PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
Items in the grave, including cicada fibulae. Photo by Agata Wiśniewska
Dozens of cremation graves from before 1600 have been found by scientists from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw in Łężany, Warmia and Mazury. This is one of the few ancient cemeteries recently studied in Mrągowo Lake District.
"A large number of graves and the unique nature of many discoveries shed a new light on the cultural image of the region during the Roman and Migration times" - explained Agnieszka Jaremek of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.
The burial ground was discovered accidentally in autumn 2012 during forestry work. The first excavations started last year. The necropolis consists of flat, single graves. All the dead were cremated, and their ashes put directly in the ground directly in burrows or in earthen vessels - urns. Archaeologists have also located small clusters of human bones deposited in pure sand.
"Most of the graves we found contained ornaments, mainly metal clasps, bracelets, necklaces. Also preserved are parts of the outfit - buckles, rivets and fittings. In several burials the deceased were accompanied by miniature vessels" - said Jaremek.
Documentation work during excavation. Photo by Agata Wiśniewska
Many objects are made of bronze, others of iron or silver. A unique find, according to the archaeologists, is the discovery of four cicada fibulae in one grave. The objects were used to fasten garments, much like today’s buttons. At the same time, they were spectacular ornaments.
"So far from baltic cultural circle we had known only three of those unique ornaments coming from the Black Sea, resembling the shape of insects - cicadas" - explains the archaeologist .
Excavations in Łężany are part of a broader research project of Warsaw archaeologists. This research project is carried out since 2011 to comprehensively and systematically recognise and reconstruct cultural heritage of the micro-region of lakes Widryńskie and Legińskie. Research coordinator is Foundation Dajna. The expedition management consists of employees of the foundation, the Institute of Archaeology UW, University of Warmia and Mazury and Academic Diving Club Sea Horse. The field team consisting of dozens of people includes IA UW students and graduates and volunteers.
The project "Łężany - burial from the Roman and Migration period in Mrągowo Lake District", including the conservation of monuments and specialized analyses, received a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2014. This year's research in Łężanach will be carried out in July and August.