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Stratum plus. 1999. № 1

Hlobystina M. D. (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

The “Skull and head” ritual in the cultures of the North Eurasia in the early Holocene

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Pages: 326-333

The archaic “skull and head” ritual in the archaeological aspect was not subjected to a special interpretation, though its ethnographic analogue has a wide range of investigations, connected both with the ancient ritual of fertility and with a later ritual of a “thrown-down enemy”. From the point of view of the archaeological classification one can single out two types of objects, comparable with the “Skull and head” ritual: the interment of an isolated skull and the interment of a beheaded skeleton, recorded already in the Upper Palaeolithic of the North Europe (the site of Sungiri). To the monuments of the first type can be referred the burial of a young woman skull at the site of Modlona (Cargopolie), stuck on the pivot of one of the scaffolds of the pile-dwelings of Neolithic fishermen; the burial of an adult skull, surrounded by blades, in the grave by the village of Podostrojnoie ( Angara river); the burial of the skull in the cist grave on the Andronov cemetery Dry Lake (Enisei). It is supposed that the act of buring of an isolated skull was connected with the posthumas sacralization of the individual whose beheaded skeleton could be subjected to the religious cannibalism. The burials of the second type are very revealing: from the early Neolithic pair complex of different sex of the cemetery of Tsiklodrom (Baikal region) and the Neolithic burial of Vovnighi I (Ukraine). The possibility that in this case there takes place the burial of an isolated beheaded skeleton and the skull is left for further religious acts. It is mostly the female sex of the burials of the first type that attracts attention as opposed to the male burials of the second type. Together with this, the complexes of the first type are the most archaic, being connected with the acts of cannibalism, appeared on the base of the “social” cannibalism.


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