Into the fire: Investigating the introduction of cremation to Nordic Bronze Age Denmark: A comparative study between different regions applying strontium isotope analyses and archaeological methods

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Changes in funerary practices are key to the understanding of social transformations of past societies. Over the course of the Nordic Bronze Age, funerary practices changed from inhumation to cremation. The aim of this study is to shed light on this fundamental change through a cross-examination of archaeometric provenance data and archaeological discussions of the context and layouts of early cremation graves. To this end, we conducted 19 new provenance analyses of strontium isotopes from Early Nordic Bronze age contexts in Thisted County and Zealand and Late Bronze Age contexts from Thisted County and Vesthimmerland (Denmark). These data are subsequently compared with data from other extant relevant studies, including those from Late Bronze Age Fraugde on the Danish island of Fyn. Overall, the variations within our provenience data suggest that the integration and establishment of cremation may not have had a one-to-one relationship with in-migration to Nordic Bronze Age Denmark. Moreover, there seems to be no single blanket scenario which dictated the uptake of cremation as a practice within this part of Southern Scandinavia. By addressing habitus in relation to the deposition of cremations as juxtaposed with these provenance data¸ we hypothesize several potential pathways for the uptake of cremation as a new cultural practice within the Danish Nordic Bronze Age and suggest that this may have been a highly individual process, whose tempo may have been dictated by the specificities of the region(s) concerned.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0249476
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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