The Politics of Placing the Dead in Bronze Age Transylvania
Type of Work
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
34, Part A
Where people bury their dead is a critical part of mortuary rituals. This paper examines the relationship between the placement of the dead within a landscape and the social roles of the dead in the lives of the living. We examine the distribution of mortuary sites in southwest Transylvania during the Early and Middle Bronze Age (2700–1500 BCE), a period of signiﬁcant socioeconomic transformation. We document a shift in the locations of cemeteries that is linked to the changing roles of the dead within society. During the Early Bronze Age, people placed their dead in highly visible tomb cemeteries in upland landscapes with access to metal and highland pasture. We argue that the living used mortuary practices to contest access to resources. During the Middle Bronze Age, however, people were primarily cremated and buried in ﬂat urn cemeteries in similar contexts as settlements. We argue that this transition signiﬁes changing institutions of metal procurement as well as a shift in the roles of the dead in the lives of the living. The analysis of cemetery placement has signiﬁcant potential for revealing the organization and evolution of how bodies are used for political purposes in a broad range of geographic and chronological contexts.
Quinn, Colin P.; Ciugudean, Horia; and Beck, Jess, "The Politics of Placing the Dead in Bronze Age Transylvania" (2020). Hamilton Digital Commons.
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