SICLES IN EARLY MEDIEVAL GRAVES IN SLOVAKIA
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The paper discusses the results of the analyses of 85 sickles revealed in the early medieval graves of the inhumation burial places on the territory of present-day Slovakia. Sickles had been buried into graves from the 7th up to the 10th centuries and later on they appeared at the cemeteries again in the 16th-18th centuries. We meet with this phenomenon even in the 19th and 20th centuries, what is testified by a numerous ethnographic material. The reasons for putting these agricultural implements into graves in the period under study, absence of this phenomenon during the 11th-15th centuries and consequently the question of possible change of function of a buried sickle within the 10th century and then in the modern era have not been sufficiently clarified yet. Based on the recent studies, views on the function of a sickle in a grave can be divided into three groups. The first group interprets a sickle as a working implement or a symbol of farming. The sickle has to express a relation to soil, a certain connection with the agricultural production, or it serves on evidence of the local population activities and an attribute of the deceased's occupation. The second group of scholars consider a sickle in a grave to be a symbol of warfare or a weapon of the buried man. The other researchers view sickles in graves as a mean of certain magic-ritual practices, maybe the acts connected with the superstitions and the anti-revenant rituals. Increasing number of finds and using of the interdisciplinary results offer wider possibilities in clarifying the reasons for burying this agricultural implement into graves. Analyzing the burial features, characteristics of the sickles and studying of some features typical for the burial grounds where sickles in the graves occur can helped to solve the problem. Numbers of the graves with the buried sickles within a certain necropolis, situating of these graves at the burial ground, existing anomalies in the funeral rite of these graves at the given place were observed. Precise analysis of the grave features, e. g.: orientation of the graves with sickles in comparison with the others, position of a sickle in the grave, sex and age of the deceased individual in the grave with a sickle, presence and characterization of the another finds in such grave, were studied. Typology of the sickles from the graves and state, in which they were preserved, are complementing the entire analysis and thus helping the interpretation of the phenomenon.
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