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Astrom

Astrom

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Published by: Manos George Lambrakis on Dec 04, 2011
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INTENTIONAL

DESTRUCTION

OF GRAVE GOODS

As early as the preceramic Neolithic period in Cyprus grave fumiture was intentionally destroyed. Sorne stone bowls at Khirokitia were "ceremonially broken" -to use Dikaios' wordsand placed under and on top of the deceased, more frequently on women than on men 1. This phenomenon -the de1iherate destruction of objects in tombs- is a subject which is worth sorne consideration. 1shall discuss the Cypriote Bronze Age evidence first and will then mention parallels from elsewhere. ln tombs of the Early and Middle Cypriote Bronze Ages bronze weapons such as knives, swords and daggers and occasionally a needle were sometimes hem or "killed" 2. A dagger was in one instance driven into the floor of the tomb and then hem (Pl. LIlI). This was the case in a tomb excavated by an expediton under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum at Lapithos and published by Virginia Grace 3. It was placed near the entrance to the tomb. Miss Grace pointed out that no "proper weapon was found with the man in the east niche, and his may have been saved for this use". It is as if the living by driving the dagger into the tomb took a last farewell of the deceased. Unfortunately the skeletons at Lapithos associated with these finds were badly preserved, so little can be said about the position of the bronzes in relation to the skeletons.
(1) P. DIKAIOS, Khirokitia (1953), p. 339. 1 believe that the stone bowls may have been placOO on the graves to prevent the dead from reappearing. Sorne time after death has occurrOO, the body swells and this could cause the earth above the body to rise slightly above the ground. The fear of the dead, terrar mortis, may have causOO the living to place a stone on the dead. Cf. S. BERG, R. ROLLE, H. SEEMANN, Der Archiiologe und der Tod (1981), p. 74. According to Karin Niklasson the deliberate smashing of the stone bowls making them useless may be due to a wish to give the stone bowl the same status as the dead. (2) The examples are mentionOO in P. ÂSIROM, Examples from Lapithos, Pennsylvania The Middle Cypriote Bronze Age (1957), p. 275, n. 1. The Tombs 832A and 835A are recordOO by E. HERSCHER

Bronze Age Cemetery at Lapithos (Dissertation, University of Philadelphia, 1978). A bent needle was found in Ayios lakovos Tomb 8, n° 22, SCE l, pl. LXIII:1. See also SCE IV lA, index s.v. Lapithos, (3) Pennsylvania Tomb 6A and p. 387. AJA 44 (1940), p. 22 and p. 47, fig. 15-31; SCE IV IB, p. 293-294; Archaeological Symposium "The Relations 16th-22nd April 1978 (1979), p. 21-23, 42, 56-58; J.E. COLEMAN Archaeology in Cyprus 1960-1985 (1985), p. 139. Acts of the International (00.),

between Cyprus and Crete. ca 2000-500 B.C.", Nicosia in V. KARAGEORGHIS

An alternative explanation is that the corpse was sprinkled with sorne purplish matter. NIKLASSON in ASTROM. 1175 Re. Dr Ellen Herscher suggests that this was perhaps a result of ceremonial use 5. Dan Barag once suggested to me that the se breaks might have been a deliberate action. Chypre romantique 3rd 00. 545. these breaks in the vases may be the result of stones falling from the ceiling of the tomb. The deceased also had a gold bowl in his right hand. p. cit. incomplete. A bent pin occurred in Ayios lakovos Tomb 121 of Middle Cypriote ID 7. Karin Niklasson has observed that the jug has traces of purple colour on the sides found facing downwards. which was placOO upside down in the grave (op. cit. p. KARAGEORGIllS 67. The pin was corroded and 1 am not certain if it was intentionally or accidentally broken. For inverted cups see my paper in Journal of Prehistoric Religion 1 (1987). 1 have mentioned instances known to me. Vounous and Ayios lakovos. 169-213. 1 shall now pass on to comparative material from other areas. fig. This was a rich burial which contained the famous Zeus krater. p. (5) (6) (7) (8) HERSCHER. On the other hand. apparently a wealthy man. Several jugs found in Cypriote chamber tombs have a break. The jug was discovered turned upside down. It should also be mentionOO that a broken. KESHISHIAN. A murex shell was placed on the middle of the chest of the deceased. SCE l. p. a hole. LXill:5 (nO28). it dates from Late Cypriote IIB2 in the latter part of the 13th century 6. It is possible that we here have an example of deliberate destruction of grave furniture. (00. op. a gold diadem and a gold mouthpiece in place. K.K.. 261 : "La tombe refermée. The vessel was apparently smashed after the body was covered. ils se lavent les mains avec de l'eau spécialement apportée à cet effet dans une jarre qui sera brisée et les morceaux laissés sur la tombe". HST . We encounter the phenomenon at Ras Shamra. p.). As the jug was found in pieces. a fact which may be of significance. 534-538). . This exposé of Cypriote examples may not be exhaustive. Another example of deliberate breaking may be found in a broken figurine which was found frre-blackened in a Middle Cypriote tomb at Lapithos. 204:9 (nO 78). The custom of smashing vases after the offering of libations survived in classical Hellenistic times in Attica and in Cyprus and it still persists in modern Greece and Cyprus 8. it was probably deliberately smashed before it was placed in the grave. on the side of the body. on top of a cloth which possibly covered the skeleton. TATION-BROWN in V. The skull has recently been examined by Dr Fischer who regards it as that of a man in old age. A silver gilt-pin was found broken into two pieces on the breast of a skeleton in Enkomi tomb 17. third burial group. ln the lower layer of tomb LN (4) K. pl. Archaeology in Cyprus 1960-1985 (1985). 343. ln a shaft grave at Hala Sultan Tekke dating from c. (1981). fig. fragments of a plain jug were found near the head of the skeleton. fig. 206.214 Paul ASTROM The practice is known in tombs at Lapithos. V. SCE J. faience bowl was found inside another faience bowl. to the right and to the left of the skull and above it 4.

in PpulCttlCtà 'tOû B' ÔtESVOÛÇ OUVEÔPlOU 7tEÀo1tovV11OlUlCCÎlV 07touôCÎlv. 131.F. fig. cil. p. en bronze plié formait comme un bracelet"9. and chambers of found in in quantities in the stomia by Verdelis and pins at Ras Shamra. known that broken kylikes were are found smashed in the dromoi the doorway and chambers tombs Il. n. in the latter case broken to fit into the small grave. L. Fouilles du Tépe-Giyan . cil. 9.and gold omaments were deliberately destroyed in a 1:>ogt Skedemosse on the island of Ùland. 18.141. Mycenaean Age . WIESNER. p. said that this might easily happen if the banes and accompanying examples useless in the Middle and Late Bronze a goblet Age of the from the grave to bone-pits.A. op. 133. Broken swords and rapiers etc. 310. 15. 209 with further references.. 157. MYLONAS.e. 50. at Pylos 18 and Nichoria in Messenia (9) Syria 19 (1938). p. 141 and 152. ln the frrst case cist tomb at stone idols have been found in an Early Helladic the figurine was found in a disturbed area outside a tomb. The Cuirass Tomb and Olher Finds al Dendra (SIMA IV [1977]). There are also other ex amples of bent metal weapons find circumstances It is well Mycenaean Fragments Mycenaean and the goblets are not given 10. See U. COUVE. p. Grab und Jenseils (1938). op. Ugarilica II (1949). cil. J. op. fig. CONTENAU. 147. p. chamber used for the purpose of the shattered chamber tombs. NIKLASSON. fig 229.INTENTIONAL DES1RUCTION OF GRAVE GOODS Schaeffer Schaeffer found a Cypriote does not comment a Cypriote dagger on a skeleton which was no longer 215 in situ. p. ÂS1RÙM. AnnScAlene 6-7 (1923-1924). WIESNER. 18:23A. p. ARBMAN. At Orchomenos was intentionally vessels were transferred of making grave and silver vases were smashed at other places. . op. 219. H. but on the right to state that arrn: "Autour du cubitus et du radius un poignard it is undoubtedly dagger. XXII:!' (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) C. p. WIESNER. p. p. p. 293.. p. 75. (1935). 133. 230. Similar finds have been made a in bogs in Denmark. ln tomb 13 at Dendra excavated and myselfwe 200 fragments representing Broken Attica 13 and at Amorgos about 40 stemmed cups in the stomion 12. WIESNER. Archiv fÜT Religionswissenschajl 24 (1926). . E. tomb at Ayios Kosmas 14. WIESNER.. (19) (20) See Nancy Wilkie's paper in the acts of this colloquium. cil. Hagberg's paper in the Symposium "Votives to the Goos" in Uppsala 1985 (forthcoming in the Boreas series) . ln the earliest cemeteries at Palaikastro in Crete and in a Middle Helladic Zerelia in Thessaly At Palaikastro Joseph practice destroyed the excavator Wiesner the handles of vases were broken before they were placed in the tomb 15. BSA 8 (1901-1902). also found at Miletos 17. For other examples see G. 72. MYLONAS. were 19 and at Ialysos on Rhodes 20. B P. 87. It is supposed cups are found that a toast was drunk in honour of the deceased against of the cham ber. p. gives several objects 16. G. 152. SCHAEFFER. Svear i oSlerviking (1955). K. fig. p. of the 16th century but the of on this strange bent form of the dagger. He proceeds dating from the 17th or beginning B. 7778. Weapons -mostly spears. Palace of Neslor III . pl. 112-113. p.. p. Aghios Kosmas (1959).. pl.. (1981-1982).E.

translated and edited by M. p. op.. (1982). p. p. Wiesner adds. see aIso the German edition IV:l. p. Early Metallurgy ln Cyprus 4000-500 B. Greek Burial Customs (1971). as though somehow or other the life had been broken out of them when they were interred in Early Cypriot III and Middle Cypriot burials" 23. S. ln one grave the blade was not coiled. Kerameikos ANDRONIKOS. Desborough asks the following questions: "How are we to interpret. the living could not use them. Thanatos (1985). ln conclusions one can follow several lines in interpreting the custom. p. Were the weapons destroyed to acquire the same status as the owner? But why were the weapons destroyed. 312.-G. n.. p. BOARDMAN. SWINY. A. 22. why bend and distort it to such an extent that it was obviously useless to him wherever he was? Or was the sword thought to have a life of its own. (22) (23) (24) (25) AJA 44 (1940).216 Paul ASTROM We also come across bent swords in Protogeometric and Geometrie Greece. while so many other objects were placed intact in the tombs ? An element of fear that the deceased might use the (21) D. Dark Ages. fig. cit. The repeated occurrences of the practice may suggest a final funerary rite. 00. p. they belonged to the dead. p. MERRILLEES. p. The blades of iron swords were coiled around the neck of vases in cremation burials. 312. Acta Archaeological Symposium. Il. seem unanswerable" 24.C. however. like so many others. Let us now try to find out the meaning of the phenomena which 1 have exemplified in this paper. to be extinguished when its owner died ? These questions.M. but folded. Totenku1t. R.. 28. BUCHHOLZ.. The Dark Age of Greece (1971). the curious habit of "killing" the sword ? If it was thought to be of possible use to the dead in the other life. It is. For use in the other world its condition does not matter. 62-63. n. possible that behind the custom the view persists that the dead could use the weapon against the living. 100. SNODGRASS. Virginia Grace said about the dagger which she published from Lapithos : "The gesture which killed the dagger seems to have been intented to terminate intercourse between living and dead in the tombs" 22. Robert Merrillees suggested that "sorne swords and daggers were deliberately bent. p. 142. ln Joseph Wiesner's opinion the dagger was the personal property of the dead and the survivors were not allowed to use it 25. 26. WIESNER. KURlZ. Larnaca 1981. DESBOROUGH. 279. ibidem. Examples of bent swords may be found in Athens and at Lefkandi 21. p. 170 and 180. cf. 80. and H. When objects were destroyed. 70.S. of the International . J.e. Hesperia 21 (1952).

BIRD. J. Folklore 96 (1985). It is suggested that the bending of Iron Age swords in Greece "was necessary in view of the small space into which Greek cremations were normally placed". "The Breaking of Objects as a Funerary Rite: Supplementary Notes". p. Folklore 84 (1973). 16. p.M. 475-491. 111-114.. The pottery in Tomb 1717 at Tell el-'Ajjul "was badly (it would appear deliberately) broken" : see RE. looting or lack of space may have been the reason for breaking the pots in this case. p.INTENfIONAL DESIRUCTION OF GRAVE GOODS 217 weapons is not excluded. 21-23. "The Ritual Breaking of Objects in Greek Funerary Contexts : A Note". . FOSSEY. GRINSELL. AnCÎent Gaza IV (1934). Paul ÂSTROM (26) After this paper was written 1became aware of the following articles: L. p. Grinsell quotes eleven different reasons for the breaking of funerary objects. 1 end my paper with these questions. PEIRIE. Folklore 72 (1961). ID. "The Breaking of Objects as a Funerary Rite". in F.V. as 1 doubt that we shall ever know exactly what the ancient really thought in this matter 26.

AJA 44 (1940) p. Pennsylvania Tomb 6A. LIII: Rent dagger (al arrow) in Lapithos. 18.218 Paul ASlROM ILLUSTRAnON Pl. fig. . 15.

LIll .

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