HOME English version

Abstract : Programme : Organizing Committee : Participants : Travel to Sibiu: Travel in Sibiu : Poster

7 th International Colloquium of Funerary Archaeology

Al 7-lea Colocviu internaţional de arheologie funerară

Topic : “The society of the living – the community of the dead” (from Neolithic to the Christian era)

Tema: „Societatea celor vii”- „comunitatea celor care dorm” (din neolitic la epoca creştină)

Sibiu 6-9 october / octombrie 2005

Unusual inhumation in Gumelnitsa settlements in the northeastern part of the Romanian plain (abstract)

Stănică Pandrea (Brăila - Romania)

It is a common fact that the funerary practices of the Gumelnitsa culture are extremely various. However, besides the normal funerary practices, the archaeological researches revealed a lot of information attesting a number of unusual funerary practices, namely the inhumations in the settlements (under or between the houses), deposits of skulls and human bones in pits or domestic areas.
We need to state, from the beginning, that the inhumations in the settlements and the deposits of skulls and disparate human bones are not current funerary practices, as long as in the Gumelnitsa culture area, there are also necropolises. Next, we are going to present, systematically, this category of findings, hoping to decipher, at least partially, the significance of the human bodies deposits and disparate human bones in the settlements of the Gumelnitsa culture.
Categories of deposits. The following categories of human bones deposits have been identified: inhumations of entire human skeletons in connection; inhumations of fragmentary human bodies in connection; deposits of skulls; human bones not connected; disparate entire human bones; fragments of skulls; fragments of human bones.
Contexts of discoveries. The inhumations of human bodies and the deposits of human bones were found in different archaeological contexts: under the houses floor (human bodies – most of them, children, and skulls deposits); between the houses (inhumations of entire human bodies or parts of them – most of them belonging to adult females); in pits and domestic areas (fragments of skulls, disparate bones and fragments of bones – most of them bear traces of interventions or manipulation).
Anthropological remarks. The anthropological analysis revealed two types of situations: a) a lot of skeletons bear traces of diseases that caused disabilities or severe handicaps; b) the skulls, the disparate human bones and the fragments of bones/skulls bear traces of interventions (breaks, blows, cutting).
Opinions and interpretations. Deciphering the significance of such categories of discoveries is difficult, as long as the archaeologist has to take into account two factors: the archaeological context and the anthropological analysis.
These types of discoveries have been differently interpreted so far: a) funerary practices (I.T. Dragomir, E.Comşa); b) display of the corpse followed by the inhumation of certain parts of it (J. Chapman); c) practices that aren’t linked neither to the funerary domain, nor to the custom of displaying the corpses (J. Makkay); d) indices of a skull cult (there are obviously skull deposits made on purpose); e) signs of anthropophagic type activities (M. Séfériades).
We think that, in the present stage of the research, the scholars have to find more explanations for such diversity of findings and archaeological contexts.
Our opinion is that every category of treatments on the entire human skeletons, or the disparate human bones stands for a certain type of special practices which, at their turn, if they are well explained give us the opportunity to decipher the religious, mythological, social conceptions which are the basis of these practices.


International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences


The 30th comission

"Lucian Blaga" University Sibiu

Research Centre:

„BRUKENTHAL” National Museum


History Museum (MNBS)

Directia judeţeană pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Sibiu



For further information, please contact:

Prof.univ.dr. Sabin Adrian Luca: E - mail: sabinadrianluca@hotmail.com

Dr. Valeriu SIRBU: E - mail: valeriu_sirbu@yahoo.co.uk