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Stratum plus. 2022. No3

V. K. Fedorov (Ufa, Russian Federation)

Black Pebbles, White Bones: On Some Ritual Objects from the Early Nomad Burials of the Southern Urals

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Pages: 281-304 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.55086/sp223281304

Accumulations of burnt pebbles are often found in burials of the early nomads. Such pebbles are called kumalak- stones in literature suggesting the purpose of fortune-telling or playing. But neither their size nor weight, nor their form is similar to real kumalaks. The key to understanding the purpose of these pebbles is that they are burnt. The article suggests that they are accessories of the “steam bath of the Scythians” for the ritual of the purification after burial. Although in some cases these pebbles could be used for fortune-telling as well. In female burials of the 4th—3rd centuries B. C. there are sets of long bones of wild animals, mostly hares and foxes. The bones are heavily glossed from prolonged use. They are associated with fortune –telling in the sphere of specific female interests — betrothed one, love spell, marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, as well as saving children and babies.

Keywords: early nomads, Southern Urals, burnt pebbles, kumalak-stones, ritual of purification, glossed bones, hare and fox bones, fortune telling, games, apotropai

Information about author:

Vitaliy Fedorov (Ufa, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute of Ethnological Studies named after R. G. Kuzeev, Ufa Federal Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Karl Marx St., 6, Ufa, 450077, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]
ORCID: 0000-0003-0643-8268


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