Coins as grave goods in child inhumation graves and their position in relation to the deceased: The case of Viminacium southern cemeteries
Keywords:Viminacium cemeteries, Grave goods, Ritual coin finds, Charon’s obol
The excavations of Viminacium southern cemeteries revealed 1,808 child inhumations, 521 of them containing coins as grave goods. The present study examines the frequency of coin occurrence in these graves, compared to other grave goods, and paying special attention to the allocation according to the distinguished age groups.
In most of the cases, a single specimen was discovered (484), while larger number of deposited coins occur less often (Fig. 5).
The further observations concern the placement of the coin offerings in relation to the deceased. Following the established methods in human anthropology (cf. Clarke 1979 158), eight positions of coins in relation to the deceased has been distinguished: A – on/around the head; B – in the mouth; C – on/near the right arm and in the right hand; D – on/near the torso; E – on/near the left arm and in the left hand; F – on/near the pelvis; G – on/near the right leg; H – on/near the left leg.
The summarized observations allow to conclude that ca. 64% of the coin finds were related to the area of the head of the deceased child (positions A and B) (Fig. 6).
These allow to conclude that single coins in the graves could unquestionably be connected to the ritual of payment for the transition to the underworld (as Charon’s obol), although in some instances they could be considered also as coins intended for “expenses” in the other world (viaticum).