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Stratum plus. 1999. № 5

V. I. Kulakov (Moscow, Russia)


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Pages: 211-273

The article offers for scientific use the findings of a Middle Age burial site study. Irzekapinis is the ancient name (Prussian ‘graves of rowing men’) of the burial site close to Klintzovka village in Zelenograd Raion in the North East of Kaliningrad peninsula (ancient land of Sambia). It is a ground burial site, the burials being made through cremation rite. The excavation found 163 graves. The findings both inside the burials and on the surface show that chronologically the site belongs to a period from V to the beginning of XII century A. D. at least. Besides the graves, a shrine belonging to the second half of X century was discovered within the excavated part of the site. The shrine is believed to have been used for funeral ceremonies. Ceremony reconstruction: cremations were made outside, then the bones were brought to the site in a ceramic or bronze vessel

and poured out into the grave, the lowest  level of which had a horse skin buried earlier. The vessel then was dropped into the grave near the bones. There were fragments of other vessels (with funeral gifts?), weapons, household items and labour tools found in the graves. Quite many findings had fire traces on them. The fact that quite scarce objects of female decoration were found in the graves along with weapons and war horses suggests accompanying female burials present here. This ceremony emerges among the Prussians in VI century A. D. and persists till XIII century. The development of burial rite with the Prussians according to the Irzekapinis findings suggests creation of a military organization here, fully independent of tribal and early bodyguard structures. The Western (late IX – late X centuries) and Eastern (end of X – beginning of XI – late XI centuries) bodyguard groups of the site provide evidence for such organization. The article contains a catalogue of burials found in Irzekapinis, provides an integral typology of the burial artifacts and grounds for chronology of the site.

Information about author:

Kulakov Vladimir  (Moscow, Russia). Doctor of historical sciences. Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
E-mail: [email protected] 

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