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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.