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Some remarks on the orientation of the dead: examples from two east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries/Moningaid markusi matuseorientatsiooni kohta: naited kahelt Ida-Leedu kaabaskalmistult.


Burial sites, e.g. flat and barrow cemeteries, tombs, cairns, etc., are not merely disposal areas for dead bodies but also function as an integral part of the cultural and sacral landscapes. The location of a cemetery in a landscape is unlikely ipso facto to be accidental, nor is the arrangement of the dead in any specific area within the cemetery. By being placed into a milieu intended for its eternal rest, the human body enters a system encompassing both physical and metaphysical elements: human remains, landscape, burial constructions, views of the afterlife, beliefs and rituals, symbolic meanings, memory, etc. (see e.g. Huntington & Metcalf 1979; Bloch & Parry 1982; Parkin 1992; Silverman & Small 2002; Bendann 2003 [1930]; Parker Pearson 2003; Tilley 2004, 194 ff.; Williams 2006;0 Fahlander & Oestigaard 2008).

Body orientation is one of the most universal of the many means for establishing a symbolic communication among the dead as well as between them and the environment. Like spatial distribution, it is commonly crucial for a cemetery's internal organization (referring, of course, to those burials that may be oriented, i.e. mainly inhumations). As the interred human body encompasses both location and direction, the body is a way to symbolically stress the deceased's link to the dead around it, to the landscape, and to the whole of the material and immaterial world. Many factors can influence burial orientation: the movement of celestial bodies, especially sunrise and sunset (e.g. Rose 1922, 132 ff.; Gruber 1971, 67 ff.; Wells & Green 1973; Hawkes 1976; 1982, 48; Raths 1978; Fichter & Volk 1980; Clausen et al. 2008, 222 ff.; Hoskin 2009; Szucs-Csillik et al. 2010, 326 ff. and a multitude of other studies; cf. Kendall 1982; Boddington 1990, 191 ff.), the presence of other objects such as other similar burial structures (e.g. Clausen et al. 2008, 219 ff.), ancient monuments (e.g. Evison 1987, 152 ff.; Williams 1998, 97 f.; Longley 2002, 314 f.), settlements, the real landscape or a mythological one (e.g. Parkin 1992, 20 ff.; Carr 1995, 130), religion, beliefs, memory (e.g. Rose 1922; Nicholson 1994; Carr 1995, 157 ff.; Bendann 2003 [1930], 211 ff.; Raven 2005), social status (e.g. Binford 1971, 21 f.), ethnicity, gender, age, etc., all of which can, of course, be interrelated, e.g. a cemetery spatially organized on the basis of an entire system of landmarks (e.g. Evison 1987, 152 ff.). Indeed, very few, if any, studies dealing with ancient cemeteries have found burial orientation to be random (see also Raths 1978, 2 f. for a general review).

Not only can studying grave orientation reveal certain aspects of burial customs, it can probably also contribute considerably to a better understanding of the social structures in past communities and the ideological forces which mediated between those structures and the burial. From this perspective, orientation models, which seem to have functioned at the local level (within a burial ground and its environs), are likely to be more significant than global models (e.g. those based on celestial bodies or fixed cardinal and ordinal directions). The potential of studies in this field, however, has still not been exhausted or even assessed, at least in the east Baltic region. This is why new hypotheses concerning the implications of burial orientation should be noted and carefully tested as a possible promising research programme.

Baltic pre-Christian (Iron Age) cemeteries do not seem to have a single universal rule governing body orientation, with different dimensions of the social and spiritual life appearing to have been stressed through it. Most tribes had their own predominant burial directions. In some areas, orientation reflected the gender roles, males and females being buried in opposite directions (e.g. Michelbertas 1986, 228; Tautavicius 1996, 285; Radins 1999, 25; Vaskeviciute 2004, 33), while in others, a firm link can be seen between orientation and the movement of celestial bodies (Jovaisa 2002). Of course, the pattern of orientation in individual cemeteries must have been an aggregate of different factors with many particularities arising from both landscape features and specific perceptions of the afterlife.

This paper aims to present a remarkable feature of body orientation presumably observed in two east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries, i.e. orientation towards one focal point near the cemetery, and to discuss it in an ideological and cultural context. The available data (both the small number of cemeteries and the data for the graves in each), however, are insufficient for fixed conclusions. Therefore the scope of the present inquiry is to propose a hypothesis rather than to prove it. The best anticipated result is a response from scientists who have observed similar phenomena in working with other prehistoric societies elsewhere.

The orientation pattern in east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries and a review of the available data

Inhumation was a common manner of burial in the so-called east Lithuanian barrow culture for a relatively short span of time from its formation in the 3rd-4th centuries until approximately the turn of the 6th century. The roughly northward spread of cremation practices lasted over a century (Michelbertas 1986, 72; Tautavicius 1996, 46, 52; Kurila 2009, 12). Inhumations are therefore not very numerous in this region. Up until now, archaeologists, working with various degrees of thoroughness, have discovered uncremated human remains in over 40 barrow cemeteries (around 180 graves), although in most cases, only several burials have been found in each cemetery, which is hindering the precise determination of the burial orientation pattern at specific sites.

Literature based mainly on earlier excavations argued that in east Lithuania, the heads of males lay predominantly to the west (west orientation), those of females to the east (east orientation) (Tautavicius 1996, 48), or even considered such gender-based orientation a rule (Vaskeviciute 2007, 283). However, the latest excavations and a comprehensive survey of all the available data reveal that gender was not the key factor in determining burial direction (males generally showing fewer variations in respect to orientation) (Kurila 2009, 72, 92, 101, 270, 295, 318, figs 28, 77, 119) and that west and northwest orientations were the most common (Fig. 1). The orientations should probably be linked to the equinox and summer solstice sunset azimuths (a southwest orientation corresponding to a winter solstice azimuth being very rare), considering Lithuania's latitude (1), the possible peculiarities of each specific landscape (2), and the fact that a human body cannot always be precisely oriented to within a single degree (3). The ordinal directions between west and northwest may reflect the sunset on a specific date with no strict adherence to the outermost points of the sun's journey on the horizon.


Exceptions, however, do actually occur, prompting a search for other possible reasons. In some barrow cemeteries, the orientation can indeed be interpreted as gender related, e.g. in Riklikai (Tautavicius 1970, 55). Certain communities could also have had other burial orientation customs: a fixed northern direction, a sunrise azimuth, possibly some sort of system that oriented some burials towards others or towards objects that existed inside the cemetery or in its vicinity. None of these or other potential explanations have so far been discussed by east Lithuanian barrow researchers. On the whole, this topic is only occasionally approached by Lithuanian archaeologists, a comprehensive study by E. Jovaisa (2002) being one exception.

One of the foremost obstacles in research in this field, besides the lack of material, is the insufficient documentation level of some of the earlier excavations. For example, in 1894, F. V. Pokrovskij excavated eight inhumations in Antasare Laukiai Sariai barrow cemetery and described their orientation but failed to include a plan of the cemetery in the publication (Pokrovskij 1897, 164 ff.). Thus the data about the spatial organization of the burial area was lost. An analogous documentation imperfection occurs in V. A. Kashirskij's account of the 1907 excavation in Pavajuonis Cegelne barrow cemetery (Kurila 2011, 126 ff.). A total of 30 inhumations were found in Mezionys Paulinavas barrow cemetery, which was excavated in 1894 by F. V. Pokrovskij and in 1934 by W. Antoniewicz, but, due to similarly poor descriptions (Pokrovskij 1897, 169 ff.; Kaczynski 1963), no regularities, or their absence, can be determined. An overall trait of earlier publications and accounts is a tendency to indicate burial orientation in fixed directions (i.e. using 8 or 16 compass points) rather than in degrees. In addition, the poor preservation of uncremated human remains prevents the exact determination of the body's orientation in many cases.

Burial orientation in Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemeteries

Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemeteries (both in Svencionys District) are fairly close, the former being about 14.5 kilometres as the crow flies to the south-west of the latter (Fig. 2), and are near the eastern edge of the range of the east Lithuanian barrow culture.

Baliuliai barrow cemetery is about 100 metres to the north-east of the right bank of the River Mera and about 750 metres to the north-west of Baliuliai hillfort. Before it was excavated, the cemetery consisted of 16 barrows, including a huge one, 20 metres in diameter. It is highly likely that some barrows were destroyed by the Vilnius-Svencionys road, which transversed the cemetery's northern periphery. A newly-built segment of this road currently transverses the larger part of the cemetery's grounds. The nearest barrows are two that have been recently discovered about 300 metres to the south-east and been given the name Baliuliai II and one presumed barrow about 600 metres to the north-west (Balakauskas & Kurila 2012, 127, 130, fig. 7) (Fig. 3).


The 1999 and 2000 excavations yielded impressive results. The 5 inhumations and 11 cremations discovered in 12 excavated barrows date back to the very late 4th-5th centuries. Some of the uncharacteristic features of the burial structures as well as the elaborate grave good assemblages allow this cemetery to be considered one of the most idiosyncratic in the whole region (Kurila & Kliaugaite 2007; Kliaugaite & Kurila 2012).

Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemetery is one of three adjacent barrow groups (together with Persaukstis Kasciukai I and III) currently protected as separate objects. They form a series of barrows over 400 metres long about 450 metres to the south of the River Saria and about 0.65-1.4 kilometres to the east of Lake Sariai. The same Vilnius-Svencionys road transverses this group of cemeteries, separating Persaukstis Kasciukai I from the other two, and may have also destroyed some barrows here (Fig. 4). The nearest barrow cemeteries are Kasciukai cemetery and the lone Kasciukai barrow (about 350 metres to the south-southeast) and Persaukstis I and II (about 850 metres to the north-northwest) cemeteries. Persaukstis Kasciukai II cemetery, which is primarily referred to in this study, consisted of 8 barrows prior to its excavation.


Two excavations were conducted at Persaukstis Kasciukai. In 1894, nine barrows were excavated somewhere (their exact location being now unknown) in the three aforementioned barrow groups. Several of the barrows were found to be empty, while others contained symbolic or actual horse burials (Pokrovskij 1897, 158 ff.). All of them can be only approximately dated to the Late Iron Age (9th-11/12th centuries). Over a century later, in 2002-2004, eight more barrows were excavated, three in group I and five in group II. The former contained no burials, the latter three inhumations and four cremations. The inhumations and one cremation date to the mid-5th-early 6th centuries, the rest of the cremations being somewhat later. Barrows without burials are typical for the Late Iron Age (Kurila & Kliaugaite 2008).


Although the orientation of the inhumations in both cemeteries is not surprising in the context of east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries (ranging from west-northwest to north-northwest in Baliuliai and from west to north-west in Persaukstis Kasciukai II), the relationship between the orientation and the location of the burials is noteworthy. In Baliuliai, a regularity is apparent in that the further west a burial is, the more northern its direction, and vice versa, those nearer the eastern part of the cemetery have a more westerly orientation. This 'rule' applies to all five barrows with inhumations (Fig. 5). The virtual lines of the orientation azimuths of the burials in barrows 4, 8 (11), and 12 (15) intersect at roughly a point about 50-70 metres to the north-west of the cemetery. The orientation of the inhumations in barrows 1 and 7 (10) is more westerly. The absence of complete precision, however, should not be surprising, considering the cemetery's size (over 100 metres in length), the very poor condition of the bones, and the aforementioned fact that in a real landscape, the orientation of a body is not necessarily as precise as it might be drawn on a plan. In barrow 1, a coffin (?) seemed to be oriented towards the west-northwest but the burial pit itself was dug along a north-west-south-east axis, with its north-west end pointing directly towards the intersection point of the orientation azimuths of the burials in barrows 4, 8 (11), and 12 (15) (Kurila & Kliaugaite 2007, 141 ff., fig. 3) (see the dotted line in Fig. 5). Thus the only burial actually oriented somewhat differently than the others was the one in barrow 7 (10). It was located on the cemetery's very eastern edge, about 150-170 metres from the presumed intersection point of the burial azimuths, which probably explains its greater deviation from the general trend.


Many of the cremations found in Baliuliai barrows were also made in oblong pits under the base (but some were also on the base or in the mound above the base). Their orientation (i.e. the west, north-west, or north ends of the pits) can be defined, but it shows no regularities, even though it ranges from west to nearly north.

Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemetery displays even more regularity in respect to grave orientation. All three of the inhumations in barrows 4, 6, and 7 were oriented towards roughly one point about 50 metres to the west of the barrows as was the (south-west end of the) pit from the only coeval cremation in barrow 9 (Fig. 6). It is noteworthy that this cremation pit was similar to the inhumation pits both in form and dimensions (Kurila & Kliaugaite 2008, 18, 34 f., fig. 36). Such cremation pit construction is rare in east Lithuanian barrows and is characteristic of only a very brief period during the change in burial practices. The only trait which distinguishes this burial pit from most of inhumations is its north-east-south-west orientation. In this case, however, this atypical direction prompts one to envisage a firm link between the location of the burials and their orientation. The intersection point of the directions is currently seen to be located somewhere between Persaukstis Kasciukai I and II cemeteries, but, since the former is roughly half of millennium later than the latter, at the time of the burials it was on the cemetery's west or south-west periphery.



By proposing a hypothesis that the regularities presented above are not a result of entirely different causes or simple coincidence, three main questions arise: can such a burial orientation pattern be found in other cemeteries (4); what lies at the intersection points; and what perceptions of death and the afterlife, or social objectives, lie behind this mortuary treatment? Only the first two can be answered more or less properly, the third remaining more in the realm of speculation.

An examination of other east Lithuanian barrow (and some flat?) cemeteries with inhumations failed to detect anything similar: Eitulionys (Bliujus 1983), Maisiejunai (Butenas 1998), Zvirbliai (Iwanowska 2006), Diktarai (Urbanaviciene 1995), Migonys (Volkaite-Kulikauskiene 1958, 58 ff.), Semeniskes (Baltramiejunaite & Vengalis 2010, 100 ff.), Kriokslys (Zabiela 1998, 48 ff.), etc. Nor is significant evidence of such a burial orientation available for other Baltic cemeteries, except probably several small burial grounds, e.g. the Semigallian cemetery in Stungiai (Vaskeviciute 2000, 226 f., figs 2-3) (5).

Nonetheless, if Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II are indeed the only cemeteries showing such regularities, one must note their spatial and chronological proximity. Although the absolute chronology of the cemeteries is defined as widely as late 4th--early 6th century, the actual time span of their use is obviously a great deal shorter, relatively covering the junction the Early and Late Migration Periods (periods D2 and D3) or the mid-5th century. The chronological gap between them is very unlikely to be more than several decades. This is confirmed by cremations arranged as inhumations which is typical for only a very short period, and by some rather rare artefacts, such as Vilkonys-type crossbow brooches, spearheads with long sockets and short blades, and shield bosses. In addition, the dates of these two cemeteries fall into the most distinctive period of the east Lithuanian barrow culture (generally, the 5th century), which is marked not only by a shift from inhumation to cremation, but also by signs of contacts with Central and Southern Europe (witnessed by specific artefacts, e.g. bone combs, specific types of crossbow brooches, buckles, beads, etc.), a sudden increase in the number of tokens of wealth and warfare in the graves, and fairly manifest changes in social organization (see Werner 1977; Vaitkevicius 2005, 75 ff.; Bliujiene 2006, 125 ff.; Kurila & Kliaugaite 2007, 134 ff.; Bliujiene & Steponaitis 2009; Kurila 2009, 136 ff., 144 ff.; 2011, 146 f.; Bliujiene & Curta 2011; Kliaugaite & Kurila 2012, 100 f.). From a territorial point of view, both burial grounds lie in a range, some 50-60 kilometres long, of cemeteries (e.g., Sudota I and IV, Liuline III, Paduobe Saltaliune III, Pavajuonis Rekuciai, Pavajuonis Cegelne, Taurapilis) distinguished by an abundance of luxurious grave goods of non-local provenance and some atypical traits in the burial structures (for the latter, see Kurila & Kliaugaite 2008, 13; Bliujiene & Curta 2011, 36; Kurila 2011, 145) (Fig. 7). In other words, if there is a period and area in the whole of the east Lithuanian barrow culture where any peculiarity in burial customs would raise the least doubt, Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II cemeteries would be right in the middle of it. The cultural and historical background allows one to expect idiosyncratic funerary behaviour at these sites. (6)


The probable frequency, hence also credibility, of such a spatial organization should not be assessed within the corpus of the whole east Lithuanian barrow culture, but rather within the aforementioned area. However, none of the cemeteries within it have been excavated and sufficiently documented for such presumptions, except those discussed in this paper and probably Taurapilis. In this cemetery, the line of barrows was oriented west-east while most of the burials (3-5 out of 7; due to the severe destruction of the barrows, the orientation of several burials remains unidentified) seem to have had a west orientation (Tautavicius 1981). This, however, might be a result of an orientation either towards geographical west or some fixed point.

The focal points of the grave orientations can be easily detected in the landscape but are now covered by the Vilnius-Svencionys road in both cemeteries and so have been completely altered. In the case of Persaukstis Kasciukai II, the spot seems to lie exactly under the road or its ditch. No data about the initial relief is available, and no specific landscape elements (hill, ravine, scarp, stream, etc.) or any signs of them are noticeable.

Fortunately Baliuliai barrow cemetery fared better. The intriguing focal point to the north-west of the cemetery remained undamaged until the present road segment was built in 2008. Up until then a small round hill, 25-30 metres in diameter, 1-1.2 metres in height, and somewhat similar to a huge flat barrow, existed at the site (Fig. 8). The depression at its centre looked something like the pits typically dug by grave robbers. In 2007, a small-scale archaeological excavation was conducted on the hill (Kurila 2007) and in 2008, in the course of building the road, an archaeological survey (Kurila 2008, 6, 16, figs 31, 32). Neither yielded any results, i.e. no evidence of the hill actually having been a barrow or any traces of a cultural layer or other human activity. Only the west and north-west part of the hill still survives. The fruitless investigation results do not allow any direct link between burial orientation and this hill to be confirmed. On the other hand, the very existence of this clearly dominating hill right at the focal point of the burial directions supports the probability of the hypothesis proposed in this paper.

In summary, the atypical orientation of the dead presumably observed in Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemeteries has not been confirmed by either nearby analogies or empirical excavation data. The absence of any traces of human activity on the hill near Baliuliai barrow cemetery does not allow any speculations about the existence of some kind of temple or ritual site, at least one that would leave vestiges on the ground. This, nonetheless, does not deny its possible significance as a place for performing rituals. One might propose a number of possible explanations for such burial orientation regularities (see Raths 1978, 2 f.). Still, cemeteries, including the two analysed here, could also contain sacral zones functioning on an immaterial level. Bonds between the living and the dead (and also between those of the latter being buried currently and those who departed for the afterlife long time ago) are built through memory, which is at the same time both permanent and constantly changing. Material landscape elements, be they natural or artificial, could be used within sacral zones as a means to embody a symbolic or social communication between the living and the dead, or among those interred in a specific area. In the case of Baliuliai, the pseudo-barrow could be perceived as a tomb of a mythic ancestor, a connection to whom was expressed through burial orientation. The grave orientation around the Early Iron Age barrows in 3rd-10th centuries Lejasbiteni inhumation cemetery Aizkraukle (Latvia) (Atgazis 2001, 268 f.) can be given as an analogy. An orientation towards ancient monuments can also be seen in some Anglo-Saxon cemeteries (see Evison 1987, 152 ff.; Williams 1998, 97 f.) (7).


A society which buries its dead in barrows is unlikely to blindly mistake a natural hill for a barrow. Memory, however, includes not only what people have actually experienced but also what they wish to demonstrate or even believe themselves to have experienced. A great deal of evidence exists that an oral tradition surrounding archaeological objects can emerge in a very brief period. (8) The creation of a memory can occur even faster and be even less dependent on actual experience when the memory is strongly connected with the social life. An aspiration to create an ancestral tradition and to establish and emphasize actual or supposed links to buried ancestors may reflect the society's claims to the territory it occupies (Saxe 1970, 119 ff.; Earle 2000, 52). This would be credible for Baliuliai barrow cemetery, which appeared in an area with no previous burials, perhaps in a territory previously occupied by the community that left Baliuliai hillfort and the settlement at its foot (for the settlement's dating, see Balakauskas & Kurila 2012), in a very dynamic period marked by rivalry for territories, status, and domination (see Kurila 2009, 146). Unfortunately, the area to the west of Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemetery is too heavily destroyed to verify a similar presumption for it.

This is certainly not the only possible explanation for the burial orientation regularities in Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II. The spatial organization of the cemeteries could have also been governed by other factors, e.g., by astronomy alone. It could have depended on the sunset azimuths in different seasons. For example, in Baliuliai, the funerals could have been performed by chance from the late spring to early autumn. Another explanation is also a possibility. In Baliuliai, the focal point of the burial directions lies almost exactly due north-west, or the direction of the summer solstice azimuth, from the largest, still unexcavated barrow, probably that of a high-ranking individual. Perhaps only a north-west orientation was sought here (while a west, or equinox sunset, orientation was sought in Persaukstis Kaciukai II). A single fixed point was then chosen as a landmark to designate this approximate direction for the entire cemetery, thereby eliminating the need to find the actual sunset azimuth which can be obscured on a cloudy day. In addition, while the summer solstice sunset azimuth for any specific location, i.e. a new barrow, cannot be precisely identified without being at that location on that evening, deaths occur year round. The astronomical and social purports of grave orientation should by no means be regarded as conflicting; they could have been reciprocal and overlapping, jointly framing a specific ideological system.


A precise survey of the burial orientation in Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II barrow cemeteries (east Lithuania) reveals interesting regularities. In both cemeteries, west and north-west burial orientations dominate, which is typical for east Lithuanian barrows. However, all five inhumations in Baliuliai and all three inhumations and one coeval cremation (pit end) in Persaukstis Kasciukai II seem to have been directed towards a nearby fixed point. In Baliuliai, a small hill similar to a huge barrow lay at the intersection point of the burial orientation azimuths, while in Persaukstis Kasciukai II this spot has been covered by a road and completely destroyed.

Such a spatial structure cannot be found in other east Lithuanian barrow cemeteries and, most likely, in the whole of the Baltic region, which forces one to approach the discussed regularities with a certain degree of criticism. However, considering the chronology and location of the cemeteries, atypical burial customs may not be surprising. Both date to the junction of the Early and Late Migration Periods, the east Lithuanian barrow culture's most dynamic stage, which is marked by intense foreign influences, and both lie in the range of barrow cemeteries displaying the most distinct signs of those influences. This encourages the assumption that the origin of the burial features observed in Baliuliai and Persaukstis Kasciukai II may be regions far from east Lithuania. Moreover, examples of somewhat similar burial orientation systems do actually exist.

The interpretation of the burial orientation regularities presented in this paper is only one of many possibilities. It can be argued that in the case of Baliuliai, the hill could have been perceived as an ancient barrow, probably the tomb of a mythical ancestor. The orientation of the dead towards the hill could have been employed as a means to link the dead and the living with their ancestors and probably also to legitimize the society's claims to the territory it occupied. Such a model is fairly credible in the period under discussion. Of course, other possible explanations for the burial orientations can also be suggested, the most credible being astronomical in nature, which does not conflict with the aforementioned social background. The possibility of a simple coincidence can also by no means be rejected. More extensive excavations of nearby coeval barrow cemeteries are required to test the hypothesis proposed here, which so far remains just a hypothesis.

doi: 10.3176/arch.2013.1.03


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(1) The sunset azimuth depends not only on the geographical location of a particular landscape but also on the period under discussion. However, the value of the obliquity of the ecliptic is too small to have any impact on an analysis of body orientation (see Wittmann 1979).

(2) E.g. in Baliuliai barrow cemetery the sunset azimuth is some 10-12 degrees less than at sea level at the same latitude.

(3) This latter reason, together with the rather poor condition of most of the skeletons in the burials under discussion, is why the paper avoids using compass degrees in the descriptions. In the plans, however, attempts have been made to give as precise an orientation as possible considering the available sources. The magnetic declination (6[degrees] positive or easterly) was also taken into consideration.

(4) A system of orienting the dead towards a fixed point might likewise function at a much higher level than within a single cemetery, as seen, for example, in the Muslim custom of laying the deceased facing Qibla (Mecca).

(5) In stating this, the author does not mean, of course, that he has made an exhaustive inquiry into the data from all of the excavated Baltic cemeteries. Christian cemeteries where the burials might prove to have been oriented towards a church or chapel (see e.g. Svetikas 2003, 150), were also excluded from the search for analogies.

(6) The origin of such a burial organization within a cemetery remains obscure. The derivation of atypical burial practices in east Lithuanian barrows is expected to lead to Central and Southern Europe, namely the Middle Danube region, considering the aforementioned historical background. No evidence of such a burial orientation pattern, however, is seen in this region's cemeteries (Prof. Florin Curta, personal communication).

(7) This remark is not intended to argue that any direct links existed between east Lithuania and the Anglo-Saxons. The orientation of graves happens to be a well-studied topic in British archaeology, which led to the emergence of a considerable number of inferences concerning the spatial organization of the cemeteries in the British Isles.

(8) For example, a very common association of barrows or hill forts to the campaign of the Grande Armee (1812) is registered as early as the late 19th century.

Laurynas Kurila, Department of Archaeology, Lithuanian Institute of History, 5 Kraziij St., LT-01108 Vilnius, Lithuania;
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Author:Kurila, Laurynas
Publication:Estonian Journal of Archaeology
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Geographic Code:4EXLT
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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