The Pit Grave Culture in the Balkans (Dynamics of the Structure of the Burial Rites and Its Relation to the Other Early Bronze Cultures) Cover Image
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Ямная культура на Балканах (Динамика структуры погребального обряда и соотношение с другими культурами ранней бронзы)
The Pit Grave Culture in the Balkans (Dynamics of the Structure of the Burial Rites and Its Relation to the Other Early Bronze Cultures)

Author(s): Lolita Nikolova
Subject(s): History, Archaeology, Cultural history, Social history, Ancient World
Published by: Издательский дом Stratum, Университет «Высшая антропологическая школа»

Summary/Abstract: The Pit Grave Culture (PGC) was distributed in the Balkans as a result of migration from the Northern Black Sea. From the latest fourth and in the third millennium BC it occupied with different intensity Muntenia, Oltenia and Northern Dobroudja in Romania, Northern and Southeast Bulgaria, Eastern Serbia and Banat in Yugoslavia and Albania. The Tumulus burial ritual characterized the Pit Grave Culture but in the Balkans it was specific of different Early Bronze cultures (Baden, Vučedol, Coţofeni and possibly Ezero). The burial ritual of the PGC in the Balkans was characterized by a system of stable elements that occurred in different combinations. However, in the areas far away from the core of its development those elements were transformed and a new system emerged – peculiar and innovative itself. In North-East Thrace (South-East Bulgaria) the PGC was distributed in the milieu of the Ezero culture. Recently, Golyama Detelina II Tumulus, Mednikarovo and Dolno Sakhrane Tumulus cemeteries have well demonstrated the dynamic of the structure of the burial rites of PGC population – active interactions with the local population and a transformation of the burial ritual. The data from Northern Bulgaria (Plachidol, Goran-Slatina and Knezha-Turnava groups) have given a possibility of some statistic analysis of the ritual and have posed the problem whether the Tumulus cemeteries had belonged to different PGC household or to different clans. For the analysis of the burial ritual of special interest was the pit equipment and the stone constructions in particular, types and variants if the inhumations, existence of double inhumations, the grave inventory, etc. To the west, the Tumulus graves of the PGC from Banat have showed a tendency of a preservation of the main elements of the PGC ritual. The types of body position and especially crouched inhumations on their back, floor covering, pit coverings, silver pendants belonged to the burial standard. But the disappearance of the stone constructions (structures?), the absence of numerous graves in the tumuli, wooden wheels etc. used to characterize the transformation of the ritual, in the light of the recent evidence. A question of primary importance is the relation of the PGC to the local Balkan Early Bronze Age cultures. It should be stressed that the PGC was distributed in the period of the prosperity of the local cultures based on the increased distribution of the bronze metallurgy, development of the agricultural and stockbreeding structures and increased multi-aspect exchange of goods. In this context, the recent data from the Balkans have increased the information about the PGC, on the one hand. On the other hand, it is obvious that the PGC did not spread over all the Balkan territories in the third Millennium BC as many local agricultural and stockbreeding or semi-pastoral communities have stable social-economic structures characterized by a density of the settlement and demographic systems. Then, the recent data showing the distribution of the PGC in the Balkans should not be overviewed. In fact, the population of the PGC was gradually integrated with the local population and the ritual as a system decreased toward new Tumulus burial rituals from Late Bronze Age in the Balkans. At the same time, in the third Millennium BC the population of the PGC occupied some territories in the Balkans rather intensively. It was involved in the dynamic and very developed EB culture system of the local cultures, possibly resulting in the development of the social stratification among the PGC society (for instance Goran-Slatina cemetery). Then, different types of the territories of the relations between the PGC and the local EB cultures can be defined. The ethno-cultural base of the latter was the transformed Balkan society from the Final Copper Age. Unfortunately, there are a lot of breaks in the record in that development from the earlier fourth Millennium BC, but the recent data make it possible to believe the milieu of the Balkan population was connected with the earlier prehistoric cultures developed there.

  • Issue Year: 2000
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 423-458
  • Page Count: 36
  • Language: Russian