View Full Version : Burial Traditions in the Late Prehistoric and Early Medieval Island of Saaremaa

Thursday, December 1st, 2005, 03:12 AM
Marika Mägi[/B]

Abstract - Even though pre-historic burials have been the favourite topic of research of Estonian archaeologists at least for the past century, the focus has been on their appearance, chronology, ethnic context and objects discovered in them. Burial tradition, as it reflects in the archaeological remnants, has hardly been studied.

Research in the field over the past few years, as well as osteological analysis of bone material, which was first carried out in the 1990s, has introduced new findings in the funeral customs of our ancestors. The article examines funeral customs on the island of Saaremaa, and the ideology behind it. The main focus is on the final centuries of the prehistoric period and the beginning of the Middle Ages – more specifically, on changes brought along by Christianity, although the study also provides an overview of earlier customs.

A separate chapter discusses the partial distribution of bones and objects in graves, objects determining the boundaries of graves, and traces of funeral rituals. This evidently reflects a set of traditions, and thus also conceptions about the otherworld, composed of multiple layers and differing considerably from the modern funeral tradition. Christianisation of the population of Saaremaa in the 13th century changed these conceptions beyond recognition over a very short period of time.

Source: http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/