.698

~

Füzesabony culture

0.290

1.439

Maros culture

Battonya I–II & Deszk

0.179

Csanytelek

0.980

0.858

Mokrin

0.067

0.103

Szőreg-C I

0.138

Szőreg-C II

0.151

Szőreg-C III

0.434

0.597

Ostojićevo I

0.434

Ostojićevo II

0.223

0.369

Tumulus culture, Tápé

0.196

0.182

Bosut culture, Gomolava II

0.146

0.337

Mezőcsát culture

0.443

0.648

Tab. 2. Distances (C R 2 values) according to the Penrose analysis between the series from Pusztataskony and other series from the Carpathian Basin. Smaller C R 2 values indicate more probable biological proximity or even identity of the different series. Statistically significant results are underlined.

Taxonomic comparison of the people of the Pusz- tataskony pits and the territorial predecessors (the population of the Gáva culture) is not possible as there are only a few skeleton burials known from the Gáva culture, leaving its general taxonomic im- age unclear. However, by extending the search for materials to include in the taxonomic comparison, it is possible to find convincing archaeological analo- gies far afield, roughly 300 km to the south, in sites from Voivodina (Northern Serbia) of the Kalakača horizon of the Bosut Culture (Bosut IIIa, Reinecke Ha B2 / B3–C1), which are contemporaneous with the Pusztataskony features. Regrettably, the pit of Novi Sad-ADECO is nearly completely and anoth- er at Novi Sad-Klisa is partly ruined 5 , and the an- thropological material of the first mass grave from Hrtkovci-Gomolava (Syrmia) was not retained. The greatest mass grave of the Kalakača horizon is that of Hrtkovci-Gomolava II 6 (see descriptions below). The condition of the anthropological material from the burials of Vajuga-Pesak at the Iron Gates, a site representing the next horizon of the Bosut culture is so poor that it did not fit either for craniometric or for taxonomic analysis 7 .

Biostatistical analysis

Both the male-female series from the three pits, combined according to the method of Aleksejev and Debetz 8 and the separate female series meet the re-

quirements of Penrose distance analysis 9 . That al- lowed us to perform – to eliminate subjectivity – a biostatistical comparison of the Pusztataskony finds and other cranial series from the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age of the Carpathian Basin. The smaller the C R 2 value (referring to the generalized size-shape distance), the more probable is the bio- logical proximity or even identity of the different series. The analysis, based on the ten main cranial measurements covered altogether 15 series (tab. 2). Similar analyses were carried out before the Pusz- tataskony material became available 10 . Present results did not change the general picture, only shaded our (anthropologically still limited) know- ledge about the biological relations of Bronze and Iron Age populations of the Carpathian Basin. As it concerns archaeological problems, both explana- tion, evaluation or contradiction of the significant relations determined by Penrose analysis exceed the limits of the present study. In this sense, the results

5 Anthropological investigation: ZOFFMANN in press.

6 ZOFFMANN 1997.

7 ZOFFMANN 1998.

8 ALEKSEJEV / DEBETZ 1964.

9 PENROSE 1954.

10 ZOFFMANN 2006a; ZOFFMANN 2009.

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

317

Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation 317 2 Fig. 6. Penrose distances between the available Bronze

2

Fig. 6. Penrose distances between the available Bronze and Early Iron Age series from the Carpathian Basin. C R values refer to the generalized size-shape distance. Smaller C R 2 values indicate more probable biological proximity or even identity of the different series (represented by thicker connection lines).

of the already completed preliminary investigations (unlikely to be changed by the microanalyses of T. Hajdu) are restricted to the determination that the individuals buried in the pits of Pusztataskony were members of an autochthon community descending from the population of the local Middle Bronze Age Maros-Perjámos culture. The Early Iron Age com- munity is not only related to the Maros-Perjámos cemeteries of the Great Hungarian Plain, which by Penrose results seem to form a closed block (fig. 6), but to the population of the mass grave of Hrtkovci- Gomolava II, i.e. the Kalakača horizon of the Bosut culture of Syrmia as well (though the separate fe- male series does not show this connection).

Interpretation of the Pusztataskony features

At first sight in 2009, the then-unique feature 2-011 at Pusztataskony seemed to contain victims of a mass slaughter or an epidemic that eradicated the population of a nearby homestead. One imagined a group of people (maybe members of a nearby com- munity) finding the cadavers few weeks or months later and giving final honour to the deceased by in- terring them in a large pit that was open at the time. But as the anthropological survey progressed, the emerging evidence forced our team to seek an alter- native explanation. Aware of that, the excavation of the second and third features in 2011 focused on the deposition sequence and the possibilities of recon- structing the treatment of the cadavers and revealing the primary context of the human remains.

Problems and possibilities

In the theoretical discussions of Hungarian research, ‘special’ prehistoric deposits with human remains have intractably been linked to cultic, ritual or at least symbolic human activities or considered to be proof of prehistoric cannibalism, human sacrifice or warfare 11 . Just like in other parts of Europe, most of the earliest interpretations were put forward without either proper definitions of related concepts or an explicit contextual study of the phenomena. In order to avoid further misunderstandings, contemporary research has turned towards a better understanding of conceptual distinctions and the application of clear nomenclature with exact definitions for any- thing under study 12 . Accordingly, a nomenclature

11 A few examples of cultic and sacrificial interpre- tation from Hungarian research. Neolithic: RACZKY 1974, 201; 205 (foundation deposit); ZALAI-GAÁL 1984, 24–27 (skull cult with hints of cannibalism); BÁNFFY 1990 / 1991, 192–194; 218–231 with a list of so-called ‘construction offerings’ from the Neolithic of Austria, (the former) Czechoslovakia and Hungary. – Early Bronze Age: KALICZ-SCHREIBER 1981, 81 f. (sacrifical pit). – Iron Age: PETRES 1972, 371 f. 381 (human re- mains in settlements with features linked to libation sac- rifices). – Sometimes the interpretations of the same fea- ture highly differ, e. g. in the case of the Late Neolithic mass grave of Esztergályhorváti, where mechanical in- juries on the few skull fragments suggest the presence of violence (ZOFFMANN 2007, 50): J. MAKKAY (2000, 62) describes the feature as remains of a massacre, while J. P. BARNA (1996, 153; 156) interprets them as human sacrifice.

12 E. g. MURPHY 2008; RITTERSHOFER 2007.

318 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

concerning ‘deviant burials’ and mortuary processes was recently outlined 13 . In the last few decades the essentiality of com- prehending the actual cultural context in which ‘special deposits’ were created became clear. J. D. Hill pointed out that the main aim of interpreting such assemblages must be to determine the particu-

lar practice that resulted in that particular deposit at

a specific place and time instead of deciding wheth-

er it is of ritual origin or not 14 . Considering human remains, as E. Weiss-Krejci similarly emphasized, “the archaeologist must explain the differences in the physical remains of the dead and determine the

causes that are responsible for variability in the mortuary record. One first step to accomplish such

a goal is to decide whether deposits with human re-

mains represent expressions of funerary behaviour or result from other processes” 15 . Evidently, different factors – agents being either taphonomic 16 or cultural in nature 17 – may enter the process at any stage and, despite having different origins, can produce similar patterns in the archaeo- logical record and vice versa. Only when the deter- minative factors and probable stages of the forma- tion process are revealed, can the interpretation of any phenomenon be started.

Formation processes of the deposits

As the evaluation of the entire Early Iron Age settle- ment material is still in progress, for the moment one must work without data on the middle-range con- text. Therefore, the discussion here is restricted to the reconstruction and comparison of the individual formation processes of the three features, covered by a cross-cultural analysis of the phenomenon. First of all, the information gained by stratigraphi- cal observations and preliminary anthropological investigations are summarized. 1. All three features are characterized by great amounts of human remains clustered in settle- ment (?) pits. The round pits were used originally for clay extraction, abandoned later and used for waste disposal for some time prior to the interment of the human remains. As there is no sign that the pits were designed especially for placing the dead, the location of the cadavers’ ‘final resting place’ must have been chosen haphazardly and was deter- mined probably by practical considerations. As quite

a small proportion of the site is uncovered, further

mass deposits of human remains may be present at Pusztataskony. 2. The ashy layers observed in both features 2- 011 and 1-550 indicate the presence of preceding actions including fire before the deposition of the human remains. However, this must have taken place outside the deposition pits as no traces of in situ firing were observed in or around the features.

At this moment, no direct relationship between the fire and the human remains can be detected.

3. As the human remains in all three features are

tightly clustered, stratigraphically the bone layer of each deposition sequence can be regarded as a closed unit. As there were no signs of later cultural disturbance, each deposition process must have been a single, short-term and definitive event. Although all three features are relatively close to each other and at least two of them can surely be dated to the same chronological horizon (Reinecke Ha B2 / B3 or even C1), the determination of the accurate ex- tent of possible time gaps between their formations requires further investigation.

4. The overall presence of both sexes and all age

ranges, and the fact that the stage of the cadavers’ decomposition at the time of interment shows no

correlation with either sex or age, suggest that the compilation of the deposits was not influenced by any kind of intentional selection based on biologi- cal criteria.

5. As traces of any kind of flesh removal are to-

tally absent, the decay of tissue must have taken place naturally.

6. The joint occurrence of the remains of individ-

uals who died at different times, and the practically complete absence of lethal injuries and other kinds of pre- or perimortem trauma on the bones exclude massacre from the interpretations. Furthermore, the unstructured arrangement of the mostly fragmented accompanying finds in the deposits exclude ritual killing or human sacrifice as well.

7. At the moment the time span between particu-

lar deaths cannot be defined exactly, but based on the average rhythm of thanatological changes sev- eral years or even decades may be assumed. There- fore, as cadavers in different stages of decomposi- tion were deposited jointly, forming a closed unit in each feature, the position of the human remains must be secondary. This means that literally none of the deposits can be considered as a mass grave 18 . 8. The joint occurrence of cadavers in differ- ent stages of decay at the time of their final inter- ment indicates the storage of distinct duration of the bodies prior to their final interment. Based on archaeological observations and the results of the

13 ASPÖCK 2008; SÎRBU 2003; WEISS-KREJCI 2011.

14 HILL 1996, 25.

15 WEISS-KREJCI 2005, 155.

16 E. g. DUDAY 1978; DUDAY 2006; DUDAY et al.

1990.

RAKITA / BUIKSTRA

2005.

18 Recent summary and lists of criteria for defining mass graves: JESSEE / SKINNER 2005; KNÜSEL et al. 2007, 130 and references.

17 GOWLAND / KNÜSEL

2006;

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

319

anthropological analysis very little is to be said on the particulars of the ‘primary storage place’, but the lack of animal gnawing or weather marks on the bones indicates a closed context that could have consisted of several primary inhumation graves (single or collective) or a roofed, closed storage building, a ‘house of the dead’. These were later, at some point, at an unknown occasion and for a yet unknown reason, eliminated, and the corpses – each in its actual state of decomposition – redeposited in one of the pits serving from then on as their ‘final resting place’.

Results of the soil micromorphological survey

In order to gain information regarding the context of the preceding storage, a thin section soil micro- morphological survey was carried out on altogether seven samples from pit 1-550. Samples with se- quences of the fill layers and of the subsoil (PT-04, PT-10, PT-13, PT-14) and others containing human bones from either complete or partial skeletons (PT- 08, PT-12, PT-15) were examined. Samples PT-10 and PT-15 contained parts of the subsoil and the lowermost layer of the fill. In these samples the two layers could clearly be sepa- rated. No indications were found that would sug- gest that the pit, or at least the part from where the samples were taken was initially used for anything else but interment. The presence of iron nodules in the subsoil is the result of excess water caused by rainfall and indicates a gradual filling of the pit 19 . Stratigraphical observations suggest that the north- western part of the pit was cleaned shortly before the interment of human remains. It also could be as- certained that every layer of all samples apart from a patch of charcoal consists exclusively of mineral components (quartz, biotite, chlorite, muscovite, glauconite etc.), i. e. natural soil-like materials. None of the investigated samples contains botanic material (pollen, phytoliths or decomposed organic matter) indicating that the fill layers either with or without human bone originate from deeper soil ho- rizons, and also that no botanic additions were en- closed with the human remains 20 . The soil layer containing human bones could be clearly separated from the stratum beneath. The dif- ferent structure of the infill layers suggests that the bones and some of their previous incorporate me- dium were brought here together, and laid upon the lower soil stratum, i. e. the earlier fill layer of the pit. Biological activity could not be observed in the layers that incorporated the human remains. The lack of phytoliths and other plant residues implies that the human remains were deposited formerly at

deeper soil levels as downwards the proportion of organic elements in the soil profile decreases and finally runs out. The presence of clay coatings fur-

ther supports this assumption: it is typical of the accumulation soil layer (B horizon) as rainwater washes down the fine clay fraction to deeper soil levels, where it encrusts the pore walls 21 . There was no additional ‘alien’ matrix to be observed around the bones, i. e. no differences in structure or com- position. As such there is no evidence for more than one replacement of the remains. The primary sediment medium was present around the bones not only as a coating but forming

a layer, meaning that the bones were replaced to-

gether with the original incorporating context rather than picked up and cleaned one by one 22 . The sedi- ment matrix around the bones suggests that the hu-

man remains were formerly placed elsewhere but at

a similar (or in the same) soil level. It could also be observed that tiny bone fragments were mixed with the primary sediment medium around the human bones. Microscopic observations showed that these were fragments of larger bone pieces, detached due

to the decay process 23 . This conclusion confirms the

existence of a former burial context that was pre- sumed on the basis of the results of the anthropo- logical survey. Although it cannot be proven via the micromorphological samples, it is possible that dur- ing the first burial phase the placement of particular persons might have taken place individually, rather than piling them upon each other as in the excavated pits. In order to get more information about the lo- cation of this prior interment, it would be useful to take further samples from the potential ‘cemetery’ soil layers in the vicinity of the assemblages 24 . Concluding the results of the thin section soil micromorphological survey it has to be reaffirmed that every individual found at least in feature 1-550 of Pusztataskony must have been formerly buried somewhere else, most probably in the neighbour- hood of the deposits. Thereafter, at a particular date and for a particular reason of which we remain una- ware, the corpses in different states of decomposi- tion were exhumed and buried for the second time in the cleared clay pits. In the light of the results of the soil micromorphological survey of the samples from the feature 1-550 it seems to be at least pos- sible that in the cases of the other two features the soil between the remains of the bodies is the very

19 KOVÁCS 2012, 8.

20 Ibid. 15.

21 Ibid. 4.

22 Ibid. 5.

23 Ibid. 4.

24 Ibid. 10.

320 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

same one in which the cadavers were interred be- fore elsewhere.

Contemporaneous mass deposits with human remains from the Eastern Carpathian Basin and beyond

Though many of the observed features have their parallels in several sites of prehistoric Europe, the combination in which these appear in the Pusz- tataskony deposits is virtually unique. In order to completely understand such an unprecedented find it would be essential to examine these features both in their regional and chronological context. Such a survey would by far exceed the limits of this paper, therefore, in the present, first discussion we focus only on the culturally related assemblages. During a preventive archaeological excavation in 2006 a Late Bronze Age settlement with six pits, containing the skeletal remains of partly de- composed human cadavers (four single or double ‘burials’ and two mass deposits) was found only 30 km south of Pusztataskony, at the site of Tiszabő, Galamb-dűlő, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, Hun- gary 25 . The settlement was dated to the Gáva culture by H. Oravecz, but fragments of a horn-handled cup from one of the mass graves 26 may suggest an Early Iron Age presence as well. As it was mentioned above, the most accurate analogies of the Pusztataskony assemblages were found in sites from the Serbian Bosut IIIa phase or Kalakača horizon (Reinecke Ha B2 / B3–C1). The greatest deposits of this period are known from Hrtkovci-Gomolava II (Syrmia) 27 . The first pit was discovered in 1954. By then it was partially de- stroyed by erosion, but the remaining part still cov- ered an area of 2,42 × 1,37 m. It contained the skel- etons of 32 individuals in four layers, the fragments of 24 vessels, a few bronze and iron implements and three fragmented querns or grindstones 28 . Unfortu- nately, a detailed publication of the feature has still not yet been released, and, what is even more re- grettable, the human remains from the deposit were not retained by the excavators 29 . The second, circu- lar pit of the same site with a maximum diameter of 2,90 m was excavated in 1971 and contained the remains of 78 individuals of both sexes and all age ranges, in different states of disintegration, divided into three hypothetical layers. The first bone layer consisted of individual crania, some single bones and articulated body parts, mixed with fragments of grindstones and parts of the skeleton of an ox. Com- plete skeletons were placed along the periphery of the pit. The separation of the second and third bone layers was most hypothetical as their distinction was based on the presumption of the excavators that

the skeletons of the ‘second group’ were laid with their heads oriented towards the centre of the pit, while the individuals of the lowermost layer were

positioned with their heads outwards 30 . Beside the human remains, the second assemblage contained a greater amount of cereal grains in the middle of the pit, the fragments of nine vessels, bronze fibulae, pendants, bracelets, buttons, rattles, phalerae, frag- ments of an iron bracelet and beads made of bone, clay, crystals or amber. According to the observa- tions of N. Tasić, the ornaments turned up mainly in the immediate vicinity of adult individuals 31 . Both a preliminary anthropological investigation by Gy. Farkas and a detailed study by Zs. K. Zoff- mann confirmed the lack of violent injuries, tapho- nomic lesions and signs of pathology on the bones 32 . N. Tasić supposed that the corpses had originally been arranged by design, and that the dislocation of some bones or body parts was a result of later

– cultural or natural – disturbances of the pits 33 . He considered that “in spite of the mixture of the os- teological material in the tomb, the skeletons were not simply thrown into the pit, as it seemed when the tomb was first discovered, but were laid accord- ing to a definite pattern. … grave goods … corrobo- rate the assumption that the collective tomb was not formed by simply throwing in bodies (of defeated enemies or victims of a large-scale epidemic) into the pit, but was formed by burying the dead accord- ing to a specific ritual which can be reconstructed only partly on the basis of the arrangement of the skeletons and the grave goods in the pit” 34 . In the light of the evidence from Pusztataskony-Ledence some kind of reconsideration of this opinion may be necessary. It is very conceivable that the indi- vidual crania and articulated body parts found in the second assemblage of Gomolava may also be ex- plained by the remains having been (re) deposited at

a time when their natural decay process was already

in progress. Tasić also related the presence of animal bones, cereals and grindstones to some kind of ritual in- volving agricultural sacrifices. As he wrote, their

25 ORAVECZ 2007, 297.

26 Personal communication of H. Oravecz.

27 In this context it is noteworthy that the craniometric analysis suggests some kind of link between the popula- tions of Pusztataskony and Hrtkovci-Gomolava II (tab. 2; fig. 6).

28 TASIĆ 1972, 32.

29 ZOFFMANN 1997, 249.

30 TASIĆ 1972, 29.

31 Ibid. 30.

32 FARKAS 1972 / 1973; ZOFFMANN 1997.

33 TASIĆ 1972, 29.

34 Ibid.

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

321

occurrence “in both cases may be interpreted as as- sociated with a ritual action, which, viewed in con- nection with the presence of cereals in the tombs, indicates the agricultural component in the culture of the people to whom the tomb belonged. The complex of sacrificial actions and beliefs in after- life comprises the practice of sacrificing whole, or parts of, animals. Tomb II contained part of the skel- eton of an ox, and in Tomb I bones of a deer and a dog were found. Their occurrence and the pres- ence of grave goods in both tombs lead to the con- clusion that these ritual objects did not come there by chance, during a hasty burial of dead tribesmen or of enemies captured or killed in battle, but that they were placed there as a result of certain ritual actions” 35 . Though this line of thought may seem worth considering, it is not sufficiently supported by scientific data or detailed contextual analysis. In the deposits of Pusztataskony no features indicating this kind of ritual behaviour were detected. On the contrary, several hints suggest that the corpses had been subjects of earlier primary burials. Bearing this in mind, it is also conceivable that the sherds of ceramic vessels, the bone and stone tools, the set of astragali and the bronze ornaments found together with the human remains may have served as grave goods in the previous stage of the burial (i. e. at the former interment), and were dug out and re-depos- ited accidentally with the human remains. Concern- ing the animals found in the features of Gomolava, one may rather relate their presence to some – even perhaps ritualistic – action taking place during the final deposition of human cadavers. Two further mass deposits with human remains from the Kalakača horizon were found recently in the vicinity of Novi Sad, Vojvodina 36 . A pit contain- ing human bones has been unearthed at Novi Sad- ADECO (structure unknown) by D. Anđelić, and in 2008 another deposition of complete skeletons and single bones was found at a large-scale excavation at Novi Sad-Klisa 37 . Some features of the find cir- cumstances led D. Anđelić to the suggestion that such collective depositions may be typical for the end of the Kalakača horizon 38 . To prove this hypo- thesis, however, a systematic chronological and contextual analysis of all assemblages from this ho- rizon is needed in the future 39 . Significant data proving a direct relationship be- tween the Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age popula- tion of the Middle Tisza Region and the contem- poraneous groups of South-Eastern Europe has not yet been published. In this light the finds of Pusz- tataskony may be considered rather important, as in their case the above-mentioned two groups do not only seem to have a common practice of deposit- ing human remains in round pits, but a fragment of an original, probably imported Kalakača vessel also showed up in feature 1-550 40 .

Concluding remarks: funerary behaviour of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in the Eastern Carpathian Basin

In order to shed some light on this yet unclear situ- ation, it is necessary to survey the funerary prac- tices of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin. As a result of the large-scale excavations in the last two decades, more and more human remains are known from non-funerary, mainly settlement contexts from our focus period and territory. With the difficulties of the cultural classification even of some ‘regular’ burials, and in absence of a proper relative chro- nology for that period, a reasonable analysis of the ‘irregular’ finds cannot be carried out for the mo- ment. At the present state of research one can only assert that the number of settlement complexes with human remains definitely increases 41 with a simul- taneous decline in the number of ‘normative’ or tra- ditional burials 42 .

35 TASIĆ 1972, 32.

36 Personal communication of D. Anđelić.

37 Archaeological evaluation by D. Anđelić; anthro- pological survey: ZOFFMANN in press.

38 Personal communication of D. Anđelić.

39 It is important to note that at the beginning of the 1990s J. Chochorowski linked the features found at the Bosut culture settlement of Hrtkovci-Gomolava (ZOFF- MANN 1997) and at the Late Urnfield settlement of Still- fried in Austria (BREITINGER 1980, 107; EIBNER 1980, 107; EIBNER 1988, 77; SZILVÁSSY et al. 1988; ZOFFMANN 2001; see also Griebl / Hellerschmid in this volume) to a hypothetical horizon dominated by violent attacks of the so-called Cimmerians (CHOCHOROWSKI 1993, 218–230). According to his thesis, the arrival of the steppe-people terminated the development of the former Late Bronze Age cultures. A very similar picture was drawn by G. Ilon as a result of the analysis of some skeletons from a pit of the Late Urnfield settlement of Gór-Kápolnadomb in Hungary (ILON 2001, 248 f.; anthropological analy- sis by Zs. K. Zoffmann: ZOFFMANN 2001, 270; ZOFF- MANN 2006b, 156). C. Metzner-Nebelsick argued that the mass graves in question “can also be seen as signs of internal conflict, since no significantly ‘Cimmerian’ or steppe bound artefacts can be associated with them” (METZNER-NEBELSICK 2010, 128 note 28). The presence of violent action was only proved in the case of the out- standing mass grave of Stillfried (CHOCHOROWSKI 1993, 219–221; WILTSCHKE-SCHROTTA 2006, 414).

40 URÁK / MARTA 2011, 160.

41 Main publication in English: TASIĆ 1972; in Ser- bian: TASIĆ 1972 / 1973. – Anthropological analyses of the second pit: FARKAS 1972 / 1973; FARKAS / MARCSIK 1976; ZOFFMANN 1997.

42 KIRÁLY 2012, 119–123.

322 Ágnes Király, Katalin Sebők, Zsuzsanna K. Zoffmann and Gabriella Kovács

Human remains within Late Bronze and Early Iron Age settlements usually turn up in different states of decay, as complete skeletons, skeletal re- mains of articulated bodies or body parts, single and fragmented bones and cremated remains. In the case of the Gáva culture the sequence is clearly dominat- ed by complete skeletons (almost 40 %) of both sex- es and all age ranges, and the position of the bodies often shows signs of intentional placing 43 . None of the examined bones shows either traces of violence or taphonomic lesions 44 , which means that these people, just like the ones at Pusztataskony, most likely suffered a natural death, and their bodies were immediately buried or at least protected against the weather and kept out of the reach of carrion eaters. Exactly the same situation was sketched out for the Early Iron Age of the Balkan area by S. C.

Ailincăi and his colleagues 45 . Considering their re- sults it is likely, that – beginning at the latest phase of the Bronze Age of the Eastern Carpathian Basin and its southern neighbourhood – a radical change takes place in mortuary treatment, while a sporadic survival of traditional burial customs is still observ- able. The new practice involves at least a temporary putrefaction of the dead in settlement complexes. It still remains a question however, whether this ele- ment is really a part of the funerary cycle or only

a random way of disposing of particular members

of the same, or maybe of a different (hostile) com- munity. Burial – a generally used but often misconceived term – is hard to define. Most of the languages face

the problem that the funerary practice is expressed by a word that fundamentally describes the act of putting something – usually the corpse – into the ground (Engl. burial; Germ. Bestattung; Fr. enterre- ment; Hun. temetés). Actually, burying is only one

possible way to dispose of the corpse, but the notion

is obviously burdened by our own modern concepts,

making it even harder to understand the mortuary

behaviours of past people.

For most human communities, biological death caused by natural or violent events is followed by

a transitional phase called funerary cycle. The ele-

ments of a particular funerary cycle depend on sev- eral choices of the mourning community: e. g. on the positive or negative valuation of the deceased’s personality or on the circumstances of his / her death. The cycle may consist of different methods of corpse treatment like washing the dead, eviscera- tion, embalming, active or passive excarnation of the body, cremation or primary burial. The liminal phase that begins with the biological death ends with the social death of the deceased and the final depo- sition of the cadaver, but it is crucial that this ac- tion does not necessarily involve the placing of the corpse in the ground 46 . Depending on the particular community, a final resting place may be located in-

dividually or in groups, in- or outside of a cemetery or a settlement, in archaeologically visible or invis- ible contexts. Certain groups may also practice ter- tiary burial or manipulate the human remains taken from their primary burial context. These are acts of “extra-funerary formation processes” (according to the terminology of E. Weiss-Krejci) 47 . Several examples of multistage funerary cycles that may appear archaeologically as secondary col- lective burial features are known from both prehis- toric and historic times. One of the most famous examples is the delayed collective burial practice of some particular prehistoric American tribes, e. g. the Potomacs 48 or the Virginian mound builders 49 . Some of these communities buried their dead only at specified occasions once a year or even several years. The individuals who had died between two collective burials were stored somewhere for the next occasion, usually underground, therefore they entered the final funerary context with their cadav- ers in different states of decomposition. Other case studies, for example from the Middle Ages draw the attention to the role of temporary storage preced- ing long-distance transport of the corpse in a soci- ety where the system of beliefs is highly focused on sacred lands and kinship 50 . However, one must be constantly aware that none of these distant analo- gies should be used as a direct model to explain the deposits of Pusztataskony, not least because these assemblages cannot be considered as secondary burials with certainty, as they lack the majority of indicators 51 . The information currently available on the Pusz- tataskony features represents only a small part of the data required to determine their place in the funerary cycle of the Early Iron Age. Perhaps it will never be possible to reveal the reasons or to reconstruct the particular – and presumably extraordinary – social situation that included the exhumation of primary burials and the collective, seemingly careless act of clearing away the more or less decomposed remains. The presence of similar features with semi-decayed corpses in individual or collective graves, probably

43 KIRÁLY 2011, 115–177.

44 Ibid. 118.

45 AILINCĂI et al. 2005 / 2006, 92–94; AILINCĂI 2008, 27–28; 30 f.

46 WEISS-KREJCI 2011, 71–76.

47 Ibid.

76;

postfuneral

processes:

WEISS-KREJCI

2005a, 168–170; WEISS-KREJCI 2005b, 48; 53.

48 UBELAKER 1974, 120.

49 DUNHAM et al. 2003, 122–125.

50 WEISS-KREJCI 2005a, 168 f.

51 Listed

in

CARR / KNÜSEL

1997;

DUDAY

OLSEN / SHIPMAN 1994, 384 f.

1978;

Early Iron Age ‘Mass Graves’ in the Middle Tisza Region: Investigation and Interpretation

323

as secondary interment, in sites at great distances from each other, however, suggests that this kind of funerary practice may have spread to large areas or at least reached several places at great distances at the turn of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Nevertheless, the detection of the origins and the agents of this custom – if it is really a custom – requires further archaeological and anthropological investigations.

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