2000-Year-Old Germanic Warrior Burials Unearthed In Poland
Archaeologists in Poland have discovered a 2,000-year-old burial site containing the remains of ancient Germanic warriors.
In an effort to protect the archaeological dig site located near Kostrzyn (just to the east of Poland’s modern-day border with Germany) from illegal treasure hunters, archaeologists from the Kostrzyn Fortress Museum have kept the precise location private. However, the team of researchers have disclosed details about the “interesting and surprising” nature of the ancient treasures and artifacts uncovered from the Germanic cemetery.
According to a report in IBTimes lead archaeologist Krzysztof Socha, from the Kostrzyn Museum, told the Polis Press Agency (PAP) that his team of archaeologists discovered “2,000-year-old cremation urns” and 12 burial pits also dating back to the first century BC. The artifacts found at the ancient burial site tell the archaeologists that it was used by local Germanic tribes for burying “warriors and women”.
Polish archaeologists discovered the burials using a metal detector. (Tempelburg Historical and Cultural Association and Kostrzyn Fortress Museum)
Imported Ritual Items
Mr Socha said what he found “particularly interesting” was that evidence has been gathered showing several types of funeral rituals were practiced at the site, evident in that some bodies had been buried in skeletal pits without cremation but others had been burned and their remains were found both interred in ceramic urns and directly in pits.
Keeping the contents of the urns in one piece so that the researchers could see ‘how’ the bones and items had been placed inside them, these ancient clay containers were X-rayed by a veterinarian from the town of Dębno. The scans revealed that one of the urns contained the cremated bones of an “ancient warrior” who had been ritually buried with a spearhead, fragments from a shield and metallic trinkets that are believed to have formed a dagger.
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The dig uncovered an urn containing burned bones and milk teeth of a child who was around 8-9 years old. (Tempelburg Historical and Cultural Association and Kostrzyn Fortress Museum)
The researchers also discovered that ancient Germanic warriors were most often buried with decorative spearheads and metallic brooches, and this year alone 100 treasure troves of metallic trinkets have been found buried alongside the dead, about which Mr Socha said: “can be compared to today’s safety pins.”. But he adds, many of the metallic trinkets were not made locally. And this is not the first time imported items have been found in the ancient Polish graves.
Ancient Burial Rituals of the Forgotten Germanic Warriors
According to Archaeology.com, in 2014, archaeologists discovered evidence of a “4,000-year-old ritual” on a hilltop in northeastern Poland where an amber bead and pieces from decorated cups and bowls made by the Bell Beaker culture were found amidst human remains. At that time archaeologist, Dariusz Manasterski, of the University of Warsaw, told Science & Scholarship in Poland that, as well as the aforementioned ritual items, the archaeologists found imported arrowheads, flint knives, an ‘adze’, a fragment of a curved blade and fragments of a dagger.
This site, according to Mr Manasterski, was an “exceptional find” in central Europe containing one of the richest collections of objects usually found in the elite graves in Western Europe from this period. How those deeply ancient artifacts managed to get so far east is currently being investigated, but to learn more about the nature of the 4,000-year-old Bronze Age rituals performed in Eastern Europe, see Wolf Rites of Winter.
Other finds at Kostrzyn include a necklace of glass beads from around 2,000 years ago, ceramic vessels and a bronze ring. (Tempelburg Historical and Cultural Association and Kostrzyn Fortress Museum)
115,000 Years of Human Presence
While these sites complete our picture of how early Germanic tribes lived and died, the undisputed king of archaeological sites in Poland is the Ciemna Cave, located in Ojców National Park, near Kraków, which has the largest chamber of all the caves mapped in the Krakow and Wielun Uplands.
And while the inner cave is a matrix of visually interesting stalagmites and small tubular stalactites, buried within the sediments in the immediate vicinity of the entrance, archaeologists found evidence of prehistoric people dating back about 115,000 years, and the cave was subsequently registered as an archaeological national monument in 1924.
To learn more about the Polish archaeological sites mentioned in this article you might read the scholarly journal Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean (PAM), which is a 30 year old open-access peer-reviewed journal written in English, presenting archaeological, geophysical, conservation & restoration fieldwork, as well as academic research papers from the Near East, Arabian Peninsula and the Caucasus, as well as northeastern and northern Africa.
Top image: Spearheads, helmets and other items found at the Germanic warriors burial site. Source: Tempelburg Historical and Cultural Association and Kostrzyn Fortress Museum
By Ashley Cowie