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.
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.
Volume 18 (2012): People at the Crossroads of Space and Time (Footmarks of Societies in Ancient Europe) II, pp. 126–146
Charred microscopic plant remains, other than charcoal, uncovered in the contents of grave pits, provide information on the use of plants as grave goods and other aspects of the burial rite, as well as on the taxonomic composition of the plant cover of the cemetery and the landscape around it. This paper presents the results of an analysis and interpretation of such eco-facts from the Bogaczewo culture cemetery at Paprotki Kolonia site 1 in the Masurian Great Lakes District. All of the charred plant remains came from the contents of 87 grave pits with pyre remains and contents of urns, dated, in general, to the early Roman Period and phase C1. Thirty-six taxons of different kinds were represented among them, including cereals and wild plants of different habitats. An analysis of the age, sex, number of individuals and social status of the deceased, defined on the basis of the grave goods and the use of plants in the burial rite, showed no pattern. The only probable rule seems to be the fact of the domination of wheat among the cereals uncovered in grave pits. The interpretation of the function of plants put intentionally on the pyre in the burial rite showed that their use was connected with universal and complicated symbols of cereals and plant food. Wild plants might have been used in the rite for their medicinal or magic properties. Some plants discovered in the contents of grave pits might also have overgrown the sites of the pyres and their close vicinity. Their taxonomic set shows that at the time of the use of the cemetery at the Paprotki Kolonia site 1, its surface was deforested and overgrown with herbal plants.
Volume 11 (2009): The Horse and Man in European Antiquity (Worldview, Burial Rites, and Military and Everyday Life), pp. 56–88
The paper presents the problem of archaeological, archaeozoological and anthropological interpretations of horse burials from the Roman Period cemeteries from the Bogaczewo Culture (Masurian Lakeland) territory. It is presented on the basis of the multidisciplinary research of the cemetery in Paprotki Kolonia located in the heart of Bogaczewo Culture territory.