Unusual Early Medieval Combs from Pasym, Szczytno County
More details
Hide details
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2018;LXIX:51–65
Combs from the older phases of the Early Middle Ages are quite special finds. They are particular for their individual character, which makes them difficult to classify. During the excavation of the stronghold in Pasym, Szczytno County in NE Poland, several extremely interesting combs were discovered. The collection consists of five combs, one tooth-plate and a single tooth. Two are complete (one showed slight losses in the tooth-plate); one is almost complete (missing parts near the edges of the side-plates and the outermost tooth-plates); two more are preserved in small frag-ments. All specimens belong to group IB, which comprises one-sided, three-layered combs. They differ in the forms of their side-plates. One of the combs is classified as type III (Fig. 2:b), next one as type VII, variant 2, variation e (Fig. 2:a), another as type VII, variant 2, variation c (Fig. 2:c); the two remaining are only broadly categorized as type VII (Fig. 2:d.e) due to their fragmentary state of preservation. The combs and their fragments discovered in Pasym are an extremely valuable source, especially with regards to establishing the chronology. Following the analysis presented in the article, it was shown that these artefacts should be dated from the last decades of the 7th century AD to the beginning of the 9th century AD, although the middle part of this range is the most probable. Thus, they constitute important ev-idence of the occupation of the site in the 8th century. Numerous traces of bone and antler processing were discovered at the stronghold in Pasym; it seems that the inhabitants might have produced simpler tools on their own and for their own needs. However, no semi-products or waste left by comb manufacture were found, therefore, the existance of a local comb making workshop should be excluded. The vast majority of the early medieval combs were produced by specialized craftsmen. Considering the almost universal views on the nature of the early comb making, which was the domain of traveling artisans, it cannot be ruled out that Pasym was visited at certain times by such a specialist, who manufactured his products on site. It is highly probable that combs type III (variants 2 and 3) as well as type VII (variants 2, variations c and e) originated in the Frisian territory. The concept linking the provenance of specific specimens to these areas is attractive but unjustified. The combs from Pasym bear the greatest resemblance to the artefacts from some of the early Slavic sites from the Polish Lowlands (Żukowice, Kałdus, Miszewko Strzałkowskie and Wyszogród) and Janów Pomorski as well as to a single find from Tumiany. Taking into consideration the clear similarity of some exemplars (together with a small number of finds of particular variants), one can propose a rather bold hypothesis that some of them could have been the work of one traveling craftsman.