Intramural infant burials in the Aegean Bronze Age. Reflections on symbolism and eschatology with particular reference to Crete
Photeini J.P. McGeorge στο H. Olivier (ed.) 2013. Le mort dans la ville. Pratiques, contextes et impacts des inhumations intra-muros en Anatolie, du début du Bronze à l’époque romaine, Istanbul 14-15 Novembre 2011 [2èmes Rencontres d’Archéologie de l’IFEA], Beyoglu/Istanbul, 1-19.
Περίληψη (στα Αγγλικά)
This paper reviews the cultural practice of intramural burials for infants in Greece, making reference to parallel practices in Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt. This age-old and widespread custom began with the earliest settled communities in the Near East and continued through the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age. Intramural burials in pits, cists and pots are known in Greece throughout the Bronze Age, whereas despite being relatively common on the mainland the practice barely impacted Crete until LMIA, the peak of Minoan trade exchanges with the Levant. In LMIA intramural pithos burials of infants occur, sporadically, at sites in East Crete and later in South Central Crete, while pit burials and a cist burial are known from LMIA at Knossos continuing until LMIII. Intramural burial was practiced for many millennia in different cultural and geographical settings, which may or may not suggest an underlying koine of belief, because given the complexity of human nature and the infinite variety of expression of human culture and beliefs there need not necessarily be a single explanation for this phenomenon at all times and in all places. In Crete, however, the context of some pithos burials seems to convey a funerary symbolism, which articulates the Minoans’ religious belief in rebirth and hope for an afterlife.