Materials from Settlement at Transbór, comm. Latowicz, woj. Mazowieckie
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie, ul. Długa 52, 00-241 Warszawa
Publication date: 2007-12-31
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2007;LIX(59):115–164
Unlike materials from the Cloche Grave Culture cemetery at Transbór, distr. Mińsk Maz. (Fig. 1), published over fifty years ago (A. Kietlińska 1955; 1968; A. Kietlińska, R. Mikłaszewska 1963), archaeological findings associated with settlement were never analysed comprehensively. Nevertheless random and contradictory information about this material somehow entered circulation giving rise to a controversy over the chronological and culture attribution of the settlement (Express 1947; 1948; M. Gądzikiewicz 1954, p. 164; M. Gądzikiewicz-Woźniak 1961, p. 105; A. Kietlińska, R. Mikłaszewska 1963, p. 255; S. Czopek 1992, p. 181; 1995, p. 275; Dyskusja 1995, p. 389; M. Andrzejowska 1988, p. 135; 2001, p. 199). Fragments of Lusatian pottery vessels with openings below the rim, grave assemblage no. 12, deposited in a cloche (A. Kietlińska, R. Mikłaszewska 1963, p. 258, tabl. III:7.8.14–17; in the present article described with materials from section I/3), known from the monograph of the cemetery were recognised by T. Dąbrowska (1977, p. 118, diagram 1 – phase A) as proof of direct continuity of ‘Lusatian’ traditions in Cloche Grave Culture. The need to rectify the existing inconsistencies prompted the author to examine the archaeological material and documentation at hand, the latter consisting of site reports (which contain only laconic descriptions of archaeological features), site drawings, no longer complete (cf footnote 6), twenty or so amateur black-and-white photographs, and a hand-written card index covering a part of the settlement materials developed in 1961 by R. Mikłaszewska (R.M.). The archaeology at Transbór first became known to Warsaw archaeologists in the 1920s when the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw received a number of Cloche Grave Culture vessel finds from this location. Regular excavation led by A. Kietlińska was undertaken only in 1946–1948. The area was excavated using a grid of 20×20 m units (Fig. 2). Grid squares I–XII were explored in 2 m wide strips (1–10). Grid square XIII was the only unit which comprised two such strips. Fieldwork was carried out mostly in double, less often, in single strips (Fig. 4). The site lay on the slope of a high dune rising above the flood terrace of the right bank of river Świder (Fig. 1; A. Kietlińska, R. Mikłaszewska 1963, p. 255, fig. 1). Despite the sandy and dry substrate stratigraphy was still legible, at least in places. The ancient summit of the dune extended from grid square IV/6 to the middle section of grid square VIII/9–10. A layer of grey or ash-coloured sand which contained most of the cloche burials was detected in grid square IV just below the arable; moving north it gradually descended to the depth of ‘more than two spades’ (Fig. 5). Deeper down, at the N margin of the trench, was found a dark grey layer, which probably yielded most of the Trzciniec Culture potsherds (Fig. 31:VIII/4–6a–d). An equally puzzling stratigraphic sequence was observed in grid square VII (Fig. 36). Here a sequence of two layers is recorded, associated with the horizon of the cemetery. Assuming that the lower layer, which contained graves 47 and 48, is the same as the dark grey sand in grid square VIII, it can be associated with occupation by Trzciniec Culture folk, and consequently, also with Lusatian occupation. A flimsy dark brown level cutting into the roof layer of grave 48 which presumably represented the final horizon of the cemetery was detected also in the southern part of the profile in grid square VIII (Fig. 5). In the entire investigated area the settlement layer containing charcoal and daub postdating the cemetery horizon rested directly beneath the humus. This made identification of features quite difficult, especially in the eastern area of the site. The main ‘cemetery’ layer of grey sand was also present everywhere. However, it is not clear whether the more ancient dark grey layer occurred elsewhere than within squares VII and VIII. Archaeologists identified 33 features associated with settlement (Fig. 3). Ten of them evidently are from a period predating the cemetery: hearths (no. 8, 22; possibly, also no. 27 – a hearth evidently earlier than grave 99), a pit oven (no. 9), posthole (no. 12), pits (no. 4, 5, 10, 13, 14; no. 10 apparently was a depression in the unbroken culture layer), and remains of structures (no. 15). Features 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15, contained Lusatian Culture pottery. The building remains, unique for the area of the eastern offshoot of Lusatian Culture, included a frame building on a plan of a trapeze, a surface area of ca. 15 m2; it had an entrance in the shorter western wall and a triangular annex or outbuilding of ca. 7 m2 which contained a raised dome oven (feature 15-5). The remains of a light roofing structure extending from the entrance to the hut to feature 14 detected north of the annex/outbuilding originally had been supported by small stakes. This suggests that feature 14 – storage pit (?) with a quern and rubber, may also be associated with the dwelling. Lumps of daub with impressed straw, reed and pegs show that walls could have been insulated on the outside with wattle. The oven, presumably used for cooking and heating, had the form of a clay dome set over a floor of packed clay. It was fed and cleaned through an opening giving onto the interior of the hut, under the roofing, where an oven pit of triangular section was discovered. Another possible ‘Lusatian’ hut occurred in grid square VIII/7–10 (feature 3). Evidence of occupation postdating the cemetery horizon includes stone hearths (no. 1, 2, 16, 26, 28, 32, 33) and burnt remains of frame buildings (no. 20, 21, 29, 30, and most probably, no. 7); inside the buildings there was a 1×1 m square outline set against the wall. Feature 20 (a unipartite structure with an inner area of ca. 25 m2) and a bipartite building identified in its neighbourhood, with an area of ca. 30 m2, and a northern chamber of ca. 16.5 m2, both had walls plastered with clay. Also similar was a bipartite (possibly tripartite) building with individual spaces of ca. 17 m2 in area which had a common longer wall. Feature 30 evidently postdates feature 29, which consists of at least two rectangular chambers. A room with a square-shaped stone hearth had an area of ca. 14 m2. The L-shaped cross-section of the wall of one building (no. 21) suggests the existence of a foundation. All the discussed structures find only some degree of correspondence in the building tradition known in Przeworsk Culture of the Late Pre-Roman and Early Roman Period, and Wielbark Culture of the Late Roman Period (cf K. Przewoźna 1971, p. 181–188; K. Godłowski 1981, p. 105; J. Pyrgała 1981, p. 383–385; I. Jadczykowa 1983, p. 190, 192, 194–195, 199 ff., 214). Their plan evidently different than that of prehistoric dwelling structures published to date and the outline was not the typical quadrangular shape. There is a strong suspicion that the structures at Transbór actually date from the early modern period and are the remains of village buildings common in Poland with a narrow front and an open square-shaped hearth set by the wall or a chimney in a corner (cf K. Moszyński 1967, p. 529, 530–531, 560 ff., fig. 469, 470, 478:1.2, 479). Also the structure containing a square-shaped hearth paved with small pebbles (no. 29) evidently older than other buildings probably dates from same age. Several features did not produce any finds of diagnostic value for chronological and culture attribution, they were ‘concentrations’ of stones and/or pottery (no. 19, 23, 24, 25, 31), post-holes (no. 6, 17) and possible pit (no. 11). Similarly problematic was a deteriorated stone hearth which contained assorted pottery (no. 18). None of the described features could be linked to Trzciniec Culture settlement, which probably concentrated in the NW part of the site outside the area covered by excavation (over a half of Trzciniec pottery fragments occurred in the northern part of grid square VIII/4–6). Vessels forms were mostly S-profiled pots (Fig. 23:18a.21c, 31:VIII/4–6a.b.d, 33m, and lacking context), exceptionally, one pot had a nearly cylindrical neck (Fig. 30:IV/9d), and a bowl (Fig. 31:VIII/4–6c). A sherd with two cordons recovered in grid square VIII/4–6 belonged to either a pot or a bowl. Apart from skilfully facetted rims in two vessels (Fig. 31:VIII/4–6b.d) Trzciniec ceramics from Transbór find numerous analogies in pottery finds from Mazowsze, Podlasie and Lublin region. Careful execution and elaborate ornamentation place them in the ‘classical’ phase of Trzciniec Culture, dated broadly to period II of the Bronze Age. Only the SE area of the area excavated at Transbór was free of Lusatian Culture finds. Some pottery fragments were attributed only tentatively to either Lusatian or to Cloche Grave Culture The predominant form were vessels with a roughened surface; they were represented by the following categories: pouch-like pots with various rim forms (Fig. 8:10a, 14:14h, 22:15-2/4a.b.i.l, 29:I/3d.f, 30:IV/7–8d.IV/9c.f.IV/10b, 31:V/5–6a.V/7a, 32:IX/9–10b, 33c, 34d), egg-shaped pots (Fig. 8:9a, 14:14i.k, 21:15--6e.f, 22:15-2/4k, 23:21b, 29:I/2b.c, 33a, 34b), S-profiled pots with gentle profiling and variously outsloping rim section or only the rim (Fig. 8:9d, 14:14a.j, 21:15-5d.15-6h, 22:15-2/4d.p, 29:I/2a, 30:IV/9a) and a curve below the rim (Fig. 8:8a, 18:15-2b). A large group were bowls, mostly hemispherical (Fig. 21:15-6a, 22:15-2/4h.j, 23:21d.I/1b.d, 29:I/3e.III/5a, 30:IV/7–8c.e.f, 31:VII/9–10c, 33f) or conical (Fig. 21:15-5b, 32a, 34i), more rarely, with a small or a more prominent curve below the rim (Fig. 14:14e.g, 21:15-6d, 22:15-2/4f, 23:I/1e, 33j, 34h), or an inward sloping rim section (Fig. 18:15-1a.15-4b, 21:15-6j, 30:IV/7–8g.h.IV/9b, 32:IX/9–10a, 33h), exceptionally, with S-shaped in profile (Fig. 18:15-4a). Other forms included vase-like vessels (Fig. 8:9c, 14:14d, 18:15-1c.d, 21:15-6b, 22:15-2/4c.r, 33b.o, 34f.g), forms with a neck set apart from the lower body by an indentation (Fig. 18:15-1b, 22:15-2/4s, 31:V/1–2a, 33n), cups (Fig. 14:14f, 33l) and strainer-like vessels (Fig. 8:9b, 22:15-2/4e). One vessel was a nearly biconical form (Fig. 34c). Twenty flat dishes (‘plates’) reconstructed from sherds ranged in diameter from 17 to 25 cm (Fig. 14:14b, 18:15-3a–c, 19, 22:15-2/4g, 23:I/1f, 29:I/3b, 30:IV/7–8i, 31:V/1–2b.V/7b, 32b, 34e.k). Most of these ceramic forms find numerous parallels in the material from Late Bronze Age and Hallstatt sites of Lusatian Culture in east Mazowsze and Podlasie. Ornamentation, both in terms of patterns selected and their frequency on vessels from Transbór resembles ornamentation of Hallstatt pottery from the region. The most popular motif are openings under the rim, more seldom, finger or fingernail impressions, less commonly, plastic ornament (applied bosses and cordons), and shallow engraved designs (at the base of the neck – horizontal and diagonal lines, on the body – groups of diagonal and ‘herringbone’). In some vessels the rim was decorated by kneading. Two vessels from Transbór (Fig. 14:14a, 18:15-4a) have no counterpart in the material from the Eastern Mazowsze-Podlasie group of Lusatian Culture They related more closely to forms known from inventories of Silesian group of the same culture. Although the vessel form is not recorded in the region which separates Silesia and south Wielkopolska from east Mazowsze this direction of influence is apparently correct. What is more, during the late Hallstatt period some vessel forms penetrated from the Silesian group to Mazowsze, into inventories of Lusatian-Pomeranian graves (M. Andrzejowska 2005, p. 134). Presumably, it is no accident that a pot of a western provenance occurred in a cloche grave at Stodzew, distr. Garwolin, site 3 (M. Andrzejowska 2003, p. 138, 140–141, fig. 11d–f), across the river Świder from Transbór. Another exceptional form was a flat dish with a kneaded rim with five central indentations on the underside, and on its upper face, an impressed design of plaitwork (Fig. 19) apparently from two bands of fibre of equal width woven cross-wise at right angles. Plates with impressions of similar and other kinds of plaitwork were quite popular in some settlements of the Tarnobrzeg Group of Lusatian Culture (K. Moskwa 1976, p. 82–83, 312, 317, fig. 74l, 77k–m). Indentations on the underside of the same dish probably had no functional purpose. Similar indentations, but in four concentric rows, appear on the underside of a plate dated to Hallstatt discovered in Podlasie (J. Dąbrowski 1961, p. 24, pl. I:1). The settlement of Lusatian Culture at Transbór possibly dates back to late Bronze Age. Some vessels (Fig. 14:14a.j, 32:V/7a) and a spindle- -whorl (Fig. 32:VIII/8a) are closer to forms from the end of the Bronze Age than from Hallstatt. However, some vessels are definitely Hallstatt forms: vase-like vessels with openings under the rim (Fig. 8:9c, 33o) or similar forms with an ornament of applied bosses (Fig. 18:15-1c.d), an S-shaped vessel with horizontal smoothing in its upper section (Fig. 21:15-5d), pots and bowls with a curve below the rim (Fig. 8:8a, 14:14e.g, 18:15-2b, 23:I/1e) and an S-profiled bowl (Fig. 18:15-4a). The ornamented vessel with a neck separated from the rest of the body by an indentation (Fig. 31:V/1–2a), and bowls with an inward sloping rim section (eg, fig. 18:15-1a.15-4b) are attributable to Ha D. The hut with an oven (no. 15) was definitely in use during Hallstatt. A similar dating may be given to the hearth (no. 8) and the pit oven (no. 9). More problematic is the dating of feature 14 which produced assorted ceramics datable to BA V through to early Iron Age. It is possible that the sherds could have been displaced and redeposited within the loose substrate but the quern and rubber also discovered in the same feature presumably rested in their original position. That the Iron Age settlement did not continue until the end of Hallstatt D is indicated by several Cloche Grave burials at Transbór attributable to the earliest phase of Mazowsze-Podlasie cemeteries of Cloche Grave Culture, dated to HaD (M. Andrzejowska 1995, p. 132 ff.). The cemetery was established after the decline of the settlement; the fact that the burials did not disturb feature 15 (= hut with oven) suggests that its remains continued to be visible. At the same time, the second possible Lusatian Culture dwelling (no. 3) was cut by grave 66. Imaginably, the settlement was abandoned when groups of outsiders started coming to the area. Occupation later than the Cloche Grave Culture cemetery horizon is evidenced by finds recovered in the entire area of investigation; they were a chronologically mixed assortment of objects attributed to Przeworsk and Wielbark Cultures. Four fragments of Przeworsk Culture pottery belonged either in the Late Pre-Roman (Fig. 23:20a, 30:IV/10c, 31:V/7–8a) or the Early Roman Period (grave 12 in grid square I/3). Another form distinctive for Przeworsk Culture material was an iron scabbard clasp (Fig. 35d). Wielbark finds included a large quantity of sherds belonging to group I pots (Fig. 23:21f, 29:II/1a and fragment from grave 12, section I/3), a group XaA bowl (Fig. 32:X/7–8a), a sherd decorated with zigzag (from feature 21), and others items (Fig. 31:V/5–6c and fragment from feature 14). Finds considered as diagnostic for Wielbark Culture included springs from two brooches (Fig. 35a.b) and a melted glass bead. The Wielbark material is datable very generally to phase B2/C1 through to phase D of the Roman period (cf M. Tempelmann-Mączyńska 1985, p. 48 ff., pl. 4:202, 44, table 8; R. Wołągiewicz 1993, p. 12 ff.). Przeworsk and Wielbark pottery could not be associated conclusively with any feature dated to after the decline of the cemetery. This is an additional argument proving that the burnt dwellings (no. 20, 21, 29, 30) date from the early modern period. A fragment of a base from a turned vessel (Fig. 31:VII/9–10b) was dated to the Late Roman or the Early Migration Period. The entire investigated area produced a modest number of small fragments of modern wheel-made vessels; the lower part of feature 20 contained a small fragment of an oven tile. Owing to intensive occupation of the site after the decline of the cemetery many graves were lost or suffered serious damage; the original stratigraphy was disturbed and archaeological material became redeposited. This lends weight to the view that Lusatian Culture sherds discovered inside an inverted cloche vessel in grave 12 do not belong to the assemblage. This is supported by the fact that the same vessel also contained two sherds from Roman Period ceramics. Many questions relating to the sequence of occupation episodes at Transbór remain unanswered. The incomplete but quite striking archaeological material from this site proves that there is a need to continue investigating settlement sites, still relatively a terra incognita.
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