MAIASP. 2021. No. 13

S.V. Polin (Kyiv, Ukraine), M.N. Daragan (Kyiv, Ukraine)


DOI: 10.53737/2713-2021.2021.50.33.007

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Pages: 254342

One of the burial structure forms among the Scythians of the Northern Black Sea region in the second half of the 5th and the 4th century BCE were catacombs having two or even three entrance pits. The whole total of these is subdivided into technical and ritual ones. In the technical group, more pits have been added as soon as further deceased were introduced into a collective burial chamber a while after a chief burial is already made. Entrances leading into such catacombs are thus not coeval, while those directed into a ritual catacomb were arranged simultaneously to enter a burial chamber with a single person buried there.  The presence of a second entrance pit can only be explained by certain ritual requirements, according to which some specific elements of the burial ritual associated with the interment of a single deceased should be carried out at once but only using different entrances. A special variety of ritual catacombs are those having single entrance pit bifurcated into passageways (dromoi) leading into the burial chamber and separated from each other by a thin wall which sometimes does not even reach up the ceiling. Such a partition of the entrance seems to have had an exclusively ritual purpose and the same meaning as a catacomb with two entrances. In the barrows of the Scythian elite, including those of royalty, paired burials with male and female bone remains are reported to be found in collective dual-entrance burial chambers. The noble ones are accompanied there by servants and riding horses and sumptuous burial goods. The paper presents a selection of ritual catacombs with (a) two entrance pits, (b) two dromoi, and (c) prestigious paired burials. Chronological positions of the barrows, age and sex distribution among the buried as well as durable changes in dual-entrance catacombs are among issues discussed in the paper.

Key words: Scythians, Northern Black Sea region, burial constructions, funeral practices, chronology.

Received May 14, 2021

Accepted for publication May 30, 2021

About the authors:

Polin Sergei Vasilyevich (Kyiv, Ukraine). PhD (History), Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine


Daragan Marina Nikolaevna (Kyiv, Ukraine). PhD (History), Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine