University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Intrasite spatial analysis of the cemeteries with dispersed cremations
Marge Konsa

Last modified: 2012-02-21


The cemeteries with dispersed cremations were the main burial type in Estonia during the Iron Age. The essential characteristic of them is their collective nature and intentional indistinguishability of the individual burials. It seems that the burned bones and artefacts are scattered over the grave field in irregular manner, although there could be some cremations in the pit also. The cremations are mostly without containers. The intrasite spatial and quantitative methods which are usually applied for cemeteries with separate individual burials are not suitable for the analysis of dispersed cremations because of the specific nature of the latter.

In the paper I will introduce the results of the intrasite spatial analysis of the Iron Age cremation cemetery of Madi, Estonia. Spatial data of artefacts, bones and charcoal were studied on two levels. First, the material from cemetery were analysed as point pattern data with the aim to find out the regularity in spatial distribution. After that, smaller clusters and concentration areas of finds and bones were taken into closer consideration. Different analysis methods were used: autocorrelation, density analysis, nearest neighbour analysis, mean centre analysis and minimum distance analysis.

 The digital spatial analysis combined with multivariate statistics allowed to take account many variables simultaneously and to study their relationships and distribution pattern in detail. As a result, the new understanding of the funerary rituals performed on the burial place and formation process of the dispersed cremation cemetery is presented.


GIS & spatial analysis; quantitative methods; intrasite analyses; burial archaeology