Das Grab als Haus – das Haus als Grab

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Iron Age burials frequently exceed the minimum that is required to bury someone in them, even if one wants to send the deceased off with grave goods. Particularly the well-known “princely” tombs of the Late Hallstatt period are reminiscent of a cosy living room; fancy furniture included. That graves are ‘houses of the dead’ is a widely used metaphor, which would not be particularly surprising in the Iron Age either. Yet, other regions of the European Iron Age, not least much of the British Isles, are characterised by a distinct absence of ‘regular’ burial in cemeteries. In those regions, one rather finds quite frequently human remains or burials in settlement contexts. To make a distinction between house (or settlement) and grave (or cemetery) is difficult in such areas: if the grave is in the house, the house is also a grave. Particularly in the west of the British Isles, it also increasingly seems as if houses themselves were ‘buried’ at the end of their lifecycle, or served as graves as the last function in their lifecycle. In this contribution, it will be discussed to what extent the inhabitants of late prehistoric central and western Europe considered graves as ‘houses of the dead’ and their own houses as their own (future) graves.

Keywords

  • Iron Age, burial practice, belief, religion, Europe, Ireland
Translated title of the contributionThe grave as a house - the house as a grave
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages17
JournalMitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft Wien
Volume145
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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