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Abstract

Deliberate violence to remains can be inflicted post-mortem but archaeologically distinguishing the source of disturbance is hard enough while interpreting motive may be impossible. We present the results of excavation of 37 Bronze Age mounds, northernMongolia. Based on detailed analysis of burial structure, patterns of articulation, damage to elements and movement of bones within and outside the burial space, we argue there is evidence of human activity distinguishable from that of animals. Alternative hypotheses of disturbance incidental to robbery versus intentional post-mortem violence are evaluated in the context of the graves themselves, the archaeological context and ethnographic studies.

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