(Artikelnr: 9789088905117)

Fragmenting the Chieftain. A practice-based study of Early Iron Age Hallstatt C elite burials in the Low Countries. 
Palma 15 A, Textbook. 

Sasja van der Vaart-Verschoof

Paperback 233 pp. Illustrated. 2017 Sidestone
      
There is a cluster of Early Iron Age (800–500 BC) elite burials in the Low Countries in which bronze vessels, weaponry, horse-gear and wagons were interred as grave goods. Mostly imports from Central Europe, these objects are found brought together in varying configurations in cremation burials generally known as chieftains’ graves or princely burials. In terms of grave goods they resemble the Fürstengräberof the Hallstatt Culture of Central Europe, with famous Dutch and Belgian examples being the Chieftain’s grave of Oss, the wagon-grave of Wijchen and the elite cemetery of Court-St-Etienne.

Fragmenting the Chieftain presents the results of an in-depth and practice-based archaeological analysis of the Dutch and Belgian elite graves and the burial practice through which they were created. It was established that the elite burials are embedded in the local burial practices – as reflected by the use of the cremation rite, the bending and breaking of grave goods, and the pars pro toto deposition of human remains and objects, all in accordance with the dominant local urnfield burial practice.

It appears that those individuals interred with wagons and related items warranted a more elaborate funerary rite, most likely because these ceremonial and cosmologically charged vehicles marked their owners out as exceptional individuals. Furthermore, in a few graves the configuration of the grave good set, the use of textiles to wrap grave goods and the dead and the reuse of burial mounds show the influence of individuals familiar with Hallstatt Culture burial customs.

The majority of the Dutch and Belgian burials were found several decades to several centuries ago and context information tends to be limited. They also tend to be published in Dutch or French or otherwise difficult to access publications. This research went back to the original reports and studied the objects found in these graves in detail. This generated new and evidence-based insights and interpretations into these exceptional burials and allowed for the reconstruction of the individual burial rituals. Fragmenting the Chieftain – Catalogue presents the first comprehensive overview of the Dutch and Belgian elite graves (in English) and the objects they contain.

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