Station: [229] Urns with Human Face Designs

This urn is unique in Saxony; it comes from a grave in Liebersee, in North Saxony. Its carefully modelled ears and nose clearly show that it’s supposed to be a human face. Bronze pins and hair rings were found stuck in the sand all round the urn.  These indicate that it was originally encased in fabrics, mimicking a human wearing the jewellery and dress of the time. 

Urns with human faces are a phenomena that date from the early Iron Age.  They are mostly found in Tuscany, along the Baltic Sea and in the foothills of the Harz mountains. Pins have also been found around urns that don’t have faces in other graves in Saxony, showing that the people back then considered these urns to be portraits of their deceased. Urns that were shaped like houses show that the urn was regarded as the dead person’s house. Both of these interpretations are feasible because some of the urns with faces have an opening in the side, similar to a doorway. In Saxony, especially Oberlausitz, urns in the shape of stoves or ovens are common. In this event, the tomb was regarded as the deceased’s home.