Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii   1 (52)  2021



Position of arms as an essential element of the orthodox funeral tradition in Siberia (case study of the Nikolskaya Church cemetery in the city of Novosibirsk)

Gorokhov S.V.  (Novosibirsk, Russian Federation)


             page 6271


The purpose of this article is to analyze the planigraphic distribution of graves characterized by different positions of arms of the buried people and to identify patterns in their localization. The source base of the research is represented by 384 graves of the Nikolskaya Church necropolis in the town of Krivoshchyokovo. The arms position has been determined for individuals from 152 graves. The classification criteria for arms positions of the deceased have been developed. The analysis of graves enabled us to make a full list of all possible positions of the right or left arm, including the following ones: the arm is stretched along the body (0), bent at the elbow at ~40, ~68, ~90, ~112, ~139 or ~166. In cases when one arm was put on the other one, the relative position of arms (above or below) was recorded. The combination of individual positions of arms and their positioning relatively to each other determines the overall type of arms position. The planigraphic analysis of arms positions of buried people by types has been undertaken. It has been identified that graves with several plain and complex types of arms positions are located quite closely to each other. The distribution of graves with certain types of arms positions in the studied part of the necropolis cannot be accidental. Therefore, the established facts of restricted loca-lization of types and complex types of arms positions of the buried people are determined by a cause or a group of causes associated with the historic circumstances of the period when the necropolis was formed. One could assume that the types of arms positions changed over time, following the transformation of beliefs and prescriptions of the church in relation to the existing burial tradition. The specific position of arms can be related to the confession of the deceased person and his/her family, as well as traditions of particular regions. In the former case, the position of arms can be characteristic of a specific confession, while in the latter case of the place of origin of the colonists. Over time, as a result of the long cohabitation and mixing of populations through marriages, the funeral rite should be reduced to a specific single type, however, never reaching an absolute unification due to migration flow of people following different burial traditions. The program of further research into the funeral traditions has been proposed.

Key words: Siberia, Novosibirsk, 18th19th centuries, necropolis, obsequies, position of arms.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.12.2020

Article is published: 26.02.2021


Gorokhov S.V.

History of the Siberian Ostrogs Novosibirsk Regional Public Organization, st. Boris Bogatkov, 253, b. 4, of. 333, Novosibirsk, 630089, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Gorokhov S.V.)