Burial Customs

Not much has been reconstructed as it pertains to the culture of those who lived in the Lepenski Vir area. However, discoveries point to a complex social system with elaborate burial site from which norms and rituals can be inferred. Although the excavators found an elaborate cemetery, separate burial site were found by excavators.

Some dead people were found to be buried beneath the houses, and under the floors which had been exceptionally well preserved. Although these were believed to have been prominent people such as elders, the skeletons of children were also found. It is therefore unknown what kind of formula was used to decide who ought to be buried beneath the house or in the cemetery.

It is, however, believed that the culture practiced a religious cult of heads, evidenced by the sculptures only being of heads. From this perspective, one can therefore also argue that ritual burials may have involved the removal of the skull from the dead person’s head to bury it separately from the body. These skulls (males) would be buried amidst crushed stones and formed the base upon which houses would be later built. The skeleton that has been preserved best is the one which was excavated from house 69 and was dug shallow. This skull has been found to originate from the period of Vir I or the Proto-Vir.

The skeletons of the people buried under the floor also show that the bodies were placed in such a way that the widening parts of the houses’ central installation are above the genitals. This has led to the conclusion by the researchers that it could be a symbol of birth, irrespective of the gender of the body buried. Ceramic vessels have also been found which were filled with ash, this may have had some ritual meaning.