Adienne C. Frie


Tumuli are often analyzed as a coherent whole in the hope of discerning patterns that indicate social processes inhered in the monument. However, in the search for patterning too often the mound is analytically flattened, and examined as if it was created all at once with a coherent plan. In the following, I will focus on the tumulus at Hrib, an Iron Age tumulus in the Bela krajina region of Slovenia, and undertake a multiscalar analysis that considers temporal distinctions, interment ritual, grave goods, and gender to draw more nuanced conclusions about the social activities that led to the formation of this tumulus. The first level of analysis is the scale of individual ritual, where choices about how to appropriately dispose of and adorn the body are negotiated. Second is the social context of death and burial, which takes place at an intra-generational scale – that is, how death may resonate with the living community, and how the social relations of the living are affected by death. The final scale is the consideration of the tumulus as a whole at a multi-generational scale, and how cemeteries are places with continuous social impact, even when distinct memories of those interred have faded. This shift in the scale of analysis of the tumulus at Hrib illuminates that social distinctions were marked according to an external/internal binary, where material culture and social practices, including grave goods and funerary ritual, expressed social differences internally, while the external appearance of the mound projected unity.