Vol. 74 No. 4 (2022)
Research Article

A taphonomic approach to Corded Ware culture mortuary practices in Moravia

Anna Pankowská
Katedra antropologie, Filozofická Fakulta, Západočeská univerzita v Plzni, Sedláčkova 15, CZ-30614 Plzeň

Published 01-02-2023


  • archaeothanatology,
  • bone bioerosion,
  • Corded Ware culture,
  • microbiome,
  • central Moravia,
  • machine learning
  • ...More

How to Cite

Pankowská, A. (2023). A taphonomic approach to Corded Ware culture mortuary practices in Moravia. Archeologické Rozhledy, 74(4), 462–478. https://doi.org/10.35686/AR.2022.22


The reconstruction of the grave environment is a key element in the interpretation of the burial rite. The methods of field anthropology and histotaphonomy can be useful in gaining a better understanding of the micro-environment in which the dead body decomposed. Based on the example of five graves from the period of the Corded Ware culture, the study aims to determine the conditions in which the bodies of the deceased were found, or how they were postmortem treated. The skeletal remains of four individuals bore traces of deposition in a hollow space. A histological analysis revealed that the decomposition of soft tissues in these individuals must either have been arrested or, in contrast, highly accelerated, since the bone microstructure was not damaged by microorganisms. The decomposition of the bodies could have been accelerated in an open space such as a partially sunken grave with a construction. Alternatively, decomposition could have occurred as the result of higher temperatures in the form of heat or smoke, but also due to a repeatedly waterlogged environment. Specific traces exist on skeletal remains for all of these possibilities. A complex taphonomic analysis of the skeletal remains brings new and more detailed information about the circumstances of the burial, significantly expanding the possibilities of interpreting the concept of death in the past.


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