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On the problem of practical destination of so-called “reliquaries“ in medieval eastern europe

Journal: Povolzhskaya Arkheologiya (The Volga River Region Archaeology) (Vol.2, No. 8)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ;

Page : 49-69

Keywords : the Khazar Kaganate; Volga Bulgaria; Central Asia; the Early Middle Ages; reliquaries; neck-plugs; inflatable leather boats; “matara” bags“; grave goods;

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A specific type of items – horn tubes, common in the Khazar Kaganate and adjacent territories is considered. The author makes a conclusion that the term “reliquary” often used to denote them does not correspond to the initial purpose of these items. During the life of the owner, they had not been containers designed to store objects of worship. Written, visual, archaeological and ethnographic sources testify to the use of these items by pastoral peoples of Eurasian steppes as devices to inflate leather boat analogs when crossing rivers. At the same time, they were naturally objects of worship, as the means of saving lives at crossings. They were often placed in burials, playing the role of repositories for sacred objects, and were also used in burial rites as items necessary for the afterlife.

Last modified: 2017-05-15 14:56:56