House of the dead
In some areas of central Europe during the Bronze Age wealthy and important individuals were buried in small wooden houses, aptly called houses of the dead. Often they were simplified imitations of houses but sometimes were more complex, open buildings with small halls and timber beams.
In Germany the remains of such houses for the dead are rarely found in Bronze Age graves. For this reason the excavation in Borchen-Etteln, near Paderborn, is of particular importance. Here, a House of the Dead was detected by the remains of charred wood; dendrochronological investigation dated the wood to be cut sometime between 1300-1250 BC.
The well-preserved tomb allows for a fairly accurate reconstruction of the funeral ceremony: Firstly, a hut made of oak wood was built over a flat, elongated hollow. Secondly, the ashes of the burned corpse was put inside the house and more haze was added to holes in the ground. The next step was to cover the house with an Astwerk Clay mixture (clay and hay) and locked with more oak planks.
At this point the smouldering fire could spread, although due to the accumulation of heal in an enclosed space, the fire could take several days to become visible. The remains are finally covered with ground to form a burial mound.