Unusual burials unearthed at ancient cemetery in Georgia
Two headless skeletons and a burial of a skull are among the discoveries of Georgian-Polish team of archaeologists during excavations in the ancient cemetery Beshtasheni in the region of Lower Kartli, south-eastern Georgia.
|The largest tomb discovered during this season - bronze strip visible in the upper right corner. |
The "pedestal vessel" is located in the upper left corner [Credit: Dimitri Narimanisvhili]
"The number of discoveries and the richness of the tombs surprised even us archaeologists. Previous seasons were full of interesting finds, but not in such quantities", explained Jacek Hamburg from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, who led the work of the Polish team. The Georgian team is led by Dr. Dimitri Narimanishvili of the Georgian National Museum.
Hamburg drew particular attention to the double grave of a man (19-25 years) and a women (23-25 years). Both skeletons were laid on their right sides in a foetal position, next to each other.
|Tomb of the headless couple [Credit: Katarzyna Pawłowska]|
The burial chamber also contained an iron dagger, a bronze pin decorated with geometric motifs and several ceramic vessels.
In another tomb, archaeologists found only ... a woman's head. The age of the deceased was determined to be 17-25 years. Her skull rested on a flat plate, around which during the funeral the ancients placed several other ceramic vessels, carnelian beads and difficult to identify (due to the poor state of preservation) metal objects.
|Arrowhead in the ribs of the woman found in the double grave |
[Credit: Dimitri Narimanishvili]
The deceased was also equipped with a belt buckle. The belt itself has not been preserved, like most other objects made from organic materials.
"Most likely it was used with a chest belt for melee weapon or with a plain leather belt", said the archaeologist.
|Tomb of the headless couple after removal of grave goods |
[Credit: Katarzyna Pawłowska]
Researchers also drew the attention to a characteristic "pedestal vessel", characterized by a tall, slender form with opening significantly expanding upward. Vessels of this type are often partially decorated with red dye. Many units have holes in the central part of the bottom of the vessel, making it even harder for archaeologists to interpret them. "Pedestal vessels" are found only in this area of Georgia, but archaeologists rarely find them.
"We discovered similar vessels in other graves we studied. It is an unexpectedly large collection, which is unique in the region", said Hamburg. He added that the purpose of the vessels is not clear and requires further analysis. Archaeologists also plan to test the soil samples taken from inside the vessels.
|Burial of a skull [Credit: Dimitri Narimanishvili]|
"Military activity of the local community is not surprising. In those times the area of modern Georgia was invaded by both Urartians and Assyrians", added Hamburg.
It was the records of the invaders that provided information about the existence of a coalition of proto-Kartvelian tribes, which researchers often refer to as proto-Georgian. In the ancient records they are referred to as Diauehi or Daiaeni. These tribes were probably illiterate at that time.
|View of the excavations in Beshtasheni [Credit: Katarzyna Pawłowska]|
Author: Szymon Zdziebłowski | Source: PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland [September 23, 2016]