In archaeology the term is used for a stone or wooden chamber that served as a coffin or burial place (Britannica). These can date back to the Bronze Age (NOSAS). The Viking Age chess pieces in Uig, isle of Lewis, are said to have been discovered in a stone cist.
From old Greek kistē which means ‘a box’. It is still used in Afrikaans and Dutch for a box. Used in Middle English as cist or kist meaning ‘chest’. See: Oxford Dictionaries.