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The Late Sarmatian and Early Alanic elite plot in the cemetery of Klin-Yar III, near Kislovodsk (Stavropol kraj, Russia). In: Pos’yashchena pamyati M.M. Trapsh. Problemy drevnej i srednevekovoj arkheologii Kavkaza: Materialy konferentsii. Sukh

Klin-Yar is a well-known, large cemetery of regional importance for the North Caucasus. Joint Anglo-Russian fieldwork 1994-96 by A. Belinskij (Stavropol) and the author uncovered 52 graves, with more than 100 individuals. This expedition also
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    In: Pos’yashchena pamyati M. M. Trapsh. Problemy drevnej i srednevekovoj arkheologii Kavkaza:Materialy konferentsii. Sukhum: ABIGI 2011. 202-206. The Late Sarmatian and Early Alanic elite plot in the cemeteryof Klin-Yar III,near Kislovodsk (Stavropol kraj, Russia) by Heinrich Härke (Reading) and Andrej Belinskij (Stavropol) The aim of this paper is to present one aspect of the results of our1994-96 expedition at Klin-Yar, namely the concentration of the richestSarmatian and Alanic graves in one area, and to point out some of theimplications of this aspect. A more complete presentation anddiscussion of this and other results will be found in the final publicationof our expedition (Belinskij and Härke, forthcoming). Fig. 1Map of the Klin-Yar site, with locations of the trenches of the 1994-96expedition The site of Klin-Yar  The well-known and important site of Klin-Yar is located in the chalk-1-  and sandstone hills of the North Caucasus, just west of Kislovodsk inthe region of Stavropol. A narrow, steep-sided sandstone rock (calledParavos) is at the centre of the site, and has produced settlementtraces of the Koban Culture and of early Alanic date (Fig. 1). FurtherKoban and Alanic settlement areas are located on the upper slopesaround the Paravos rock. Extensive burial grounds with Koban,Sarmatian and Alanic graves occupy the lower slopes. Excavationscarried out before 1993 uncovered some 350 graves, most of thembelonging to the Koban Culture, but also about 100 Sarmatian andAlanic graves. Joint Anglo-Russian fieldwork 1994-96 in cemeteries IIIand IV undertaken by GUP ‘Nasledie’ (Stavropol) and the University of Reading added another 52 graves, with more than 100 individuals(Härke and Belinsky 2000). The basic features of the Sarmatian and Alanic burial rite at Klin-Yarcomprise dressed inhumation with grave-goods in a catacomb. Mostbodies were laid out in extended position or slightly flexed. In theSarmatian phase, the chamber was accessed by a pit or a shortdromos which was in most cases aligned east-west; in some cases, thedeposition of a horse ‘skin’ (with skull and lower leg bones) wasobserved on or in the dromos. The entrance to the chamber from thedromos was always blocked with large stones. Most Sarmatianchambers contained only a single body, and most double burials wereconstructed by linking single-burial chambers with a short dromos.Early Alanic grave construction and ritual were similar to theSarmatian, but more elaborate. The standard burial rite continued tobe dressed inhumation, with an increased range and quantity of grave-goods. The catacombs were larger and deeper, and occasionally hadadditional features such as pits or niches; dromoi were longer andpredominantly orientated around north-south, with the entrance at thenorthern end blocked with large stones. In the majority of cases, Alaniccatacombs contained more than one body, and occasionally up tothree or four. Sacrificial depositions in or on the dromos became morefrequent and varied in the Alanic phase, frequently including a horse orpottery, less often weapons or parts of horse harness. The elite plot A concentration of big and well-equipped catacombs of the LateSarmatian and Early Alanic phases was found and excavated in themain trench of the 1994-96 expedition (Fig. 2). It was located incemetery III, about 300 metres south of the eastern tip of the Paravosrock. With two exceptions, it contains the richest catacombs of thesetwo phases at Klin-Yar; the exceptions are one rich catacomb (234)-2-   found before 1994 immediately to the east of our main trench, and onevery rich catacomb (389) found after 1996 during rescue excavationsabout 40 metres southeast of the centre of the elite plot. It thereforeseems that the elite plot extends somewhat further east and southeastthan the main trench of 1994-96, but we may have found most of therich catacombs belonging to this socially distinctive cemetery area.Using the dating of graves supplied by I. Gavritukin and V. Malashev (inBelinskij and Härke, forthcoming), it is clear that all Sarmatiancatacombs of the elite plot date to the Late Sarmatian period(Gavritukhin’s phase RZ); they were spread evenly across the area of the plot. Alanic catacombs then filled up the areas in between theSarmatian graves, in the 5 th /6 th centuries AD (phase I after Gavritukhin)more in the northern half of the plot, in the 7 th century AD (phase III)more in the southern half. The absence of graves from Gavritukin’sphase II is a further indication that some rich graves may be located inunexcavated areas immediately southeast of our main trench. Fourvery large Alanic catacombs (360, 363, 364 and 368) are at the centreof the elite plot; two of them (364 and 368) were robbed while another(360) was the richest catacomb found hitherto at Klin Yar. The manburied in catacomb 360 (dated to early/mid-7 th cent. AD) undoubtedlybelonged to the top level of Early Alanic society in the North Caucasus.-3-  Fig. 2Plan of the elite plot in Klin-Yar 3, with Late Sarmatian – Early Alanic gravesexcavated 1994-96  The indicators of elite status at Klin-Yar are all concentrated in thiscemetery area (Fig. 2). There are 14 sacrificial depositions of horse‘skins’ and entire horse in, on, and next to dromoi; catacomb 360 alonehas four of them. Elite indicators among the grave-goods found in thisarea are three bronze bowls, four glass vessels and three Byzantinecoins (two solidi of Tiberius Mauritius in 341, and one solidus of Heraclius and Sons on a necklace in 363). Other conspicuous grave-goods in the elite plot include five iron long swords (three in Sarmatian-4-   graves 351A, 361B and 365; two in Alanic graves 357 and 360) andfive iron stirrups (in Alanic graves 341, 360 and 363). There is also anentire series of artificially deformed skulls from the Sarmatian andAlanic graves in this area (after the anthropological report by A.Buzhilova et al., in Belinskij and Härke, forthcoming), supplying afurther indication of elite status. Fig. 3 Pattern of Late Sarmatian (above) and Early Alanic (below) family burial in theelite plot of Klin-Yar 3 Another interesting aspect of the elite plot is the clear family pattern of burial which develops in the early Alanic period (Härke 2000). LateSarmatian graves in the elite plot contain single burials; double burials(342, 351 and 361) were constructed by linking two single-burialcatacombs with a short dromos or an access pit (Fig. 3). In the earlyAlanic period, double and multiple burials were in each case depositedin the same chamber. There is clear evidence of re-opening of Alanicchambers and later deposition of bodies and grave-goods. In somelarge catacombs with single bodies, there had been space left for laterdepositions, for example in catacomb 371 where a woman had beenburied with a small child at her feet, leaving half of the chamber freefor a later burial. Where two adults had been buried, these wereinvariably a male and a female. The male body was always at theentrance into the chamber, and the woman away from it, at the farwall; where there was a third body, it was usually between the twoadult bodies in their conventional positions. All these observationssuggest that the catacombs in the elite plot were used as family or kin-group vaults from the early Alanic period onwards, but not yet in theLate Sarmatian period. The numbers of burials (taking into account themissing graves from Gavritukhin’s period II) in relation to the time span-5-
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