This article is devoted to an analysis of burials with weaponry from the Ostriv graveyard near the River Ros’, about 100 kilometres to the south of Kyiv in the Middle Dnieper area, excavated during 2017 and 2018. Weapons (axes, pila, sword pommels) were discovered in 11 burials, representing approximately 20% of the total number of burials, and about 60% of all male burials investigated in the graveyard. An analysis of the material from the graveyard (weapons and jewellery) refers burials to West Balt migrants: Old Prussians, Curonians and Skalvians. They probably protected hill-forts of Kyivan Rus’ in the Ros’ region. The archaeological finds were supported by historical sources: chronicles of Kyivan Rusʼ. They evidence about the activities of Yaroslav the Wise aimed at reinforcing the southern borders of Kyivan Rus’. But it is hard to say exactly when Yaroslav relocated West Balts to the region of the River Ros’. Nevertheless, according to written sources and archaeological material, it could be dated from 1030 to the middle of the 11th century.
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.
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 19 (2013): Societies of the Past: Approaches to Landscape, Burial Customs and Grave Goods, pp. 119–130
The author presents some of his recent results and observations made within the framework of a research project devoted to a comparative typo-chronological analysis of Migration Period knives-daggers in the basin of the Baltic Sea, and to the study of socio-historical tendencies and events marked by the appearance of these artefacts. The intensification of field research in the region in recent years, as well as the rediscovery of parts of the former Prussia-Museum’s collection and regained access to the archives of prewar researchers, has allowed the author to back up the study with an unprecedentedly high number of knife-dagger finds and relevant burial complexes.