Hecatombs! (was Horseflesh)
- Jeff quoted Gyula Laszlo:
>"We know that the deceased's steed was sacrificed, but as[nitpicking mode]
>only the skin, together with the skull and lower legs, was
>actually placed in the grave to provide transport for the journey
>to the other-world, we may assume that the horse's flesh was
>eaten at a burial feast, with certain parts being 'offered' to the
Now this is the sort of thinking that gets archaeology a bad name...
Some questions/problems with the above:
How do we know that the horse belonged to the deceased and not a generous
neighbour, pious community etc?
Why assume that the horse is there to provide transport for the journey to
the otherworld? (It would have to be a pretty short journey - a shadow's
widhth, perhaps? - if the beast hasn't even got whole legs...)
It could equally well have been because horses were a sign of status
or wealth, and nothing to do with beliefs in the afterlife at all.
And where's the _evidence_ (ethnographic, historical, literary, or other)
for this "burial feast"? And for "certain parts" being offered to the dead?
possibility, yes, but why *assume* it? Perhaps the whole body was offered to
a particular deity, for example, or fed to the dogs, or distributed to the
(Sorry, Jeff, nothing personal - I know that *you* didn't write it!! - but
this is an excellent example of how reconstructions can get screwed up by
academics who ought to know better.)
Grumpily, and definitely tetchy due to overwork
Alastair in Prague