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PhD ceremony Ms. S.L. Willemsen: Into the light. A study of the changing burial customs at Crustumerium in the 7th and 6th centuries BC

When:Th 17-04-2014 at 14:30
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Ms. S.L. Willemsen

Dissertation: Into the light. A study of the changing burial customs at Crustumerium in the 7th and 6th centuries BC

Promotor(s): prof. P.A.J. Attema

Faculty: Arts

The late 7th and 6th century BC in Central Italy have long been regarded as obscure, because only a small number of graves could be ascribed to this period and because these tombs generally contained very few or no grave gifts. However, recent excavations at the burial grounds surrounding the Latial settlement Crustumerium (near Rome) have yielded a fairly large number of tombs dating to this period, shedding new light on this poorly understood period. The study of the Crustumerian funerary archive has revealed a number of remarkable changes in the funerary rituals after the end of the 7th century BC. Apart from a dwindling number of grave gifts granted to deceased individuals, the period witnessed the introduction of more monumental tombs for the deposition of more than one burial. In addition, it seems that people abided less strongly by former strict rules for the treatment of the bodies and the spacing, orientation and closing of the tombs.

Many of the changes in the burial customs seem to be prompted by a shifting locus of investment of the elite; from the sepulchral areas to the now urbanized settlements. The developments can also be viewed as the result of an altered ideological concept of death and afterlife. Overall, the funerary archive of Crustumerium has proven to be of great importance to bring a previously obscure period “into the light”.

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