Vashchuk D., Cherkas B. The Eastern Boundary of Europe:
The Ukrainian Frontier in the Late Middle Ages.
2nd edition, supplemented. Kamianets-Podilskyi:
IE Pankova A. S., 2022. 188 p.: ill.

Andrii FEDORUK
Candidate of Historical Sciences (Ph.D. in History), Leading Research Fellow,
Chernivtsi Regional Museum
(Ukraine, Chernivtsi), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1305-4898

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2021.06.001

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DEVIANT BURIALS IN MEDIEVAL VILNIUS:
SAINTS OR CRIMINALS?

Irma KAPLŪNAITĖ
PhD. In History, Research Fellow,
Lithuanian Institute of History 
(Lithuania, Vilnius), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ORCID: https:// orcid.org/0000-0002-4406-8248

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2021.06.001

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Abstract

Christian cemeteries are distinguished by certain typical burial rites. Some of the rites are characteristic of this religion, while others are common and have been known since the Stone Age. However, in all the Christian burial sites across Europe, there are always some unusual graves, sometimes called deviant (or atypical) burials; they differ from other graves and their exceptionality can occur in various burial elements. Although the first distinctive features that come to mind when conducting archaeological investigations in Christian burials are decapitation or burial in a prone position, there are many more possible distinctive features to consider. These could be burials in unusual places (isolated areas of a cemetery), burials in unusual positions, decapitations, cut-off limbs, presence of sharp objects within the body, stones or coins inside the mouth, mass graves, stoned burials covered with stones, cremation in an inhumation site (partial cremation), crime, torture, evidence of special rituals on skeletons, and so on. The following elements are to be considered when discussing deviant burials: 1) location of a grave, 2) construction of a grave, 3) spatial orientation, and 4) body treatment. When it comes to the deviant burials in medieval or modern European cemeteries, atypical cases are usually associated with vampires and witches. In Lithuania, unusual graves are sometimes associated with Pagan relics and ethnography. Deviant burials could also be accorded to outcasts of the community: criminals, people who have committed suicide, or those who have not been baptised. In other cases, a possible deep faith of the deceased is emphasised. Recently, a new field of research - 'judicial archaeology' - has emerged, in which it is sought to explain unusual burials as a possible punishment for criminals rather than a magical act. It can be concluded that the number of deviant burials discovered in the analysed medieval cemeteries was not that high. Some cases may indicate a different perception of the assessment of a deceased person, but there are few of them (except for beheading). The other cases can often be simply explained practically. For example, the stones could be related to wooden constructions of the grave, various pathologies determined the distinctive positioning of the body, the outcasts of the community (criminals or suicides) could be buried in a more secluded place, and so on. Of course, one can identify the relics of Paganism in unusual burials, especially in cases when the deceased was interred on the side or in a prone position.

Keywords:

Medieval Vilnius, cemetery, deviant burials, Christianity, archaeology

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THE CZORTORYSKI PRINCES CULTURAL HERITAGE:
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE FAMILY HISTORY ARCHIVE
(15–16 CENTURIES)

Dmytro VASHCHUK
Candidate of Historical Sciences (Ph.D. in History), Senior Research Fellow,
Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
(Ukraine, Kyiv), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0377-1233

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2021.06.001

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Abstract

The Czortoryski princely family representatives held high government positions first in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural heritage of the family is extremely extensive: from written documents to architectural monuments on the territory of the modern states: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. The subject of the article is the history of the Czortoryski princes family archive formation during the 15–16th centuries. Having started since the 40s of the 16th century, the number of written documents increased significantly, so we limited the upper chronological limit with 1524, the death year of Semen Oleksandrovych Czortoryski, the representative of the Lithuanian branch. The origin of the family is connected with the name of Prince Kostiantyn, the son of Grand Duke of Lithuania Olgerd or his brother Koriat. His own documentary heritage is not known to us. His descendants, namely Vasyl Kostiantynovych and his sons Ivan, Olexandr and Mykhailo are of great importance for the study of the subject matter in this research. Among the documentary materials studied, we note the first grants of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk to Prince Ivan Vasylovych, which are known from later confirmations. This prince left no descendants, and thus it is unlikely that his personal archive has survived. Two other Vasyl Kostiantynovich's sons Olexandr and Mykhailo founded two branches of the family: Lithuanian (Lohoisk/Lohozsk) and Volyn. According to the information from the sources we have found, we can assume that, firstly the family archive dates back to the 40s of the 15th century, when the first source information was recorded, and secondly each family branch kept its family documents separately. Accordingly, two collections were formed: 1) descendants of Oleksandr Vasylovych; 2) descendants of Mykhailo Vasylovych.

Keywords:

Czortoryski princes, descendants, family archive, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, cultural heritage.

Archiv

Russian State Archive of Early Acts (Moscow)

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STYLI IN VILNIUS

Rytis JONAITIS
PhD. in History, Research Fellow,
Lithuanian Institute of History
(Lithuania, Vilnius), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ORCID: https:// orcid.org/0000-0003-1079-330X

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2021.06.001

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Abstract

Stylus is a metal or bone instrument that was used for writing on a birch bark or wax-coated wooden tablets. The tool itself (Greek: stilos; Latin: stilus) originated in antiquity: styli were common in ancient Greece and Rome. In Medieval Rus', which is characterised by an abundance of archaeological finds related to writing, the first styli date back to the 10th century. In the Middle Ages two types of styli were used – made of iron, for writing on birch, and made of animal bone, for writing on waxed tablets. This particular paper focuses on the latter. Medieval bone styli are a very rare find in Lithuanian archaeological material, especially in burial monuments. According to the data from 1998, only 15 graves out of almost 8000 contained styli. Bone styli are also rare in urban cultural layers. In addition, styli found in cities precede those found in burial grounds. Styli found in ethnic Lithuania are identical to those found in other cities of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, therefore their origin and spread could be associated with the influence of Ruthenian cities of the duchy. Two medieval burial grounds were found in the earliest towns of pagan Lithuania – Kernavė and Vilnius – where the dead were buried according to the Christian tradition (inhumation of the deceased, the east-west orientation (head to the west), wooden constructions, the scant presence of grave goods, and so forth). The most abundant type of grave goods included ornaments; however no tools or weapons typical of pagan burials were found in these two burial grounds. According to archaeological and historical material, burial grounds in Kernavė and Bokšto Street are nearly contemporaneous, both dating back to 13th–14th century although, the burial ground in Bokšto Street remained in use late as the 15th century. Various arguments are provided in debates on the religious affiliation of those who buried members of their community in these burial grounds. Some researchers disagree that the Orthodox were buried in these two burial grounds in the still pagan Lithuania. The lack of evidence on writing in the layers of the town of Kernavė, that is the absence of styli (except those found on the site of the ruler's castle), birch bark or waxed tablets, is presented as one of the arguments supporting the theory of non-Orthodox burials there. It is well known, that such finds were typical of Rus' cities, especially in Great Novgorod, where 1144 items of birch bark have been found up to 2021. Notably, fewer such finds were found in other cities of the Rus'. During the detailed archaeological investigations on the burial ground in Bokšto Street, several bone styli were found. It must be mentioned, that these artefacts were not found in the horizon of the burial ground, but in the later cultural layer, dating back to the 16th century. The material found is discussed in this paper. We also tried to answer the question of whether these styli could have originated from the horizon of the burial ground and how (or if) they could be associated with the 'Civitas Rutenica', Ruthenian city of Vilnius, which was mentioned in historical sources in 1383.

Keywords:

styli, writing, Orthodoxy, burial rites, Middle Ages.

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