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The Odd, the Unusual, and the StrangeBioarchaeological Explorations of Atypical Burials$
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Tracy K. Betsinger, Amy B. Scott, and Anastasia Tsaliki

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781683401032

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401032.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

What Is the Norm?

What Is the Norm?

“Irregular” and “Regular” Burial Practices of the Early Iron Age in Central Europe

(p.170) 9 What Is the Norm?
The Odd, the Unusual, and the Strange

Nils Müller-Scheessel

Carola Berszin

Gisela Grupe

Annette Schwentke

Anja Staskiewicz

Thomas Tütken

Joachim Wahl

University Press of Florida

Despite great variability, most burials of the Early Iron Age in Central Europe exhibit a high degree of standardization. Richly furnished graves consist of wooden chambers furnished with grave goods like chariots, vessels, and other objects, while less “rich” burials—clustered in “regular” cemeteries—show the same orientation to the south as well as regularly reappearing objects like weapons or ornaments. Because of these strict rules, scholars have accepted such burials as “the norm,” and any other form of deposition of the dead as “abnormal,” hinting at macabre customs like cannibalism or sacrifice. This chapter analyzes one kind of Iron Age deviant burial, those in settlement pits, discussing bioarchaeological and isotopic analyses, a reassessment of archaeological evidence, and a comparison with normative burial practices. The dead in settlements belonged to at least three social categories, each probably considered incomplete in some way and unfit to be buried in regular cemeteries: very small children, adolescents, and other individuals that had suffered an untimely or “bad” death, and individuals of low social standing.

Keywords:   Central Europe, Iron Age, Settlement pit, Burial, Social standing, grave

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