In Ukraine, a 1000-year-old cemetery with the dead adorned in massive necklaces and buckets near their feet has been discovered. Photos

By TravelWiseJan 27, 2024 10:01 AMNews
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In Ukraine, a 1000-year-old cemetery has been discovered
In Ukraine, a 1000-year-old cemetery has been discovered. Source: livescience.com

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of individuals buried with weapons such as axes, spearheads, and sword points, along with women buried wearing thick, twisted bronze rings around their necks, in an 11th-century cemetery near the village of Ostrov, south of Kyiv, Ukraine.

Researchers Vsevolod Ivakin and Vyacheslav Baranov presented their study of the remains at the Archaeological Institute of America, which took place on January 4-7 in Chicago, as reported by Live Science.

In 2017, the Ukrainian Institute of Archaeology conducted an expedition that led to the discovery of the Ostrovsky burial ground. From 2017 to 2022, during excavations, 107 inhumation burials from the late tenth to the eleventh centuries were uncovered. The uniqueness of the graves became apparent quickly. Unlike the unconventional funerary practices of Kievan Rus during this period, the graves were oriented to the south and west, rather than the north.

In Ukraine, a 1000-year-old cemetery with the dead adorned in massive necklaces and buckets near their feet has been discovered. Photos
In Ukraine, a 1000-year-old cemetery with the dead adorned in massive necklaces and buckets near their feet has been discovered. Photos. Source: livescience.com

The deceased were laid in a supine position (on their backs) with their limbs stretched out, and most graves contained the remains of wooden coffins. Funeral food remnants, such as chicken bones and eggshells, were found in the graves and in wooden buckets at the feet of some of the deceased. Some individuals were buried with highly valuable items, including slate spindles, bronze neck rings, bracelets, hemispherical brooches, cast bronze belt rings, kauri shell necklaces, and weapons like battle axes, knives, and spearheads.

While not an exact match, the orientation and funerary equipment showed a strong resemblance to the customs of tribes in the Western Baltic. Notably, none of the island graves were corpse burials, which differed from the West Baltic peoples who typically practiced cremation. Moreover, Baltic funeral customs usually did not include the presence of buckets.

Archaeologists suggest that these significant differences may be explained by restrictions on traditional funeral practices imposed by the Christian princes of Kyiv, particularly Volodymyr the Great (reigned 980-1015) and Yaroslav the Wise (reigned 1019-1054), as well as the Christianization process of the Baltic settlers in the region during the 11th century. The stone altar found at the cemetery could have been used for Christian or pagan rituals, or a combination of both.

Research at the site continued until 2022, but excavations were suspended due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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