A Ring from a Pomeranian Culture Pectoral from Wola Pasikońska, Warsaw-West County – a Case of Some Prehistoric Recycling
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie ul. Długa 52 «Arsenał» PL 00-241 Warszawa
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2017;LXVIII(68):247–257
The State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw has in its collections a bronze ring from a pectoral attributed to the Pomeranian Culture found at Wola Pasikońska in a wet meadow lying on the edge of the Kampinos Forest (Fig. 1, 2). The ring is penannular, with tapering terminals, plano-convex of section at centre, round-sectioned near the terminals (Fig. 3, 4). Heavily worn in places, the ornament covers both sides of the artefact. On the upper face it consists of groups of oblique grooves, and short strokes arranged in a zigzag pattern, hemmed in here and there by lines; the latter pasttern is also known as a chevron motif. On the underside the decoration is less exposed, and consists of groups of transverse lines and pairs of hatched hourglasses, arranged base-to-base. Dimensions: diameter of the ring – 15.5–16.5 cm, maximum width at centre – 1.3 cm, thickness – 0.55 cm, diameter of terminals – 0.5 and 0.6 cm, space between the terminals – 6.7 cm, weight – 122.2 g. Pectorals are one of the most distinctive form of personal ornament in the Pomeranian Culture. They consist of 7–17 rings of different size, all of them with a specific ornament, individual for a given pectoral, and were fastened with a clasp. As a rule the decoration was only on the upper face of the ring; only in a handful of specimens it appears also on the lower face. Three such rings belong to hoards found in Greater Poland at Bojanowo Stare, Łuszkowo and Rudka. Rings decorated on both faces are presumably the effect of repairs. Imaginably, when a ring became damaged, or was lost for some reason, another would be added to the pectoral, taken from a different set, possibly broken up at an earlier date; in which case, the lower face of the ring lacking ornamentation was then decorated to match the other rings in the pectoral (M. Kamińska 1992, p. 17–19). The find from Wola Pasikońska does not diverge in its shape and ornamentation of its outer face from other specimens of its class. Rings decorated with the chevron motif are noted almost everywhere within the distribution range of pectorals with rings (Fig. 6) but vary in frequency depending on the region. Find sites cluster on the Lower Vistula River, in central Greater Poland, with some isolated specimens recorded in western Mazovia as well. Bifacially ornamented pectoral rings recovered so far had, on both their faces, designs typical for Pomeranian Culture pectorals. However, the decoration on the lower face of the specimen under discussion appear to have more in common with ornamentation seen on artefacts attributed to the Lusatian Culture. Motives engraved on it are similar in style to what is observed on ankle-rings type Stanomin, Mazovian variant, manufactured presumably in metallurgy workshops of Mazovia and Podlasie. The design of hatched hourglasses was observed present on other objects also attributed to these workshops, for example, spiral bracelets. Thus, the ornament on the underside of the ring is one that is well established in the ‘Lusatian’ style design. Pomeranian Culture pectorals and ankle-rings type Stanomin have the same dating – Hallstatt D, and this presumably is also the chronology of the ring from Wola Pasikońska (M. Kamińska 1992, p. 30–31; M. Mogielnicka-Urban 2008, p. 213). The most likely interpretation is that this specimen was created by recycling a ‘Lusatian’ pectoral or a rough cast of such a pectoral. Its central part was forged to produce a lenticular section, the undecorated face was covered with an ornament to match the decoration of the pectoral being repaired. The terminals were trimmed and given a stepped outline to make them fit into the clasp. The chemical composition of the bronze used in manufacturing the ring from Wola Pasikońska was analysed at the Bio- and Archeometric Laboratory of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Six points were tested (Table 1). The alloy sampled at points 2–5 was identified as tin bronze. At each point the alloy composition was slightly different, this is not unexpected – earlier studies show that samples taken from one prehistoric bronze object may have a dissimilar percentage content of individual elements. A less expected result was furnished by the analysis of alloy sampled at points 1 and 6. Here the surface of the ring retained a slender layer of tin. It has been suggested that originally, the whole ring had such a tin coating, giving it a silvery hue, one surviving at present on the surface of both faces of the ring in variously worn condition. Previous to our study we had no record on tinned objects attributed to the Pomeranian Culture, or to earlier archaeological cultures in Poland. It is agreed that the earliest tinned objects in Europe are axe finds from England and Scotland dated to the Early Bronze Age. Tinned artefacts become more frequent starting only around the 5th century BC, mostly in the Mediterranean region (N. D. Meeks 1986, p. 134). It is possible that the ring from Wola Pasikońska is the first tinned bronze of Hallstatt date to be recognized in Poland. As such it is an extremely interesting contribution to the study of bronze and other non-ferrous metals metallurgy of the younger phase of that period.