Moscow University

Оn the issue of registration of human remains in mass graves of a sanitary nature at the stage of field work

Engovatova A.V., Tarasova A.A.

Federal State Institution of Science Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dm. Ul-yanova str., 19, Moscow, 117292, Russia

Engovatova Asya V., PhD; ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3109-2764;; Tarasova Anna A., PhD; OR-CID ID: 0000-0001-5469-2629;


Introduction. Choosing a strategy for registration of human remains in collective sanitary burials found on the territory of the Yaroslavl Kremlin, we noticed the absence of special terminology for marking the partially preserved skeletons, segments of the skeletons, and accumulations of bones which are often found in them. The use of designations accepted in Russian archeology, such as "individual" or "skeleton", for their marking, leads to a number of problems. Ultimately, this is the reason for significant losses in the infor-mation content of the anthropological source for bioarchaeological and historical reconstructions. Materials and methods. Based on the analysis of the descriptions of collective burials of the victims of the Mongol invasion in archaeological reports, taking into account the experience of foreign researchers of mass burials of the 20th century, an original method of fixing human remains of various completeness is proposed. Approbation of the methodology is described on the example of a study (2008, 2020) of a collective burial in 1238 in the archaeological object "construction No. 60" on the territory of the Yaroslavl Kremlin. Results. To resolve the issue of the method of registration of remains of different completeness, we turned to the archaeological practice of separating individual and mass material. As well as for individual archaeo-logical finds, it is proposed to introduce a field logbook of “individual anthropological finds”, in which they will be numbered and described with an indication of their completeness (“type” of deposition), localization and in situ position. The use of continuous numbering implies the general name of the numbered object, which, in our opinion, can be a name similar to that adopted for an individual material in archeology – “indi-vidual anthropological find”. Conclusion. The application of the proposed method will make it possible to more accurately describe the position and completeness of anthropological materials in mass graves of a sanitary nature or collective burials destroyed due to anthropogenic or other factors and containing redeposited remains. A careful de-scription and maximum "personification" with this approach will contribute to the realization of a paleoan-thropological material as a source for bioarchaeological and historical reconstructions. This corresponds to the modern contextual approach in archeology, aimed at a comprehensive study of the communities of the past based on a detailed analysis of all types of sources discovered during excavations.


mass graves; collective burials; graves of a sanitary nature; individual anthropological findings; remains; contextual approach; bioarchaeological reconstructions

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2021.4.100-115

Цит.: Engovatova A.V., Tarasova A.A. Оn the issue of registration of human remains in mass graves of a sanitary nature at the stage of field work // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2021; 4/2021; с. 100-115 (Published: December 22, 2021)

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