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Jastorf Culture in the Polish Lowland. Its Approximate Chronology, Range and Connections
 
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Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2015;LXVI(66):127–181
 
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The Early/Late Pre-Roman Period transition was a time of a profound cultural change in the Odra and Vistula drainages, on the north-eastern periphery of the Celtic world. Its result was the decline of the “post-Hallstatt” Pomeranian-Cloche Grave Culture previously spread across much of Poland, now replaced by two formations deeply influenced by the La Tène Culture – the Przeworsk and the Oksywie cultures. The view dominant in the literature is that these two are a direct continuation of the “post-Hallstatt” cultures. According to currently accepted views the main cause of this major cultural transformation was impact from the La Tène Culture which triggered significant changes in the spiritual and the material culture, and in the economic systems of the “Pomeranian-Cloche Grave” communities. Only recently the role of the Jastorf Culture in this process has come to be recognized as vital. The number of Jastorf sites recorded across the Polish Lowland, far east of the lands on the lower and the middle Odra settled by the communities of the peripheral Gubin Group and the Oder Group of the Jastorf Culture. A special contribution to the recognition of Jastorf Culture materials and charting the current line of research on the archaeological situation at the onset of the Late Pre-Roman Period in Poland was made by the research of T. Dąbrowska and Z. Woźniak. Relics of Jastorf settlement are scattered mostly in areas of Wielkopolska, Kujawy, western Mazowsze and the Lublin region. Some rare finds have been recorded in Lower Silesia outside the range of the Gubin Group of Jastorf Culture. Others are known from the northern reaches of the Lowland, the cradle of the Oksywie Culture, and from the West Balt Barrow Culture (Fig. 1, 2). Jastorf settlement does not form any more obvious concentrations, this may partly reflect the status of research, i.a., the general failure to identify settlements of this culture. This is because in many cases we have to rely only on the sparse and poorly diagnostic surface finds. Jastorf Culture materials recorded in the Lowland, is mostly pottery, dated by analogy to other zones of Jastorf Culture settlement (Fig.3). Pottery assemblages of this culture from the Lowland (Fig. 4–10) are obviously in correspondence with materials recorded in Denmark – in Jutland and Funen, dated mostly to between phase Ib and IIIa acc. to C.-J. Becker, and to phases I and II acc. to E. Albrectsen, which corresponds to phases IB and IIA in the modified division of J. Martens. They are similar to some extant also to finds originating from the parent territory of the Jastorf Culture in the middle and the lower Elbe drainage linked with the Ripdorf phase acc. to G. Schwantes, or phases Id and IIa acc. to H. Hingst. On the other hand, there are no recognizable connections of this pottery with the wares of the Gubin Group and the Oder Group. Jastorf Culture pottery connects also with forms which are present in the earliest pottery assemblages of the Przeworsk and the Poieneşti-Lukaševka cultures, dating to phases A1–A2 of the Late Pre-Roman Period. Some of the objects recovered in the Lowland in settlements and in burials with Jastorf pottery can be dated with some precision. They are e.g., northern Jastorf pins from the Early/Late Pre-Roman Period transition and Celtic imports, mostly brooches characteristic for phase LTC1 (Fig. 12). The latter are noted in assemblages with pottery resembling the younger Danish materials from Becker phase IIIa, or Martens phase IIA (Fig. 13). The presence of this pottery has been confirmed also in Celtic settlements in Upper Silesia occupied during the Middle La Tène, mostly during its earlier segment, i.e., LTC1 (Fig. 11). A small group of metal objects of northern Jastorf origin recovered as stray finds or excavated from Jastorf sites in the Lowland has been dated to the close of the Early and the onset of the Late Pre-Roman Period. They include: winged pins of the Danish type, typologically late Holstein pins of Skovby/Bjerndrup type, early and later forms of crown neck-rings (Kronenhalsring) and cast bronze brooches characteristic for the Danish-northern German region (Fig. 14). It follows from the above remarks that the dating of Jastorf finds recorded in the Lowland is based largely on the analysis of the pottery, the most plentiful here, which is compared against the materials from Jutland, and in part, also from the northern Elbe region. Primarily on this evidence, but making use also of the chronologically diagnostic forms recorded in association with this pottery – the rare objects of a Celtic provenance and some of the Jastorf ornaments – we can attempt to separate the older and the younger materials. The older forms, datable to the close of the Early Pre-Roman Period, would include two- and tripartite vases, wide-mouthed mugs and cups which have correspondence with forms known from Jutland, assigned to Becker phases Ib and II. Their characteristic feature is a thickened and strongly folded out rim. Sometimes there may be a strap handle and a zone of an archaic, finely engraved geometric decoration. These forms are resembled also by large bowls with a wide, strongly folded out, nearly vertical rim, storage vessels with several lugs, or with a cordon set in the upper portion of the body, and jars which have a tall neck separated from the broad lower body by a distinct set off, decorated with deeply engraved designs, like in the “post-Hallstatt” inventories (Fig. 4:1.3.5, 5:7, 7:5, 10:4). So far no early Jastorf materials have been recorded in sites found in the eastern part of the Lowland. A much larger group, noted also in the region to the east of the Vistula, are pottery finds recognized as having a chronologically later position, dated to the onset of the Later Pre-Roman Period. These vessels have internally facetted rims and handles constricted in their middle section. This younger pottery includes “tableware” – neckless vases, mugs and large bowls with a folded out rim, but also, slender basin-like forms with a well defined neck reminiscent of the inversely pyriform vessels. On some of these wares, mostly vases, there is a zone of a finely engraved geometric decoration, sometimes filled with a pricked decoration, a feature which is encountered also on the younger pottery from Jutland. The much smaller group of “kitchenware” includes jars with a facetted rim and two constricted handles, and jar-like storage vessels with finger-impressed cordon near the rim (Fig. 5:6.8, 7:1, 11:6, 13:2.4.7.8). The legitimacy of the division of the Jastorf pottery from the Lowland into older and younger forms based on analogies from the northern Jastorf zone would be validated by metal finds found in the same context which are dated according to the system of chronological divisions developed for the La Tène Culture. The association of younger Jastorf Culture vessels with brooches corresponding to Celtic brooches from phase LTC1 should be stressed in this context. Of high importance is also presence of similar pottery in Celtic settlements in Upper Silesia, occupied mainly during LTC. The younger Jastorf pottery has parallels in materials of the Przeworsk and the Poieneşti-Lukaševka cultures. However, any dating made on this basis is imprecise because it covers a period which corresponds to phases A1 and A2. The absolute chronology of the Jastorf materials from the Lowland can be determined only through synchronization with the current system of dating the La Tène Culture. It has been concluded on this basis that the older Jastorf finds from the close of the Early Pre-Roman Period, ie, approximately from phase LTB2, may date to the late 4th century or the first half of the 3rd century BC. The much more abundant younger materials, dated to the onset of the Late Pre-Roman Period – phase A1, and presumably present also in phase A2, are likely to belong mostly in phase LTC1, i.e., the first half of the 3rd century and the first decades of the 2nd century BC. The latest possible dating for Jastorf finds come from around half of the 1st century BC. During the Pre-Roman Period there is a development in the Polish Lowland of four large culture units – the “post-Hallstatt” Pomeranian- Cloche Grave Culture, the even more archaic West Balt Barrow Culture, the Latenized Przeworsk Culture, and the Oksywie Culture related to it. There is no evidence for any connection between the Pomeranian-Cloche Grave and the Jastorf cultures. On the other hand, there is an evident similarity of the pottery, built structures and features of the burial rite shared by the Jastorf and the early Przeworsk cultures. More than once, the materials of these two units have surfaced in the same settlement and grave context. On the evidence of more precisely dated grave assemblages from phase A1, which corresponds to phase LTC2, the emergence of the Przeworsk Culture belongs in a period which followed the decline of the Jastorf settlement. Nevertheless, the latter unit did have some influence on the formation of the Przeworsk Culture. Definitely less easy to assess is the relationship between the Jastorf settlement scattered sparsely across the northern Lowland and the Oksywie Culture and the West Balt Barrow Culture. The presence of Jastorf communities in the Lowland used to be linked with the migration of the Germanic Bastarnae, who supposedly moved through the Odra and the Vistula drainages in the 3rd century making for the south-eastern regions. The result of this migration to the present-day Romanian-Moldovan border would be the emergence of the Poieneşti-Lukaševka Culture. It does not appear likely, despite the similarity of the Jastorf and Poieneşti-Lukaševka inventories, that the Jastorf communities of from the Polish Lowland played a part in the emergence of the latter culture. It is more likely that the makers of the Poieneşti-Lukaševka came from the parent territory of the Jastorf Culture, this is suggested by the presence of many “Elbian” elements in the material culture. On the other hand, the communities of northern Jastorf origin settled in the Lowland, whose first representatives may have moved into this region still at the close of the 4th century BC, had some share in the process of the formation of the Przeworsk Culture. It cannot be ruled out that at least a part of this population were Vandals, which tribe is regarded as one of the makers of the Przeworsk Culture. Mostly on the evidence from linguistic and toponomastic studies the homeland of this people has been placed in Jutland, with an offshoot also traced in the southern region of Norway.
ISSN:0043-5082