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Constructing Memory: The Mounded Graves of The Hallstatt Period At Dunajská Lužná-Nové Košariská, Slovakia
One of various factors that allow for the cohesion of a society and for the identity construction of its members is the collective memory, which consists, as the research of Jan Assmann has shown, of different elements among which the ‘communicative’ and ‘cultural memory’ are the most crucial. Cultural memory is the only instance that enables pre-literate societies to store and recall their identity-securing narratives and knowledge. According to Assmann, the cultural memory is recalled through rites and festivities by the community. Although the content and the process of these performances are not accessible without additional sources, they might have left traces in the archaeological record, in particular in burials. In order to explore how burials possibly contributed to the formation and recalling of the communicative and cultural memory in a prehistoric community, the mounded graves of Dunajská Lužná-Nové Košariská in southwestern Slovakia are being discussed. The mounds, dating to the Hallstatt period, were the chosen burial type of the elite which had a specific interest to maintain the cultural memory. As will be shown, the communicative aspect of the graves as well as rituals that were performed during the funeral created memorable events that became part of the communicative memory. Emotionally charged through a dense layering of events, combined with their monumental size, location and longevity, the mounds transformed into mnemonic devices. Together with other reference points in the landscape they became part of a mnemotope that provided tangible evidence for the narratives included in the cultural memory.