Painted Lusatian Culture Pottery from a Cemetery at Biernatki, distr. Poznań, from the Aleksander Guttman Collection
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Publication date: 2007-12-31
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2007;LIX(59):17-30
The urnfield at Biernatki, site 1, distr. Poznań (former distr. Śrem), woj. wielkopolskie, is one of the more outstanding funerary sites of Lusatian Culture people in Wielkopolska (Great Poland). In use starting from late Bronze Age to Hallstatt D, it is thought to have formed a single settlement unit with a large settlement found at Kórnik-Bnin, site 2a-b, on a peninsula of Lake Bnińskie (Fig. 1). The cemetery, discovered in the latter half of the 19th c., was at first explored by amateur investigators who removed the best preserved pieces, most of which subsequently passed into a number of private collections. Professional excavation of site 1 at Biernatki was carried out only in 1932, followed by further investigation in 1961–1962 and 1966 (L. Krzyżaniak 1963; A. Kočkówna, A. Pałubicka, A. Prinke 1968). The collection of Aleksander Guttman was formed presumably in late 19th c. In 1919 the set was presented by colonel Tadeusz Jaworski to the National Museum in Warsaw and ultimately passed into keeping of the National Archaeological Museum in Warsaw in 1987. The collection comprises finds from two ‘Lusatian’ gravefields at Chojno-Golejewko, distr. Rawicz (A. Drzewicz 2005), and from Biernatki. Items from Biernatki include three bronze pins, stone axe fragment and 35 diverse ceramics, including the following four painted vessels: • Profiled short-necked bowl with horizontal fluting on the body (Fig. 2a, 3, 4). Flutes containing a red-painted design of rectangles and diagonal lines. Inner and outer surface light brown. H. 3.7 cm, rim diameter 11.2 cm, base diameter 4.7 cm, • Lid with a lip, presumably from a cylindrical vessel (Fig. 2b, 5a.b). On upper face, red-painted design of a circle, on the lip, two groups of short vertical lines, also in red. Inner and outer surface light brown. H. 1.7 cm, full diameter 8.4 cm, diameter of lip 7.7 cm, • Fragment of a small profiled bowl, originally presumably one of three small bowls joined at the body (Fig. 2c, 6). On the body of the bowl, two plug-holes and traces of the two other small bowls. On the neck, faint black-painted design of a group of seven vertical lines. Inner and outer surface light brown. H. 31 cm, rim diameter 6.1 cm, base diameter 2 cm, holes: 0.4×0.5 cm and 0.5×0.6 cm, • ‘Handled cup (small bowl) red-painted ornament of short lines (handle missing). H. 36 cm, W. 9.4 cm, D. 9.9 cm’ (lost during WW II; description basing on archival information). Painted Lusatian Culture pottery is known in Poland mainly from Hallstatt C and – possibly – early Hallstatt D. Its main centre of production was in Middle Silesia, with a smaller centre in Wielkopolska, to the north. Elements of Hallstatt style from the ‘south’ were modified locally and enriched by elements taken from the local pottery making giving rise to wares, which presumably were produced in specialist pottery workshops, visibly different from contemporary vessels known in Hallstatt Culture and other forms of Lusatian Culture ceramics. Painted Lusatian Culture wares of interest recorded in Poland are distinguished by a rich range of forms and ornamentation. One of the best represented forms are bowls ornamented on the body with horizontal fluting filled by a painted ornament of groups of short lines. The form, noted both in Silesia and in Wielkopolska, was probably produced locally. The bowl from Biernatki evidently belongs to this group of wares. Another, quite exceptional form of painted vessel, known only from funerary finds – cylindrical or rectangular container with lids – is represented in Poland by just five finds. The lid with a lip from Biernatki may have belonged to one of such vessels. A lid, identical in form and ornamentation and similar in dimensions, is known from Brzeg Dolny, distr. Wołów, in Silesia (Fig. 7). The two pieces could have been produced by one potter, as may have been the other painted vessels of the same type, given that all were discovered in SW area of the present-day district Wołów. Yet another, equally rare form of painted pottery, also recorded only in funerary sites, are ‘triplet’ vessels. Represented in Poland by just five complete and two seriously fragmented pieces all are similar in form: three small short-necked bowls, usually joined at the body, with a clay plug used for reinforcement. In its form, the small ‘triplet’ vessel bowl fragment from Biernatki fits the above description. Most ‘triplet’ vessels were discovered in Middle Silesia and SW Wielkopolska suggesting that their centre or centres of production could have been located in this region. As noted earlier, painted pottery vessels were produced in Lusatian Culture mainly during Hallstatt C; the ceramics from Biernatki probably belong to the same period. Technology of production of the vessels from Biernatki was studied by making an analysis of physical and chemical properties of samples taken from these finds (Fig. 2d). Microscope analysis of their fabric revealed little or no variation in mineralogical composition, indicating that all the vessels were produced from the same type of clay matrix containing a small percentage of iron compounds. Mineral elements (10–30%) included mainly, fine-grained crushed quartz, with some admixture of quartz sands and traces of potassium aluminium silicate (microcline), zircon, tourmaline and muscovite (Fig. 8–10, Table 1). Grain size range was 0.02–0.5 mm, with the majority of grains at 0.1–0.2 mm. Difractometric X-ray analysis did not reveal the presence of minerals other than those already mentioned. Lacking engobe, the vessels from Biernatki had been coated with only a solution of water and the same ceramic paste which was used in their production. Derivative-graphic analysis of samples indicates that the vessels were all fired in a similar temperature of 540–555ºC (Table 2), in oxidising conditions. Weight loss of the ceramic paste due to firing was at 11.04–11.75%. The similarity of firing temperatures, weight loss percentages and the nearly identical hue of the vessels indicate use of similar ceramic paste and firing conditions. Technological analysis of the vessels from Biernatki was supplemented by a study of their physical properties and performance attributes (Table 3). It was discovered that the level of consolidation of the ceramic matrix of the clay body, defined by the level of real and apparent density, total porosity and impermeability, indicated the high quality of the ceramic paste used. It is notable that identical values were obtained for the ‘triplet’ bowl and the lid, which also showed very similar firing temperatures. Low water absorbability of 7.69–10.87%, obtained despite low firing temperatures, is a further proof of high skill and technological proficiency of the potters. Analysis of the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age vessels from the A. Guttman collection has improved our understanding of Lusatian Culture painted pottery, particularly such specific forms as eg ‘triplet’ vessels and cylindric containers with lids.
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