Grav och kultplats : Eskatologiska föreställningar under yngre bronsålder och äldre järnålder i Östergötland : [eschatological conceptions during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in Östergötland]

Sammanfattning: This thesis focuses on archaeological evidence of eschatological conceptions, during theLate Bronze Age and the Pre-Roman Iron Age in southern Scandinavia. There is a greatdeal to suggest the prehistoric find sites we usually call cemeteries also had an importantfunction as cultic sites. Several types of structure occurring at cemeteries from the LateBronze Age and the Early Iron Age speak in favour of a broader interpretation of these sites.The thesis is based on results from excavations in the county of Östergötland in general andof results from the excavated cultic and burial site at Ringeby, RAÄ 6 in Kvillinge parish,Östergötland, in particular. The Ringeby excavation has been able to illuminate in severalways the problem of burials and cultic sites in a partly new way, allthough the results shouldnot be considered an isolated phenomenon. There are reasons to believe the eschatologicalconceptions to have been relatively similar in the south Scandinavian area, during the actualperiod.In this thesis the designation grave is used for features which, according to our resent-day reference system, are perceived as burial places. A cardinal point in my reasoning, however, is that features which are interpreted in an archaeological field situation as `graves' need not have been made solely for that purpose. Although modern and ancient graves share the feature of containing remains of the dead, the underlying intentions may differ significantly. Often there is only a symbolic quantity of bone in the grave. It is reasonable to regard the burning of the body as the central element in a tradition with cremation burial, the aim of which may have been to release the soul from the dead body. The burial of some of the bones could therefore have been a supplementary ritual based on a complex belief in the soul, with the dead person being associated with more than one aspect of the soul.The ritual of cremation is divided into at least two stages: the burning of the corpse andthe subsequent treatment of the remains. It is reasonable to assume that the actual cremationwas a matter of great significance for the continued destiny of the deceased. One hypothesiswould be to regard the actual grave construction, the bones, and the other material whichaccompanied the remains of the deceased as being associated with his or her role in life,while what was released by the cremation was considered the vital force itself. The vitalforce was believed to pass on, perhaps coming back into the world of the living. This viewallows a plausible interpretation of the function of the burial places as cultic sites and of theoften close spatial relationship between habitations and graves. The cemetery and thecremation place may have been regarded as power centres for everyday life. The power ofthe dead was active there, and certain everyday activities were believed to depend on it.

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