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a depository for the burial of the bones of the dead. In Russian archaeological literature the term ossuarii refers primarily to small ceramic, alabaster, and stone boxes in which Middle Asian Zoroastrians buried the bones of the dead. The oldest ossuaries, dating from the end of the first millennium B.C., were found in Khwarazm; they are in the form of statues and depict the deified dead. Ossuaries were revered in the ancestor cult that was particularly characteristic of the Middle Asian variant of Zoroastrianism. From the fifth to the eighth century they were widespread in Middle Asia; they sometimes took the form of funerary buildings decorated with reliefs. Late Khwarazmian ossuaries have been found decorated with multicolored paintings and with inscriptions in which ossuaries are called tapankuk.


Rapoport, Iu. A. Iz istorii religii drevnego Khorezma (ossuarii). Moscow, 1971.

ossuary, bone house, ossarium

A storage place for the bones of the dead; either a structure or a vault lined with such bones ornamentally arranged.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 2004 and 2005, the CING was given remains from the Makedonitissa ossuary for genetic identification.
Last month, Shimron was granted access to the James ossuary by owner Oded Golan and was finally able to conclude his seven-year study.
The James ossuary is the "slam dunk" in the statistical analysis, but it was unfortunately stolen in the initial incompetence, probably by someone hoping for money.
The bones were collected after a year and placed in an ossuary.
One million people are buried here with the remains of a further two million stored in the ossuary and columbarium.
Mauritius and an adjacent ossuary with stacked human skulls.
In this autobiography, the octogenarian reports his battle to speed up publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, his $40,000 fine for breaking copyright law, and his advocacy for the authenticity of a pomegranate thought to come from Solomon's temple and an ossuary inscribed for James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.
Then there was the ossuary which might (or might not) contain the bones of Christ, more proof there was no resurrection.
Also the interior of the tower could be used as the ossuary where the remaining bones were stored.
Two iron nails were found in the tomb, one on the ground and one actually inside an ossuary, and, according to the film, mysteriously disappeared shortly after.
In 1990, an Israeli archaeologist found the tomb which appeared to contain the ossuary or bone box of Caiaphas.
Authorities in Spain say taxes levied on graves, a practice in that country, are outstanding on Sir Gilbert's plot and are planning to exhume his remains and dispose of them in a common ossuary.