TEXTILES AND RITUALS IN CUMAEAN CREMATION BURIALS

22 Feb 2018

From the earliest colonial times the necropolis of Cumae has been characterised by cremation burials, deposited in a bronze or silver urn and placed in a stone cist. This burial system, present in different iterations throughout time, is well known and widely discussed in the literature. The presence of textiles used to wrap the bones or metal containers is recorded in the early nineteenth century excavation reports and has been confirmed by subsequent research. This use of textiles has been traditionally explained in light of the Homeric descriptions of heroic funerals. This paper attempts to systematically collect the available evidence, and to compare the information on funerary ceremonies that are known from the literary sources, with the data provided by the current analysis of extant textiles. The data collected to date indicate a continuity of specific textile use within cremation burials of Archaic Cumae, which whilst mimicking a much older tradition, express very different social realities.