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Heathen Burials

  1. Jun 10, 2008 #1
    When a burial grounds of Germanic and/or Nordic/Germanic people is discovered, archaeologist seem to know that it is heathen or pre-christian by the south-west to north-east orientation of the graves. I can not determine which way the head points though. Does anyone know or have a guess why this tradition was practiced?

    updated edit: heads to the south-west
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2008 #2


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    In early christian (through the middle ages) bodies were buried so that when they rose up they would be facing east - the rising sun representing christ/redeemer.
    So actualy feet east, heads west - presumably they spring up like someone was pulling the up by the nose.

    Of course a lot of non-christian societies worshipped the sun, thats where the christians got the idea from, but worrying about the body after death is generally a christian thing (except forthe egyptians of course!)
  4. Jun 10, 2008 #3


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    Lavish burials with grave goods to be of use dfor the deceased after death is amply attested among pagans other than just Egyptians.
    The Chinese, the early Merovingians, the Vikings, Aztecs and Incas.

    In fact, just about every civilization we know about have had ideas andworries concerning the afterlife of a person.

    And for many of these, concern for the physical remains of the deceased was also present.
  5. Jun 10, 2008 #4


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    I'm not sure that most other pagan religions dealt with the physical resurection to the same extent that christian ones did. It was also moreimportant how you died and they allowed cremations. Grave goods in anglo-saxon/viking burials are thought to be more a status thing than religion.

    Of course opinions change and I was thinking mostly of european history.
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