The Neolithic site of Priedaine in Jūrmala was excavated on a small scale in 2007–2008, yielding an assemblage of Comb Ceramics, along with unique wooden implements and fragments of pine-lath fishing structures. The environment and subsistence resources are indicated by plant macrofossil remains and a small faunal collection. Located by a palaeolake and also very close to the sea, the site, dated to c. 3700–3500 cal BC, would have been oriented towards aquatic resource exploitation. However, it had a wider range of functions, as indicated by the evidence of flint and amber processing.
The article describes the possibilities and limitations of ancient DNA research on organic materials that are usually not the focus of archaeogenetics, because of their low preservation potential and thus rareness in archaeological settings. These are remains from fish and birds, animal hairs, and coprolites. Several of the author’s own key studies from different regions and time periods are presented.
In October 2014 and June 2015, a team of scholars and students from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw featuring the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, made an underwater survey in the unnamed lake (formerly Herrn-See) in the village of Lubanowo (formerly Liebenow) in Western Pomerania. During the underwater research, weapons, tools and horse harness parts (including chain reins) were found. They are dated mainly to the Roman Period, but also to the Middle Ages. Some items bear traces of ritual destruction. Parallels may be pointed out with weapons in Przeworsk culture, and to some extent also in Scandinavia. The site should be attributed to sacrificial military deposits. Its extraordinary character lies in the fact that so far it is the only site of its type which is still in its ‘lake stage’, i.e. not a marsh or bog. Most probably it was used by local inhabitants, the people of the Lubusz group.
The article deals with characteristics of the cultural landscape of archaeological sites of Dollkeim-Kovrovo (Sambian-Natangian) culture dating from the Roman Period. The study is based on a spatial analysis, and is built on the currently known information, drawn from prewar archives, publications, research from the second half of the 20th century, and on the results of field surveys conducted by the author. GIS-based techniques were applied. The archaeological sites from the Roman Period located on the eastern border of Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture in the valleys of the River Pregolja and the River Dejma are the focus of attention. In order to carry out a comparative analysis, information on the burial grounds of the ‘cultural core’ on the Samland Peninsula is used. The spatial layout of the burial grounds and settlements is analysed. As a result, a pattern for the spatial evolution of Dollkeim-Kovrovo culture in the Roman Period and the testing of the hypothesis of the existence of ‘contact zones’ in the West Balt cultural circle are proposed for consideration.
The Grebieten burial ground, situated in the former Kreis Fischhausen of the German Empire’s province of East Prussia, (currently in the Zelenogradskii district of the Kaliningrad oblast’, Russian Federation), represents a reference monument of Sambian-Natangian culture, and at the same time is one of its best investigated archaeological sites. However, a recent comparative analysis of the available sources of information showed that the modern state of knowledge is incomplete, while the research potential of the monument is far from being exhausted. This article gives an overview of the state of research, as well as of the open questions and gaps in our knowledge. Along with a description of the currently available sources of information and their limitations, the publication informs readers about recently conducted archaeological studies, performed both on the partially preserved prewar archaeological material and on the monument. Besides the actual reintroduction of Grebieten into scientific research, the authors point out its role and its significance in the much more complex archaeological context. The results of recent research suggest strongly that the Grebieten burial ground is part of a much larger complex of archaeological monuments situated along the western coast of the Sambian Peninsula, in the close vicinity of amber collecting areas. This settlement complex played an important role in the collection and trade in amber, which defined the nature of Sambian-Natangian culture in the Roman Iron Age and Migration Period. Further multilateral investigations of the Grebieten burial ground should lead to a clearer view of the settlement system, the social structure, everyday life and contacts of the population of Sambia in the Roman Iron Age.
The article discusses the question of palaeolandscapes of cemeteries from the Roman Period and the Migration Period in the area of the Masurian Lakeland. The primary purpose of the multidisciplinary study was to answer the questions: 1) whether the natural features of the palaeolandscape were important for the choice of location for a cemetery; and 2) whether the inside landscapes of cemeteries were consciously shaped and lasted long. An analysis of the locations of several cemeteries from the Roman Period and the Migration Period uncovered in the study area showed clearly that there was a close relationship between the location of the cemetery and palaeo environmental conditions, especially the relief, bodies of water (lakes, rivers and streams), and the plant cover. Of particular importance were elevated isthmuses between two lakes. The specific habitat conditions of these areas conditioned the specific and diverse plant cover. All of these elements of the natural palaeolandscape made the sacred place clearly visible in the settlement area. Case studies of the cemetery in the village of Paprotki kolonia (northeast Poland) showed that the layout of the cemetery lasted long, and was clearly visible to the local community in the first centuries AD. It enabled the precise location of the next cremations, horse sacrifices and other ritual activities in the area of the cemetery.
One peculiarity of the Suwalska Group of Sudovian culture is the very large number of barrows with destroyed inhumation graves. Since the 1950s, this fact has been interpreted as the result of the robbery of grave goods, which took place in late Antiquity. Common features in the ‘robbed graves’ observed in cemeteries at Osowa site I, and the villages of Szwajcaria and Żywa Woda, were: 1) the concavity of the top of the barrow and the lack of stones in the stone lining on the barrow surface; 2) traces of the ‘robbery trench’; 3) the multilayer stone pavement (concentration) over the skeleton grave; 4) the complete or partial lack of human bones in the grave, especially the lack of a skull and bones of the post-cranial skeleton, with the exception of the legs; and 5) traces of fire in the grave pits and on the stone pavements. These features and the almost complete lack of human bones in the stratified layers of the barrows, formed as a result of ‘robbery’, lead us to the conclusion that they were material traces of ritual practices connected with opening the barrows and relocating human bones and grave goods from inhumations. The basis of these activities was probably the principle of the proper burial of the dead. The real moment of death was not the end of the vital functions, but the complete decomposition of the body. After that, the re-deposition and secondary burial of bones took place.
Items with the ox-head are a very interesting archaeological phenomenon in the Baltic Sea area in the Roman Period. The earliest category of these finds is drinking horn fittings, which appeared in the Early Roman Period on Jutland and the Danish islands. At the beginning of the Late Roman Period, in the territory of the West Balts in Masuria, brooches with the ox-head occurred. According to the scientific tradition, they are interpreted as the effect of influences from the western zone of the shore of the Baltic Sea. Nowadays, when new finds of items with the ox-head (drinking horn fittings, brooches) are found in Przeworsk culture, it is necessary to analyse this thesis again.
The authors discuss archaeological data regarding cultural interactions between west Lithuanian areas and the regions of Masuria and Suwałki during the Roman and Migration Periods. Several categories of finds in west Lithuania can be seen as direct imports or the import of ideas from the West Balt area in Masuria. This communication worked in both directions. influences from coastal Lithuania may also be detected in the style of jewellery or riding gear. undoubtedly, the warrior elite played an important role in keeping these connections alive. The west Lithuanian area, like Samland, was a trading centre, working as an intermediary in the dissemination of interregional novelties.