Fire, water, stone

We ought to ask ourselves why we find it difficult to accept the burning of stone as a deliberate ritual element, whereas we have no problems acceting the same when it comes to the burning of the human body. /…/
Should we as archaeologists not seriously ask whether the stone might have been burnt as part of a deliberate process; that burnt stone was precisely what people wanted to achieve. /…/
Hypothetically, of course, the presence of fire-cracked stone can be explained as being the residue of various activities, ritual or functional, subsequently deposited in the mounds, and /…/ It may be questioned, however, whether the evidence speaks in favour of this, and above all whether it seems like a probable explanation in the first place. /…/
I think there is justification for believing that stone was burnt for ritual purposes, “for its own sake”. This is based on the similarity in principle to the way the construction of Vedic fire altars reflects how people thought in terms of elements. A hypothesis that I have put forward before is that fire-cracked stone was produced for ritual reasons as a deliberate process, by analogy with the way the dead body was disintegrated by fire during cremation.
/…/
As we saw above, the combination of complementary fire and liquid is important in the Vedic and the Iranian rituals, both in the form of the divine drink soma and in the element of water. The significance of fire and liquid in combination is clearly revealed in the Scandinavian finds, not just in the form of fire-cracked stone and the combination of elements in graves and rock carvings described above, but also in the pottery finds.
/…/
it is clear that the combination of liquid (water), fire, and stone could have had an effective audiovisual expression in the creation of fire-cracked stone, when water was poured on heated stone. The significant role of water and liquid as one of the original elements may also have been physically expressed in the way certain burnt mounds were created in the landscape, also in combination with other elements and zones in the physical geography.
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people in the early and middle Bronze Age believed that heights with cairns were inhabited by the dead, whereas burnt mounds were in a kind of intermediate zone that was believed to reflect the abode of the living.

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The question of what actually happened in the different European societies that began, from the middle of the second millenium BC, to adopt the forms, symbolism, and iconography that mainly seem to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean area and further east, has often been avoided in the research debate on the Bronze Age in recent years /…/
Kristian Kristiansen /…/ has argued that the establishment of different institutions expressing both secular power and religion/cosmology was linked to the emergence of an élite. /…/ Kristiansen has focused especually on what he interprets as the occurence of an institution of twin rulers, vased on an ideology of divine rulers, tramsmitted from the eastern Mediterranean area northwards in Europe. The background, he says, is part of a basic Indo-European belief system with twin gods, with counterparts in both ancient Indian and Bronze Age Greece. The twin rulers together stood for both a religious dimension and secular power. This institution would have been introduced during the Early Bronze Age but reached its zenith in Scandinavia in the Late Bronze Age.
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A posible reason why people in south Scandinavia chose to adopt a partly foreign symbol system in the Late Neolithic and/or the Early Bronze Age could be that it came together with the knowledge and rites that these symbols represented.
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The resistance to the Indo-Europeans as a reality, as I see it, is not due to a lack of source material, but a result of the unwillingness of scholars, for ideological reasons, to see any process that could be called Indo-Europeanization or the spread of Indo-European culture. In my opinion, this is politically correct conformism to today’s ideological situation

Anders Kaliff. Fire, Water, Heaven and Earth. Ritual practice and cosmology in ancient Scandinavia: an Indo-European perspective

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