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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a brief overview of practices involving human remains during the period c. 4000–2200 BC in northern Europe, with an emphasis on Denmark and southern Sweden. Finds of human bones come from a number of different contexts, such as monumental and earthen graves, mortuary houses, bog finds, causewayed camps, and settlements. Some of these remains may be the product of specific stages in extended mortuary processes, while others probably result from different kinds of practices. The interpretation of megalithic tombs as ossuaries is reviewed critically, and an alternative interpretation, primary burial with subsequent handling of selected bones, is preferred. Recent evidence from eastern Sweden, indicating more complex mortuary practices than usually envisaged for the middle Neolithic in this area, is discussed briefly. This includes the practice of cremation, indications of secondary burial, and the discovery of probable mortuary houses.

Keywords: Denmark, Sweden, Neolithic, mortuary practices, megalithic tombs, cremations, mortuary houses

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