30. November 2016 – 02. Dezember 2016

Let the dead speak for the living

Late bronze and early iron age burials in southeast Europe - theoretical perspectives in balkan archeology

Workshop by Mario Gavranovic, Stefanos Gimatzidis, Michaela Lochner


The interpretation of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age societies in Southeast Europe is to a certain extent still based on the concept of cultural groups. Within the culture-historical paradigm, the identity of prehistoric communities was solely interpreted as collective manifestations of firm biological units or even “people of the same ethnicity”, downplaying dynamic social, economic, ritual and kin relationships. Identities are not conceived as multidimensional and fluid concepts, but as collective attributes reflected on material culture and illustrated by migrations of ancient people known to have inhabited the Balkan Peninsula from much later Greek and Roman texts. Further, the rather positivist processual perspective still approaches burial as something that can be categorized and statistically evaluated and overlooks ideological and ritual parameters that may distort this view. Hierarchies and other social relations are usually reconstructed on the material basis of tomb and artefact typologies and their spatial relations without the application of scientific analyses.

We wish to discuss burial rites in Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Balkan communities from a supra-regional Urnfield perspective and re-address the topic of the gradual adoption of cremations as a new social and ritual practice rather than in the framework of migration theories. At the same time, the focus will be on the social meaning of variability in burial rites, the appropriation of the reluctance to adopt new mortuary practices.

The colloquium will be organized within the annual panel “UK-Gespräche – Get Together” of the Urnfield Culture Network (UCN) and in the frame of the project “Burial”.