Medieval mass burial in Pereslavl-Zalessky 

Rasskazova A.V., Zheyfer V.A., Mazurok O.I.


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 4 (55)


              page 138150




The paper presents the results of the anthropological study of a mass grave located in the grounds of the kremlin of Pereslavl-Zalessky (European Russia). It has been preliminary dated to the 13th first half of the 14th century. This study is aimed at craniological investigation and establishing anthropological connections of the Medieval population of Pereslavl-Zalessky, as well as clarification of the circumstances of appearance of the mass burial within the town territory with the aid of anthropological methods. The human remains were analyzed to identify the number of individuals and to determine their sex and age. Determination of sex and age and recording of injuries were carried out on the craniological material. The craniological program was used to study 28 male and 16 female skulls. A canonical discriminant analysis was used for the intergroup analysis. The mass burial contained separated bones of 80 adults and 19 children. It was possible to identify 30 males and 24 females. The male component of the group was represented by virtually all age groups. The female part comprised mainly women aged 2035. Therefore, the interred were placed in the grave spontaneously, considerably later after their death; the bodies had time to decompose completely. Eleven instances of skull injuries without signs of necrotic process and healing were recorded. The location and characteristics of the burial and presence of several instances of fatal lacerated wounds indicate that the city residents died in the course of a military clash. Therefore, the studied series represents a time slice of the population of the medieval city. The canonical discriminant analysis on the craniological series of 53 revealed that the studied series is distinct from the territorially and chronologically close series of Yaroslavl and Kostroma Krivichs. It also showed that the formation of the population of Pereslavl-Zalessky was strongly influenced by the migration of the Ilmen Slovens and Smolensk-Polotsk Krivichs. Among the specifics of the Pereslavl series, also noteworthy is the strong influence of southern Russian migrants. On the contrary, the influence of the Finno-Ugric morphological component on the urban population of the 13th14th centuries was very insignificant.

Keywords: paleoanthropology, craniology, urban population, mass burial, Russians, medieval cities.


Funding. The work is published in accordance to the RAS Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology research plan.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 16.09.2020

Article is published: 23.12.2021


Rasskazova A.V., Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Leninskiy prospect, 32a, Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation, Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology MSU, Mokhovaya st., 11, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation, E-mail:,


Zheyfer V.A., Institute of Archeology RAS, Dm. Ulyanova st., 19, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation, E-mail:,


Mazurok O.I., Pereslavl-Zalessky Historical, Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve, Museum lane, 4, Pereslavl-Zalessky, 152024, Russian Federation, E-mail:,