RAEV B.A. Sarmatian Graves with Hiding-Holes in the Bottom of Pits in Kurgan Cemeteries of the Lower Volga Region

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.4.13 

Boris A. Raev

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Laboratory of Archeology, Federal Research Centre The Southern Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Chekhov St, 41, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article discusses one of the types of hiding-holes that were made in Sarmatian graves of the Lower Volga region. Hiding-holes as a substantial element of a graves structure are typical for Sarmatian burials of the last century BC and the first centuries AD. They were built in the burial pit, as well as near it, as a rule, in the west soil. In the burial pit, these were usually made as niches in the bottom parts of the walls, though hiding-holes in the bottom of the graves are characteristic only for the Lower Volga region.

Methods and materials. There are not very many graves with hiding-holes in the Volga Region – eight in total, and none of them have been found in the neighboring regions, or only single cases are known. Archive data on excavations of the kurgans in the region allows the author to specify some essential construction details of the graves with hidingholes. These holes were dug out in the bottom of the grave pits; they are round in shape, 0.3–0.5 m in diameter and 0.3–0.6 m in depth. A deceased was placed over the holes. A principal item always placed in all hiding-holes is a bronze cauldron, which in some cases is accompanied by other types of metal and ceramic vessels. The author comprehensively applies several scholarly methods of archaeological research. The first stage of collecting and initial processing of material included methods of external and internal analysis of sources taking into account professional characteristics of researchers. The primary classification method based on the similarity of objects, as well as the traditional method of comparative typology, was used at the interpretation stage. The interpretation of materials also required the use of the classical method of extensive parallels including ethnological examples.

Results. Among the burials with hiding-holes in the bottom of the pits, the majority were burials of women. Considering not only the ordinary but also the sacred meaning that was attached to the cauldrons by the nomads of Eurasia, the author concludes that the hiding-holes in the bottom of Sarmatian graves blocked out by the body of the deceased, served not only as a secret place for treasures but had some others cult significance.

Key words: Early Iron Age, Lower Volga, Sarmatians, burial structures, hiding-holes, bronze cauldrons.

Citation. Raev B.A. Sarmatian Graves with Hiding-Holes in the Bottom of Pits in Kurgan Cemeteries of the Lower Volga Region. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 200-213. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.4.13.

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Sarmatian Graves with Hiding-Holes in the Bottom of Pits in Kurgan Cemeteries of the Lower Volga Region by Raev B.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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