• Scalvian warrior burial

      Scalvian warrior burial

      The virtual exhibition presents the material (burial 10) from one of 23 cremations and inhumations burials were excavated in a small Aeolian dune, in Viešvile. This cemetery belonged to a 10th – 11th century Scalvian community which exist in the territory of the Lower Nemunas. The cultural area ascribable to the Scalvians, a Baltic tribe, have been poorly investigated. The material from burial 10 is the basis for discussion of the special features of the funeral rites characteristic of the Scalvians. During the investigation, 86 finds were discovered in burial, the majority small fragments of partially melted ornaments and tools. Some of them are difficult to identify owing to their fragmentary nature. The content of the more intact grave goods shows that grave goods characteristic of a warrior visibly dominate in the burial. An anthropologic investigation of the cremated bones showed that the burial contained a male over the age of 25 together with cremated female of indeterminate age, a cremated child of 5-10, and a cremated horse. The four separately placed groups of grave goods were sort of individualized and their own owner. The two swords, spearheads, knives, two symbolic bridle bits, penannular brooch, coil rings, and band rings found in one group belonged to a male. Grave goods characteristic of female were discovered in nearby group: twisted wire neck-ring fragments, flat bracelets, coil rings, and spinning tools. Horse tack: a bit, stirrups, and a buckle was placed at a distance from all of other grave goods. The fourth grave good pile, which should be ascribed to a child, contained small fragments of a twisted wire neck-ring, part of a ladder brooch, pins with open work and spiral heads, fragments of a flat bracelet, and coil ring.
      The burial custom, where a child or female accompanies a male into the afterlife, is very clear in Viešvilė cemetery. This custom is well known from the Vikings who lived in present-day Scandinavian territory, in Western Balts cemeteries. The remains of members of one family: a husband, a wife, and son or daughter, were probably discovered in burial 10. The burial of several individuals in one grave and the selection of the grave goods content found in it were conscious actions. Only family members or an individual of a different social status could accompany the main individual into the afterlife as a sacrifice. The abundant grave goods placed in the grave for the dead only strengthens this aspect.
      Viešvilė cemetery, burial 10, is not exception in the full context of Viešvilė cemetery and is a good representative of Late Iron Age Scalvian funeral rites. At the same time it and the grave goods discovered in it are important sources for learning about the 10th-11th century Scalvian community.

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