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Stratum plus. 2015. No.2

A. M. Smirnov (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)

“Looted” Dolmens of the Caucasus and the Bilocal Funerary Rite

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Pages: 111-118

The bulk of the Caucasian dolmens are empty by now without any burial contents survived inside them. As a consequence, the funerary ideology of these numerous sites still remains unclear. Traditionally among the scholars, these dolmens are perceived as collective tombs afterwards looted. Though that is without any evidence for the benefit of it because nobody studied the case of their robbery specifically as the archaeological phenomenon. Now the topic is put forward as the actual one because the conclusion were dolmens looted or not would strongly influence the choice of appropriate funerary ideology for the sites. The critical analysis gives us possibility to give up the idea of robbery as the reason for their emptiness. Instead, the author develops here the concept based on the comparative study of the repertoire of engravings on Caucasian dolmens and megalithic tombs of Old Europe. Emptiness of dolmens is explained introducing here the concept of the bilocal funerary rite, i. e. the rite with two loci of interments — instead of habitual one — successively replaced, where the first in time is thus of temporary use. When the human remains are shifted into the second locus the first one becomes empty, identified afterwards wrongly by scholars as looted.

Keywords: Caucasus, Europe, dolmen, robbery, collective interments, temple structure, bilocal funerary rite.

Information about author:

Aleksandr Smirnov
(Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences.
E-mail: [email protected]

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