Coin Assemblages in Ancient Burials: Statement of the Problem

In: Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
Andrey E. Tereshchenko State Russian Museum St.-Petersburg Russia

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The present work is dedicated to the analysis of possible meanings of monetary offerings in ancient burial practice. It is clear from archaeological data that the placement of money in a grave was not an essential component of the funeral ceremony; therefore, the comparative variety of versions of this ritual is not surprising: the number and value of coins in burials varies rather widely. The author examines several possible situations of monetary offering (one, two, three, or four and more coins) and suggests, with the support of both literary and archaeological data, various interpretations (“Charon’s obol,” “return ticket,” unfixed transportation fee, gifts “just in case,” and an indicator of social status, respectively). The article focuses attention on the most recent find from the Taman Peninsula – a small deposit from the necropolis of Volna I settlement.

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