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Radiocarbon Chronology of the Schurovo Burial Mound Cremation Complex (Viking Times, Middle Oka River, Russia)

A S Syrovatko, N E Zaretskaya, A A Troshina, A V Panin

Abstract


Excavation of the Schurovo archaeological site, located on a ~12-m river terrace, has revealed 3 occupation periods: 1) as a dwelling site of the Migration period (4th–5th centuries AD); 2) as local burial mounds (termed “houses of the dead” in Russian); 3) and as a ground burial period, which left a cremation layer directly on the ground and is now covered by the Little Ice Age overbank alluvium. The latter 2 periods contain few artifacts, which makes radiocarbon dating more appropriate for establishing their chronology. The burial mounds were dated to the mid-6th to mid-7th centuries AD. The accumulation of colluvium in mound ditches points to a rather long (at least a century) pause between the construction of burial mounds and the appearance of ground burials. Dates from the cremation layer (ground burials) span a wide range from the 8th to 13th centuries AD. As the younger dates do not correspond to regional historical and archaeological contexts, we believe them to be “rejuvenated” due to their long exposure before burial to the young alluvium. The ground burials are dated to the mid-8th to mid-10th centuries AD, the so-called “dark ages” in the Moscow region characterized by very few archaeological data. An isolated ancient branch of the Oka River near the archaeological site was radiocarbon dated and found to be active until the mid-10th to later-12th centuries AD, meaning that it was likely used as a local harbor on the transit river route throughout the site’s occupation.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.v54i3–4.16130


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