of the Graves
1. Modern Graves
The upper part of the tumulus on the east side and largely in
the northern sector was used for a series of early Modern graves
of infants/fetuses (e.g. Tomb 11),
several adults (e.g. Tomb 23, as well as a number of associated animals (e.g.
Tomb 19). Small finds associated with these graves were scarce, but in a few
of them a solitary and much disintegrated bronze or copper alloy coin was associated
with the deceased. Not one of these coins is legible enough to provide a firm
date, but on the basis of their fabric, weight, and what is visible on their
surface, the coins appear to date, according to Dr. Shpresa Gjongecaj who inspected
some of them in 2004, to the modern era, perhaps as early as the 17th or 18th
century. These modern graves are predominantly oriented east-west, with the
head to the west facing east, a possible index of religious affiliation.
2. Early Iron Age Graves
The total number of graves cleared to the end of the 2005 season
was 62, and a further four burials were uncovered but not excavated.
Most of the Early Iron Age burials were in the characteristic “flexed” position,
with several of the tombs containing more than one individual.
The state of preservation of the bone in these tombs varied: some,
like Tombs 5 and 18, were comparatively poorly preserved, while
others were very well preserved. Unlike the modern burials, the
Early Iron Age tombs had no fixed orientation (indeed, individuals
in multiple burials could lie at different orientations). Finds
deposited in individual tombs included whole vessels of the Early
Iron Age handmade matt-painted style as well as unpainted ceramics,
several so-called spectacle fibulae of a type familiar in sanctuaries
and tombs in Greece, Italy, and the Balkans in the 10th through
8th centuries B.C., as well as various other bronze, iron, gold,
and bimetallic objects (see Overview of Finds).
The flexed disposition of the skeleton is traditionally explained
by the fact that the body was laid out with the torso in a supine
position, the arms normally folded across the lower torso or pelvic
region, but with the legs bent at the knees and thus drawn up.
In time, the weight of earth above the tomb caused the legs
or fall to one side, thus resulting in the typical flexed position.
In some cases the legs were only slightly bent. The difference
in the degree of flexing could, however, be rather marked,
so much so
that in the case of a few tombs the degree of flexing was so pronounced
that it raised the possibility that the deceased
was intentionally “bundled,” not only
for burial, but also for transportation to the tumulus site. The
of bundling the deceased for transport – particularly if
they died at any distance from the tumulus – and burial will
form part of our ongoing assessment and analysis of the Lofkënd
burials. Some of the burials, like Tombs 41 and 42, were in a more
In addition to the inhumed bodies of Early Iron Age adults and
adolescents, the remains of several Early Iron Age infants
or children were encountered.
The skulls of three infants/children were found in Tomb 62. Although
there was no real evidence of cremation among the tombs uncovered
in 2004 and 2005, a number of graves displayed evidence of some
burning in situ. In some instances, traces of blackened material
with calcareous earth was noted, but there was no evidence of
human bone cremated in the normal sense. In other cases, poorly
bone was found together with what appeared to be burnt clay.
A similar phenomenon was encountered at the burial tumulus
of Patos excavated
by Professor Muzafer Korkuti in 1976, who is of the opinion that
clay was thrown onto burning bone during the funerary ritual
resulting in this characteristic fire-affected clay.
Among the most well endowed of the burials were Tombs 17, 52,
and 55. It appears that the richest burials encountered in
2004 and 2005
were of younger, adolescent, females, which may be more than
a coincidence, and will be closely analyzed in our final publication.
Tomb 52 from the west. In addition to
two pots, grave goods included two sheet gold roundels on either
side of the cranium at the top of the photo, discovered once the
pots were removed. A second cranium is at the bottom of the photo
Tomb 55 from the southwest. Grave
goods include a bronze diadem, bronze fibula, iron tubular beads
and a plain pot
The western portion of Tomb
17 during excavation showing grave goods in situ, including a stemmed
goblet, a large bronze spectacle fibula, an iron fibula, a bronze
diadem, a bimetallic pin (bronze and iron), and a bead of sardonyx