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1,300 year old cemetery discovered in Poland

Archaeologists found richly equipped burials during excavations in Burdąg, Warmia and Mazury. One of them contained, among others, silver breastplate, carefully crafted belt elements, necklace of glass beads, silver fibulae.

1,300 year old cemetery discovered in Poland
One of the cremation graves with visible pieces of equipment [Credit: M. Sciapanava]
The discovery was reported to PAP by the project leader Dr. Mirosław Rudnicki from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Łódź.

"These finds here are quite a surprise. Excavations have changed the image of the site that, in the light of previous studies, was considered quite poor" - the archaeologist did not hide his surprise.

According to the researcher, rich burials belonged to the representatives of the local aristocracy. Particularly interesting was the woman’s grave that contained spectacular costume pieces, including silver fibulae from the Frankish Empire during the reign of the Merovingian dynasty, and a silver breastplate.

1,300 year old cemetery discovered in Poland
Archaeologists at work [Credit: U. Wilkoszewska]
This year, archaeologists have discovered more than 40 cremation graves. In many cases, the urns were very well preserved. Archaeologists have excavated the vessels intact with their contents, which will be removed in the laboratory. Therefore, we can expect more interesting objects, which are currently inside the urns.

The cemetery dates from the sixth - seventh century. In 2012, the first surveys were carried out, which confirmed the location of the site discovered and studied in late nineteenth century by the German archaeologist Georg Bujack of Koenigsberg.

"Ancestors of the Prussian Galinds tribe were buried here, known as Olsztyn group. Its appearance, growth and disappearance are among the most interesting phenomena in the ancient history of today's Polish land" - said Dr. Rudnicki . The researcher added that most materials attributed to the Olsztyn group were acquired by German archaeologists in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and then disappeared during World War II. Hence, the present work is crucial to its understanding.

1,300 year old cemetery discovered in Poland
Bronze fibula from one of the graves [Credit: M. Sciapanava]
Archaeologists pay attention to this community, because among the objects attributed to this group are objects evidencing strong relations in the sixth - seventh century with the Merovingian state, Byzantium, Scandinavia, Goths , Slavs and nomadic Avars. "Due to the fact that after all these are the frontiers of the late ancient world, the explanation of this phenomenon remains a mystery" - added the archaeologist.

International cooperation is an important part of the project. "I should mention a prominent contribution of the expedition from the Belarusian State University in Minsk to the study. Students of this school not only studied the methodology of research, but also had the opportunity to visit the Polish monuments and see our country" - concluded Dr. Rudnicki .

This year's work was performed in July and August. It was carried out jointly by the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Łódź in cooperation with the Belarusian State University in Minsk. The excavations are part of the project " Development of the border and Western Baltic - Slavic relations in the early Middle Ages", funded by the National Science Centre. 

Source: PAP [September 20, 2013]

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