To pit the pig: The curious case of feature E63 at Tell Petko Karavelovo
Keywords:Balkan Chalcolithic, ritual pits, structured deposition, pig sacrifice, loom-weights, gender roles in prehistory
This paper includes a detailed analysis of feature E63 at Tell Petko Karavelovo which is a pit excavated in 2021 measuring 0.83–0.87 m in diameter and 0.45 m in depth. Four different layers were identified in the fill. The deposit could be defined as ‘odd’ and consists of burnt daub pieces, sherds, stone tools, fragments of oven base plaster, unfired loom weights, crow wing bones, and an almost complete skeleton of a piglet which was killed by a heavy blow on the head. Both radiocarbon dates and stratigraphic evidence show that feature E63 belongs to the Petko Karavelovo B phase (middle Chalcolithic), ca. 4700 cal. BC.
There is enough evidence to suggest that the pig was sacrificed. Based on the deposit’s analysis and on various later examples of pig sacrifice we will argue that pit E63 represents the remains of a special social practice performed by women.