Olenii Island Burial Ground

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Olenii Island Burial Ground


(Oleneostrovskii burial ground).

(1) A Neolithic burial ground (second millennium B.C.)on the southern part of Olenii Island in Lake Onega. Excavations in 1936–38 by V. I. Ravdonikas revealed 177 burials. The skeletons were covered with red ocher. Some burials were double and triple. In four instances the deceased were lowered vertically into deep narrow pits. Among the articles usually found with the interred were flint and bone arrowheads, knives, bone daggers with flint insets, numerous ornaments made of elk or beaver teeth and of bear canines, and carved sculptural representations made of bone or antler (the head of an elk, serpents, male and female figures). Vertical burial No. 100, distinguished by a particular abundance of items, apparently belonged to a tribal or clan chief. Anthropologically, most of the skeletons were of an ancient type of Europeoid race (Cro-Magnons). There were also skulls with Mongoloid features, which indicates that man settled the northern part of European Russia from the south and from the east.

(2) A burial ground from the middle of the first millennium B.C. on Olenii Island in the Kola Gulf of the Barents Sea. Excavations in 1926 and 1947–48 uncovered 23 burials in shallow pits. The dead were buried in wooden troughs (hollowed-out logs) or wrapped in hides treated with resin. Two instances of cremation were discovered. The inventory included implements made of stone and bone—arrowheads, daggers, awls, needles, and fishhooks. A copper arrowhead and a small, sculpted elk head were also found. The burial ground probably belonged to ancient ancestors of the Lapps.


Gurina, N. N. Oleneostrovskii mogil’nik. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.