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A.G.Brusnitsyna. Burials at the ZelenyYar Site*


The medieval Zeleny Yar burial site, which has been excavated by the Yamal Archaeological Expedition of the Institute of History and Archaeology, has a complicated structure. First of all, it is necessary to explain why there are o­nly child and male burials o­n the site. At the same time, the well-preserved mummified remains, fur clothing and wooden constructions found in the graves give us a unique possibility to reconstruct many details of the burial rite which hitherto had been unknown. The culture of the indigenous Northern Ob population had a special attitude towards children and childhood, a factor reflected in the burial rites. Archaeologically, this aspect of the ancient and medieval cultures of North-West Siberia has practically not been studied.

This study is based o­n the material of 11 diggings (from infancy to 7-9 years of age) and two teenage burials. Four graves contained the mummified remains of children from 1,5 to 7 years of age, elements of fur clothing and shoes, parts of wooden and birch burial constructions. Besides giving a general picture of the child burials at the site, this paper will speak of the changeability of this category of burials as far as the details of the implements are concerned, variations in the position of the bodies of the dead, a comparative analysis of the burial rite for the children and the adults will be given, some retrospective constructions will be given with the help of ethnographic, anthropologic, molecular and genetic data.

*The work was performed with the support of the RFBR grant 02-06-96421

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