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 Burials: collectif versus indivual.

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Burials: collectif versus indivual.   Tue 25 Apr 2017, 22:07

Sparked by a documentary about Stonehenge. Specifically about the period of I think the Bell beaker people. And the examination of the "76?" of the individuals, who were originally buried in single graves due to the new customs of the Bell beaker new societies, who were otherwise in their customs to the Neolithical people with collective graves for their dead?
Did some research and will give first the sites of my research before to comment them tomorrow as it is too late in that part of the globe to make an elaborate comment about it all.
But even a preliminary question:
Was it due to another social structure? The Neolitics living in an egalitarian society where all the members were burried collectively while belonging to the same small egalitarian tribe, extended family? And the Bell beaker ones yet "princes" and dominant individuals as such the leaders burried with more individual "honour" and more worthful grave gifts?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaker_culture
https://fphil.uniba.sk/fileadmin/fif/katedry_pracoviska/karch/MusArch/1_1/155-162.pdf
http://bellbeakerblogger.blogspot.be/p/beaker-burials.html
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol1/pp36-41
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/bronzeageman_01.shtml
http://www.britainexpress.com/History/prehistoric_monuments.htm#Henges
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440312003883
https://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/collective-burial-emphasizing-community-in-neolithic-spain/


Kind regards, Paul.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Burials: collectif versus indivual.   Wed 26 Apr 2017, 00:04

Oh Paul, you do ask some very big questions and, yes, it is a bit late to start any kind of comprehensive answer so here's a few points.

We have no idea what happened to the vast majority of the prehistoric dead. The Neolithic chambered tombs of the British Isles do indeed contain the remains of a number of individuals but it is unlikely that all of their dead were placed in there. There is huge variation in practice, there were many 'Neolithics', it is a mistake to imagine homogeneity over time and space, some were very local: some bodies were excarnated before burial, some were laid inside complete and fleshed but it seems that in most cases only body parts were deposited. Analysis of the age and sex of the remains suggest it was only a selection of the dead and we can only speculate by what criteria they were chosen. Some assemblages are extremely odd, in one in Orkney the bones suggest a selection bias towards older children and young adults and males and a prevalence of pathological conditions and violent trauma. To precis the authors of the report "This suggests, not an egalitarian society or contemporary ancestor worship, but a group selected for some reason related to disability or deformity". It seems reasonable to propose that the Neolithic was less socially stratified than the Bronze age but a society which could mobilise its members to produce the monumental constructions that it did, and the architecture of which implies inclusion/exclusion in terms of access, must have had some form of hierarchical structure.

That will do for tonight!
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Burials: collectif versus indivual.   Wed 26 Apr 2017, 22:10

Yes Ferval if you read my links it is very complex. However a practice of the Bell beaker people were I think individual burials and those from the Neolithicum were collectif?
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol1/pp36-41
Most of our fragmentary knowledge of the Beaker people comes from their burials. Unlike the Neolithic settlers, they buried dead in individual graves, a practice which has remained ever since, in one form or another, the prevailing burial rite in this country. Most Beaker burials are inhumations, sometimes under round barrows, accompanied by a few grave goods, (fn. 7) and the combinations of objects of different materials found in such graves enable similar objects from Middlesex to be correlated better than those of any succeeding prehistoric period.
And they speak also from a more Chalcolithic period to characterize them?
https://www.thoughtco.com/chalcolithic-period-copper-mettalurgy-170474


Kind regards, Paul.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Burials: collectif versus indivual.   Thu 27 Apr 2017, 00:49

Paul, Here we talk of the 'beaker package' or  'beaker burials' rather than 'Beaker people', it's highly contentious whether there was any large scale immigration of incomers or whether BA metalurgy and the Beaker ideology (in many ways a drinking cult so bound to be a big hit here) was brought to these islands by relatively small numbers of of entrepreneurial adventurers.

It's late so I am taking the liberty of quoting from the Scottish Archaeological Framework, an excellent and generally up to date resource. http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/node/1203

These are taken from the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age panel reports.  

The Scottish Chalcolithic
http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/content/chalcolithic-early-beaker-25th%E2%80%9322nd-century-bc-period-1


and on funeral practices:


http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/content/scarf-bronze-age-panel-report

Funerary rites

The same generalizations have been made for Scotland as for the UK regarding Bronze Age burials: that Neolithic ‘collective’ rites were succeeded by inhumation burial of individuals in the early Bronze Age, to be replaced by cremation as a rite, grouped in cemeteries in the later Bronze Age. There was, however, considerable regional and chronological diversity in mortuary practices.

Cremation in Scotland, as in the rest of UK, was widely practised. Cremation is evident during the Neolithic (e.g. in Quanterness tomb Orkney) but has, in the past, been overlooked, and conversely inhumation could have been quite widely practised throughout during the Bronze Age - so the dichotomy between the two is overstated. For example, the inhumation and cremation burials at Cnip, Uig, Isle of Lewis, appear to be roughly contemporary and were both deposited in the mid second millennium BC (Dunwell et al. 1995). Survival affects the visibility of inhumations, as burials often disappeared in acid soil conditions, but instances of inhumations appear in cists and pits, and in the middle and later Bronze Age, can be stratigraphically above cremation burials. Recent discoveries in the Western Isles and the Northern Isles (at the Links of Noltland) have revealed inhumation burials from the earlier Bronze Age.  At the Links of Noltland, Orkney a cemetery of 15-16 burials was discovered. if conditions of preservation had not been so favourable only evidence of cremation, and not inhumation, would have survived.

‘Individual’ burial is rarer than was thought previously; large cists can be re-entered and re-used over long periods of time (e.g. Sandfiold, Orkney) and contain a variety of individuals, cremated and inhumed, and cairns and barrows (and pyres) are frequently multiple - as increasingly detailed analysis is revealing. In some cases, ‘token’ cremation burials and partial inhumations (suggesting either the deposition of only part of the body or the later removal of pieces of bone from the mortuary context) suggest very different concepts of the body and the self to those prevalent today. Analysis undertaken in the past few decades is also revealing that animals are often buried too – Gavin MacGregor (2003) has postulated a predominance of pigs associated with inhumations and sheep with cremation. Thus, although rich single burials are known, perhaps suggesting the appearance of an elite, this is unlikely to have been the case in every region or during all periods of the Bronze Age. Most Scottish Bronze Age burials comprise small deposits of burnt bone without grave goods suggesting that the expression of personal status was not always a major concern and that other aspects of social identity may have been equally important.


And so to bed.............
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Burials: collectif versus indivual.   Thu 27 Apr 2017, 22:02

Thank you so much for all your effort Ferval. Quite fascinating stuff. And indeed showing how complex even "one" item of history is. I read it only skimmingly for the last half hour...
Sharpened my knowlegde as for instance about "inhumations"
https://www.britannica.com/topic/burial-death-rite#ref110692

Tomorrow more comments...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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