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Stone lines and burnt bones: ritual elaborations in Xiongnu mortuary arenas of Inner Asia

  • Bryan K. Miller (a1), Cheryl A. Makarewicz (a2), Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan (a3) and Tömörbaatar Tüvshinjargal (a3)

The vast mortuary complexes of the Xiongnu, the world’s first nomadic empire (c. 200 BC–AD 100), were important statements of elite power and ritual commemoration in Inner Asia. Very few of the features that accompanied the main tombs, however, have been fully excavated and investigated. This study is one of the first to assess completely the small archaeological features—and associated faunal remains—that surround the more monumental structures, features that intimate substantial investments in, and ritual activities around, these mortuary arenas. This research provides an important contribution to the understanding of the social politics of ritual practices and the development of complex institutions in steppe pastoral societies.

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