There is a rich iconographic tradition demonstrating the importance of animals in ritual in the Dolenjska Hallstatt archaeological culture of Early Iron Age Slovenia (800–300 bce
). However, the role of animals in mortuary practice is not well represented iconographically, though faunal remains in graves indicate that their inclusion was an integral part of funerary performance. Here, animal bones from burials are compared to images of animal sacrifice, focusing on the ritual distinctions between the deposition of whole animal bodies versus animal parts. It is proposed that human–animal relationships were a key component of funerary animal sacrifice in these multispecies communities. The deposition of whole horses may have been due to a personal relationship with the deceased human. In turn, the sacrifice of an animal and division of its parts may have been essential for the management of group ties with the loss of a community member. Particular elements such as teeth, horns, and claws may have served as amulets—perhaps indicating that these were personal items that had to be placed in the grave with the deceased or that the deceased needed continued protection or other symbolic aid.
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