Organisation of funerary areas and character of burial practices at Pohansko near Břeclav (based on a comparison of the cemetery around the second church and the dispersal burial grounds in the stronghold’s southern suburb)

Renáta Přichystalová 1
  • 1 Ústav archeologie a muzeologie, Filozofická fakulta Masarykovy univerzity, 602 00, Brno

Abstract

At the early medieval site Břeclav – Pohansko we can distinguish two different types of funerary areas: church cemeteries with clearly defined locus sacer and dispersed burial grounds in settlements, where the boundary between the living and funerary spaces is not clearly defined. The organisation of the area for funerary activities, the selection of the burial place and the homogeneity of applied burial rites in the above-mentioned two types of funerary areas were different. In order to find out how extensive this difference is, we chose several characteristics of funerary areas and compared them with one another. The key determinants were: the spatial structure of funerary areas, and the orientation and position of individuals buried in grave pits. As an example of a church cemetery we chose the cemetery around the second church in the North-Eastern Suburb of Pohansko. The Southern Suburb of the stronghold yielded data related to funerary areas dispersed in and between settlement structures. The comparison of selected characteristics of burial customs identified in the above-mentioned church cemetery and in dispersed cemeteries demonstrates that burials around churches were most probably organised and planned centrally and that the organisation and supervision of funerary activities might have been in the hands of the clergy. The burials in cemeteries within the settlement structure, on the other hand, were organised in accordance with customs of local community. The organisation and supervision of these funerary areas were most probably in the hands of persons approved and authorised by the community, maybe some significant community member, or the “Council of Elders” or pagan priests.

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