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Tumulus

From Academic Kids

Alternate meanings of barrow: see Barrow-in-Furness for the town of Barrow in Cumbria, England; also Barrow, Alaska in the U.S.; also River Barrow in Ireland and Steve Barrow for the reggae historian.
Alternate meanings of mound: see mound (creature) or Mounds for further meanings.

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Noge-Ōtsuka Kofun tumulus, Tokyo, early 5th century.

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn.

The method of inhumation may involve a cist, a mortuary enclosure, a mortuary house or a chamber tomb. Examples of barrows include Duggleby Howe and Maes Howe.

The of  from the  and the . Originally, the site had 2000 to 3000 tumuli, but due to quarrying and agriculture "only" 250 remain
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The Royal mounds of Gamla Uppsala from the 5th and the 6th centuries. Originally, the site had 2000 to 3000 tumuli, but due to quarrying and agriculture "only" 250 remain
Contents

Sites

Scandinavia

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King Björn's barrow in Håga (Old Norse name: Haug) near Uppsala. This location has a very strong connection with Björn at Haugi. First, the Nordic Bronze Age barrow gave its name to the location Håga ("the barrow"), which became part of the cognomen of the king, at Haugi ("at the barrow"), and interestingly, the mound was later named after the king.

Burial mounds were in use until the 11th century in Scandinavia. In their undamaged state they appear as small, man-made hillocks, though many examples have been damaged by ploughing or deliberately damaged so that little visible evidence remains.

By burning the deceased, he was moved to Valhalla by the consuming force of the fire. The fire could reach temperatures of 1500 °C. The remains were covered with cobblestones and then a layer of gravel and sand and finally a thin layer of turf.

Thus he (Odin) established by law that all dead men should be burned, and their belongings laid with them upon the pile, and the ashes be cast into the sea or buried in the earth. Thus, said he, every one will come to Valhalla with the riches he had with him upon the pile; and he would also enjoy whatever he himself had buried in the earth. For men of consequence a mound should be raised to their memory, and for all other warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone; which custom remained long after Odin's time. [...] It was their faith that the higher the smoke arose in the air, the higher he would be raised whose pile it was; and the richer he would be, the more property that was consumed with him. (Ynglinga saga)

As the old Scandinavians worshiped their ancestors, the mounds were also places of worship.

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Ohthere's mound in Vendel, Sweden from the early 6th century

Britain

In Britain, early references to tumuli were made by William Camden, John Aubrey, and William Stukeley. During the 19th century in England the excavation of tumuli was a popular pastime amongst the educated and wealthy middle classes who became known as "barrow-diggers". This leisure activity played a key role in laying the foundations for the scientific study of the past in England.

Israel

Near the western city limits of modern Jerusalem in Israel, 19 tumuli have been documented (Amiran, 1958). Though first noticed in the 1870s by early surveyors, the first one to be formally documented was Tumulus #2 in 1923 by William Foxwell Albright, and the most recent one (Tumulus #4) was excavated by Gabriel Barkay in 1983. Since 21 kings reigned in Jerusalem during the Israelite monarchy from David to Zedekiah (who was conquered and humiliated by the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar), it is not unreasonable to suspect that these mounds were the locations of ceremonies to mourn/honor them after they had already received proper burial in the royal tombs (probably located in the heart of the city where they could be continuously guarded). See 2 Chronicles 16:14, 21:19 (which states that King Jehoram was not given this honor), 32:33, the book of Jeremiah 34:5 (a conditional promise for Zedekiah that he did not earn), and Biblical archaeology. Gabriel Barkay popularized this theory after studying tumuli near Salamis in Cyprus. More than half of these ancient Israeli structures have now been threatened or obliterated by modern construction projects, including Tumulus #4, which was excavated hastily in a salvage operation. The most noteworthy finds from this dig were two LMLK seal impressions and two other handles with associated Concentric Circle incisions, all of which suggests this tumulus belonged to either King Hezekiah (Barkay, 2003, p. 68) or his son Manasseh (Grena, 2004, p. 326).
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Jerusalem Tumulus #2 (in 2004)

Japan

In Japan, powerful leaders built tumuli known as kofun. The Kofun period of Japanese history takes its name from these burial mounds. The largest is over 400 meters in length. In addition to other shapes, kofun include a keyhole shape.

U.S.A.

Mound building was a central feature of the public architecture of many Native American cultures from Chile to Minnesota. Thousands of mounds in the USA have been destroyed as a result of farming, pot-hunting, amateur and professional archaeology, road-building and construction. Surviving mounds are still found in river valleys, especially along the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio Rivers. Mounds were used for burial, to support residential and religious structures, to represent a shared cosmology, and to unite and demarcate community. Common forms include conical mounds, ridge-top mounds, platform mounds, and animal effigy mounds, but there are many variations. Mound building in the USA is believed to date back to at least 1200 BCE in the Southeast (see Poverty Point), and recent research shows that it may predate that as well. The Adena and Mississippian cultures are principally known for their mounds. The largest mound site north of Mexico is Cahokia, a vast World Heritage Site located just east of St. Louis, Missouri. The most visually impressive mound site (due to the area being free of trees) is in Moundville, Alabama.

Types of barrows

Archaeologists often classify tumuli according to their location, form, and date of construction. Some British types are listed below:


  • Bank barrow
  • Bell barrow
  • Bowl barrow
  • D-shaped barrow A round barrow with a purposefully flat edge at one side often defined by stone slabs
  • Fancy barrow A generic term for any Bronze Age barrows more elaborate than a simple hemispherical shape.
  • Long barrow
  • Oval barrow A type of Neolithic long barrow consisting of an elliptical, rather than rectangular or trapezoidal mound.
  • Platform barrow The least common of the recognised types of round barrow, consisting of a flat, wide circular mound, which may be surrounded by a ditch. They occur widely across southern England with a marked concentration in East and West Sussex.
  • Pond barrow a barrow consisting of a shallow circular depression, surrounded by a bank running around the rim of the depression. Bronze age
  • Ring barrow a bank which encircles a number of burials.
  • Round barrow a circular feature created by the Bronze Age peoples of Britain and also the later Romans, Vikings and Saxons. Divided into sub classes such as saucer and bell barrow. The Six Hills are a rare Roman example.
  • Saucer barrow circular Bronze Age barrow featuring a low, wide mound surrounded by a ditch which may be accompanied by an external bank.
  • Square barrow A burial site, usually of Iron Age date, consisting of a small, square, ditched enclosure surrounding a central burial, which may also have been covered by a mound

List of notable barrow diggers

References

  • Grinsell, L.V., 1936, The Ancient Burial-mounds of England. London: Methuen.

External links

de:Hügelgrab fr:Tumulus nl:Grafheuvel pl:Tumulus sv:Gravhög

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