Grave goods


Grave goods

Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are the items buried along with the body.

They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into the afterlife or offerings to the gods. Grave goods are a type of votive deposit. Most grave goods recovered by archaeologists consist of inorganic objects such as pottery and stone and metal tools but there is evidence that organic objects that have since decayed were also placed in ancient tombs. [Ian Morris, "Death-Ritual and Social Structure in Classical Antiquity" (Cambridge, 1992; ISBN 0521376114)]

Some of the most famous and well preserved grave goods are those from ancient Egypt; there, people believed that goods buried in tombs could be used by the deceased in the afterlife. They also painted images of the deceased enjoying earthly life, working, and being in the company of family members; occasionally images of servants, called "ushabti", were placed in tombs to serve the deceased in the afterlife.

Where grave goods appear, grave robbery is a potential problem. Etruscans would scratch the word "śuθina", Etruscan for "from a tomb", on grave goods buried with the dead to discourage their reuse by the living. [Giuliano Bonfante and Larissa Bonfante "The Etruscan Language: an Introduction" (Univ. Manchester Press, 2002. ISBN 0-7190-5540-7); several examples collected] The tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun is famous because it was one of the few Egyptian tombs that had not been thoroughly looted (prior to its discovery by Carter, that is).

Ceremonies dedicating goods to the use of the dead are still practiced in some cultures today. Some East Asian peoples offer what are popularly known in English as "Hell Bank Notes" to the dead, believing that by burning these offerings of money, it will become available for the deceased to spend.

Analysis of the grave goods

The first stage analysis of the grave goods, helps determine: country, people, the society type, the town, cemeteries, etc., basically the sociological setting of the society. Even the 'cemeteries', or burials, and grave goods of a small 'suburb' of a town, may help determine the small society, mix of people and that subgroup's relationship with other countries, or peoples. Grave goods are often a reliable indicator of relative social status; archaeologists have compared the apparent workmanship, quantity, and costs of grave goods with the skeletal remains of the people buried in the tomb. Forensic indicators that can be read from the human remains tend to show that, while wealthy tombs had a roughly equal incidence of contagious and hereditary disease as lower status individuals, the tombs of the wealthy indicated substantially less evidence of biological stress during adulthood, with fewer broken bones or signs of hard labor. [John Robb 1 *, Renzo Bigazzi, Luca Lazzarini, Caterina Scarsini, Fiorenza Sonego, "Social status and biological status: A comparison of grave goods and skeletal indicators from Pontecagnano", in "American Journal of Physical Anthropology", vol. 115, no. 3, pp. 213-222 (2001)]

A second stage study helps understand where some of the grave goods originated. For example, gold, silver, jewelry, ornaments, tools, etc., all items of "workmanship", have their provenance (origin) determined, and then the time frame boundaries set. The provenance of some 'grave goods' may only be guesses, since some of the most "interesting, spectacular, and unique items" have been buried there. An example from early 3rd millennium BC, is a flat disk, with a hole in the middle for a spindle, and possibly intended to be spun like a "top". (Found with a group of disks, in one "hunting" room, a multiple room mastaba.) Made of steatite, with scenes carved, its provenance can only be guessed. It was found in the mastaba of an Egyptian official named Hemaka. Since grave robbery was so common in Egypt, it may have come from a "previous" grave owner.

References

ee also

*Burial
*Grave field
*Necropolis


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • grave goods — noun plural : objects (as weapons, ornaments, tools) that are found buried with the dead in prehistoric graves * * * grave goods plural noun (archaeology) Artefacts (eg pottery, jewellery, weapons) put into a grave along with the corpse • • •… …   Useful english dictionary

  • grave goods — /ˈgreɪv gʊdz/ (say grayv goodz) plural noun Archaeology objects, such as personal possessions, votive offerings, etc., found in some prehistoric and ancient graves and tombs, surmised to have been buried with the person for ritual purposes or for …   Australian English dictionary

  • burial with grave-goods —    In pagan burials and cremations, the dead body was often (though not invariably) accompanied by jewellery, weapons, food, and drink, and sometimes a horse or dog, presumably its possessions in life. Christianity abolished the custom for… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Grave of the Fireflies — Infobox Film name = Grave of the Fireflies 火垂るの墓 imdb rating = 8.1/10 (9,956 votes) imdb id = 0095327 writer = Novel: Akiyuki Nosaka Screenplay: Isao Takahata starring = Tsutomu Tatumi Ayano Shiraishi Yoshiko Shinohara Akemi Yamaguchi director =… …   Wikipedia

  • Grave — For other uses, see Grave (disambiguation). Grave with burial vault awaiting coffin A grave is a location where a dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas… …   Wikipedia

  • Grave (burial) — A grave is a place where a dead body (usually a human, although sometimes an animal) is buried. The grave is usually in a graveyard or cemetery.Graves may contain objects that provide clues for archaeologists about the life and culture of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Vix Grave — This article is about the Celtic settlement and burial site in France. For other uses, see Vix. The Vix Krater, an imported Greek wine mixing vessel found in the famous grave of the Lady of Vix The area around the village of Vix in northern… …   Wikipedia

  • Row-Grave Cemeteries —    A traditional Germanic burial practice, the row grave cemeteries (Reihengräber) are important archeological finds because of the wealth of material found in them. There are numerous sites in the Rhine River area and northern France from the… …   Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe

  • Snape boat grave — The Snape boat grave is a 6th century boat grave found at Snape Common, near Aldeburgh in Suffolk, East Anglia. This was the first boat grave of its kind discovered in England (since the ship found at Ashby Dell near Lowestoft, Suffolk in 1834 in …   Wikipedia

  • carriage of goods — ▪ law Introduction       in law, the transportation of goods by land, sea, or air. The relevant law governs the rights, responsibilities, liabilities, and immunities of the carrier and of the persons employing the services of the carrier.… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.