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Slavonic Pagan Sanctuaries

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ISBN: 83-85463-27-5
Description: 258 pages (23,5x17cm), 105 figs.; 500 vols. issued
Condition: very good
Weight: 440g.


Leszek Pawel Slupecki, Slavonic Pagan Sanctuaries, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw 1994

1. The cult buildings of Slavonic, Germanic and Baltic tribes
2. Arcona and other temples in Rugen
3. Radogosc (Rethra) and other temples of the Lutizens and Abodrites
4. Pomeranian temples in the times of St Otto's mission
5. Temples in view of excavations
6. Under the open sky
7. Ruthenian sanctuaries
8. Sacred groves, waters and stones
9. Sacred mountains
10. The sacred mountain in the Slavonic myth of settlement
11. Statues of gods
12. Conclusions

The author of the book advances the thesis that the pagan Slavs erected cult buildings. The hypothesis is based not only on written sources, but also on the results of recent archaeological excavations in Gross Raden, Parchim, Wolin, Ralswiek and Feldberg. The author differentiates between sacrosanct temples (such as Arcona) and cult halls - places of both lay and religious meetings and feasts. The author asserts that roofed cult buildings were erected as early as in the 8th century A.D., at least by Western Slavs. Apart from temples and cult halls the author discusses Slavonic open-air cult places, such as circles and yards with effigies of gods (e.g. in Kiev and Perynia), holy groves (e.g. Prove grove), holy mountains (e.g. Sleza), waters (e.g. Glomac spring) and rocks, separated from the surrounding lay space in various ways. The issue of statues has been treated separately.
The author claims that Slavonic sanctuaries formed a certain hierarchy. The main shrines enjoyed higher status than other cult places. These might have been either temples or open-air shrines. The main sanctuaries (at least in Polabia and Pomerania) had oracles, which used horses and lot-casting for divination; their advice was sought in important matters concerning whole communities. In the main sanctuaries the most important offerings, including human sacrifices, were made, ceremonies and counselling assemblies were held. In Polabia the main temples had treasuries belonging to the worshiped gods, which functioned as state treasuries. They collected the shares of spoils due to the gods, tributes, or even regular poll-tax. The cult places were connected with main settlements. All the temples and cult halls that we are able to localize were situated in towns, strongholds or large settlements, and constituted their integral parts. Open-air sanctuaries, on the other hand, were usually located at some distance from settlements.
The main sanctuaries were often situated near water or on hills. Their plans contain motives of square (temples) and circle (fences of cult circles). The iconographically rich statue of the so-called Sviatovid from Zbruch, as well as mentions about a cult pole from Wolin, and other records, prove that in Slavonic sanctuaries the idea of the axis of the world was represented. Therefore, the author supposes that in the forms of their shrines the Slavs tried to reflect the image of the world present in their pagan mythology.