Traces of a Przeworsk Culture Cemetery at Chełsty on the Narew River
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie, ul. Długa 52 «Arsenał», 00-241 Warszawa
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2014;LXV(65):251–263
The Iron Age Department of the State Archaeological Museum has in its keeping a small carton of a few dozen pottery fragments, provenanced until recently to the locality “Chełchy” (earlier: Chełsty), on the Narew River near Różan. Among the sherds were found two early (old?) handwritten labels (Fig. 1b): an apparently older one, written by S. Krukowski on 25 May 1925, with the placename “Chełsty”, near Różan in Ostrołęka County, and some details: “sand dune, to the south-east of the village”. The other, later, label by an unknown author, records the name of the locality incorrectly as “Chełchy”. This label was the cause of subsequent problems in locating the site. The placename provided by the earlier of these two labels agrees both with the geographical and topographical situation of the area around the village Chełsty on the Narew River. The pottery assemblage comprises fragments belonging to at least eleven vessels which have analogy to the funeral pottery of the Przeworsk Culture known from phases B1 and B2 of the Early Roman Period (Fig. 2 & 3). Vessels of a similar form and decoration were recorded in cemeteries in Mazovia e.g., at Kamieńczyk, Wyszków County, at Nadkole, Węgrów County, and at Oblin, Garwolin County (Fig. 4 & 5). The presence of some fragments of heavily burnt and distorted vessels (Fig. 6) lend additional support to the interpretation of the pottery collection from Chełsty as finds from a Przeworsk Culture cemetery. During an inspection made in the area around Chełsty in 2015 an oral information was obtained from one of the oldest inhabitants of the village that, some decades earlier the local people used to see some dug up “crocks with ashes” in a wood near the village. This however, had been quite a long time back and the narrator had never seen the urns. The spot indicated by the village inhabitants lies on a relic of a sand dune overgrown with a coniferous forest. In its central area there is a large and deep hollow, the remains of trenches which had destroyed almost the entire surface of the dune (Fig. 8 & 9). The damage presumably was caused by military activity during World War II. The pottery assemblage now in the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw is at present the only piece of information about a cemetery of the Przeworsk Culture, presumably small and dating to the Early Roman Period, situated on an elevation near to the now defunct river channel of the Narew and the village of Chełsty, commune Różan, in Maków Mazowiecki County (Fig. 7).