Prehistory funerary practices were always central to the Archaeology maybe due to the fact that the death is inseparable of life and humans’ life is the essence of the science of the past. For the Neolithic period, before the separation of the dead from the living ones in the set necropolises, many writings are devoted to the description and interpretation of the intramural burials. Some scholars believe that the inhumations within the settlement’s boundaries represent the usual way of how people had been buried. Others argue that these intramural burials are occasional and are result of accidental circumstances. They keep asking themselves where the ‘ordinary’ burials are as those found inside the settlements’ area are just a really small percentage of the inhabitants.
This paper aims to present and discuss a different type of burials, being ordinary or not, revealed within the Early Neolithic ditches in Thrace, Northern Greece and Anatolia with a focus set on the Bulgarian lands. The perception of ditched enclosures as places where complex practices involving funerary procedures were performed during Recent Prehistory is an old issue in European archaeology, but a relatively recent one for the Balkans, namely in the South. This is due mainly to the circumstance that ditched enclosures only recently started to be detected in their real archaeological expression – in the last 5 to 10 years.
The large numbers of human bones from the Neolithic enclosed sites in Central and Western Europe (Lengyel Culture, LBK Culture, Noyen Culture, Windmill Hill Culture, etc.), and the special treatment afforded to them must be attributed with significance in considering the function of the sites. There is evidence that some complete bodies were buried on these sites, while some bodies were affected by recuttings which led to parts of them being removed. It is also possible that the bodies were originally laid in the ditch systems and were later exhumed, perhaps with the purpose with the redepositing them elsewhere. Hearths in the ditches are evidence that open fires were lit within them and may indicate that human bodies or bones were burnt inside the ditches or a specific rituals had taken part there.
Many of the enclosed sites in south-eastern Europe may appear to be different from those of north-western Europe as they have traces of settlements or villages in the interior. These sites, however, also have evidence of activities in their enclosure systems and in features in the interior which match those that were undertaken on the sites in north-western Europe. Similar funeral activities were therefor probably also carried out of some of these ‘enclosed villages’.
We should maybe consider that the burials in the ditches could actually be the ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ ones rather than exceptions.