SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF FOREST-STEPPE POPULATION OF THE LEFT-BANK OF THE DNIEPERLAND DURING THE CLASSICAL SCYTHIA (the 2nd half of 6th—4th/3rd century BC)


Keywords: funeral rites, social stratification, Forest-steppe Dnieper, Scythians

Abstract

The main goal of the article was to present a new method of analysing and interpreting the role of selected aspects of funerary rites in reconstructing the social structure of the inhabitants of the forest-steppe areas of the left-bank Dnieperland between the 2nd half of the 6th and 4th/3rd century BC. The source database for this paper consists of 247 grave complexes. In the first stage of research, an attempt was made to determine which elements of the mortuary practices could be regarded as a reliable source for social analysis. The evaluation was based on the previous publications on the matter, historic sources (The Histories of Herodotus), and new observations concerning funerary customs of the analysed societies. It was concluded that the most reliable indicator of the position of a deceased in a social hierarchy is the amount of effort (energy expenditure) devoted by mourners to build a grave structure and organize funeral ceremonies. The the amount of work needed to construct a funerary complex can be deduced from the size and complexity of a grave and a burial mound, as well as «richness» and diversity of grave goods. In some cases, presence, or absence, of selected mortuary practices (such as accompanying horse and human burials) could also be useful. The aim of the second stage of the analysis was to propose a new classification of the funerary complexes of the studied communities. The method of systematization was based on a theoretical framework of the processual archaeology and review of written historical sources. Grave complexes were classified using statistical methods (multivariate data analysis). The evaluations resulted in identifying various classes of graves, which can be assigned to individuals occupying a specific place in social structure. One of the most important characteristics of the obtained classification of grave complexes is its hierarchical organization — the subsequent classes could be characterized by decreasing energy expenditure devoted to constructing a grave, and increasingly «poorer» grave goods.

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Published
2021-04-24
How to Cite
Burghardt, M. (2021). SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF FOREST-STEPPE POPULATION OF THE LEFT-BANK OF THE DNIEPERLAND DURING THE CLASSICAL SCYTHIA (the 2nd half of 6th—4th/3rd century BC). Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 41(4), 11-26. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2021.04.01