The Results of the Rescue Excavation at the Settlement of the Funnel Beaker Culture in Kownacica, Garwolin County
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2018;LXIX:79–119
Site 1 at Kownacica, Sobolew Commune, Garwolin County, Mazovian Voivodship, is situated 2.5 km south of the village of Kownacica and the Promnik River, a right-bank tributary of the Vistula (Fig. 1). It is located in the Żelechów High Plain, a 1850-square-kilometer-large mesoregion in the South Podlasie Lowland – a part of the Central Polish Lowlands (J. Kondracki 1994, p. 143–144). Presently, it is an agricultural region, interspersed with small patches of woodland. The site was discovered in 1999 as a result of a fieldwalking survey in Sobolew Commune. Artefacts made of banded and Świeciechów flints as well as fragments of pottery and daub associated with the Funnel Beaker Culture (FBC) and Early-Neolithic settlement were collected from the surface. The site was systematically destroyed by illegal sand mining, which was confirmed during inspections in 2005, 2006 and 2007 (Fig. 2). Rescue excavations were carried out between 11 September and 5 October 2007. They were supervised by Barbara Sałacińska and Izabela Chojnowska acting on behalf of the State Archaeological Museum and consulted by Sławomir Sałaciński. The main task was to determine the state of preservation of the site. The excavations encompassed various areas of the site, both destroyed by sand extraction as well as the ones undamaged by it but subjected to deep disc harrowing (Fig. 3). In the eastern part of the site, two designated areas were excavated: Trench I (10×20 m) in which 15 features were explored (Fig. 3–5), and Trench II (approx. 5×20 m) with seven explored features (Fig. 3, 7, 8). Between July 2005 and the beginning of August 2007, this part of the site was destroyed by an illegal sand mining operation for construction purposes, which created an extraction pit measuring 800 square meters on the surface and up to 2 m in depth (Fig. 2). During the archaeological research, it was referred to as a “contemporary dig”. A part of its profiles with a total length of 77.5 m was cleaned, and one feature was exposed (Fig. 6). Two designated excavation areas were explored in the western part of the site – Trench IIIA (4×5 m) and Trench IIIB (approx. 10×3×3× 7.6 m), in which two features were unearthed (Fig. 9, 10). This part of the site, overgrown with a pine and birch forest, was destroyed by numerous sand pits. In the course of the excavations, a new sand pit was recorded (sand pit I/2007). Parts of its walls with a total length of 23.8 m were cleaned, and one feature was uncovered. An inspection of the surface was carried out in the north-western part of the site. Recovered material is dated from the Late Mesolithic, through the Early Neolithic and to the Funnel Beaker Culture. In total, an area of 348.6 square meters was explored, and 101.3 linear meters of profiles were cleaned within the range of the present-day destruction. 26 features of various character were found, including a feature of the Trzciniec Culture (Fig. 11), 11 FBC features (including three postholes; Fig. 12–14, 16–19, 21–23), four features of undefined chronology (including two postholes; Fig. 15, 20), two contemporary features (including one fireplace), and eight natural features (archaeological material was found in a secondary deposit in four of them). 164 flint artefacts, 1111 pottery sherds, a stone artefact (grinder) and 240 pieces of daub, as well as a few small, burnt bone fragments were obtained. The majority of the archaeological material belongs to the FBC (1023 pieces of pottery, 60 flint artefacts). Several flint artefacts (10 specimens) can be attributed to the Late Mesolithic. Furthermore, 10 flint artefacts and 12 pottery fragments are associated with the Early Neolithic, with cultures of southern origin. Moreover, 63 sherds of the Trzciniec Culture, five pottery fragments of the Lusatian Culture and two modern sherds were acquired. Six sherds and 64 flint artefacts were not defined in terms of their chronology. The FBC pits from Kownacica were divided into several categories based on their shape: close to circular – feature 10 (Fig. 16), close to oval – feature 25 (Fig. 23), close to kidney-shaped – features 9, 17, 18 (Fig. 12, 21), and irregular – features 5, 11, 19 (Fig. 13, 17, 22). Almost all pits (nos. 5, 9–11, 17, 19, 25) had basin-shaped cross-sections – features 5, 9–11, 17, 19, 25 (Fig. 12, 13, 16, 17, 22, 23). Only the cross-section of pit 18 was irregular (Fig. 21). The FBC postholes were irregular in shape, while their cross-sections were bag-shaped – features 7 and 14 (Fig. 14, 19), and triangular or V-shaped – feature 13 (Fig. 18). Pits (5, 9, 11, 17, 18, 19, 25) and postholes (7 and 13) of the FBC were explored to their bases. They were usually from 15 to 35 cm deep. The only exceptions were feature 10 with a depth of up to 65 cm and feature 14 (a posthole) with a thickness of 55 cm. Based on the dimensions of their plans at the level of discovery, the FBC features from Kownacica can be divided into: small – up to 100 cm long (pits 5, 11, 19, 25 and postholes 7, 13, 14), medium – reaching 100–150 cm (feature 18) and large – above 150 cm (features 9, 10, 17). The feature of the Trzciniec Culture was irregular both in plan and in cross-section (Fig. 11). The fills of the FBC pits were homogeneous or poorly diversified and contained scarce flint and ceramic material. There were no stratigraphic systems noted between features. In the pits and various layers, medium-sized and small clumps of daub were discovered but there were no traces of construction. No daub debris, which could be a remnant of ground structures as discovered at some of the FBC settlements in the Polish Lowlands, was found. However, the presence of daub fragments suggests that clay was used for construction purposes to some extent and serves as a premise for a hypothesis about the existence of ground structures in the FBC settlement in Kownacica. 164 flint artefacts were separated based on their different chronology: Late Mesolithic (10 artefacts made of erratic flint, including one burnt; Fig. 24, 28:1–8, Table 1, 4), Early Neolithic cultures of southern origin (10 artefacts made of chocolate flint, including three burnt; Fig. 24, 28:9–15, Table 1, 2, 4), the FBC (39 artefacts made of banded flint, including four burnt, nine of Świeciechów flint, including one burnt, 12 of Volhynian flint; Fig. 24–27, 29, 30, 31:1–8, Table 1–4), and unspecified with regards to archaeological culture (47 specimens made of erratic flint, including two burnt, 10 of chocolate flint, including three burnt, 10 of banded flint, five of Świeciechów flint, and 12 of undefined burnt flint; Fig. 24, Table 2, 4). With 35 specimens (58.33%), banded flint dominates among the material associated with the Funnel Beaker Culture (60 pieces in total). Next is Volhynian flint with 12 (20%) specimens and Świeciechów flint with eight (13.33%). Several re-burnt artefacts were also isolated: four (6.67%) exemplars made of banded flint and one (1.67%) specimen made of Świeciechów flint (Fig. 25). A preference for a specific type of raw material is visible in the FBC flint assemblage: banded flint was used mainly for making axes and splintered pieces, Volhynian flint – blade tools and splintered pieces (Fig. 26, 27). Only 16 flint artefacts (and only three tools) were found inside the features. The major part of the accumulated flint material (148 pieces) was discovered in the layers outside of the archaeological features. 54 specimens were separated from the flint assemblage from Kownacica, among them: eight cores (Table 1, Fig. 28:1–5), 17 splintered pieces (Table 2, Fig. 29:3, 30:1.2), an axe (Table 3, Fig. 29:1), a part of an axe near the butt (Table 3, Fig. 29:2), three fragments of half-finished axes (Table 3, Fig. 30:3), and 24 blade and flake tools (Table 4), including three scrapers (Fig. 28:7.8, 31:8), three endscrapers on retouched blades (Fig. 28:9.10, 31:2), a truncated blade with a retouched blade (Fig. 31:6), four fragments of retouched blades (Fig. 31:3–5), two fragments of endscrapers (Fig. 31:1), a fragment of a borer (Fig. 31:7), a burin and a fragment of a burin (Fig. 28:11.12), a trapeze (Fig. 28:13), two blades and two fragments of partially retouched blades (Fig. 28:14.15, 30:4), three retouched flakes. Among 1,111 fragments of ceramics, 1,023 sherds of the FBC pottery were identified (Fig. 32, 33). 12 fragments are associated with older Neolithic settlement (Fig. 28:16), 63 sherds with the Trzciniec Culture, five sherds with the Lusatian Culture. Two fragments represent modern pottery, while six sherds have not been defined in terms of archaeological culture. Only 132 sherds of the FBC pottery were discovered inside the features. The FBC pottery is heavily fragmented (Fig. 32, 33). Not one whole vessel was found. A funnel beaker (Fig. 33:16), a beaker with a short, funnel-shaped, everted neck (Fig. 32:17), and a rim of a collared flask (Fig. 32: 3) were partially reconstructed. Amphorae (Fig. 33:4.12), pots (Fig. 33:2.5.6) and shallow bowls (Fig. 32:13, 33:14) were also identified. The pottery from Kownacica is characterized by a careful preparation of the clay body, the finish of the surface and its hardness. It is also well-fired. The exterior surfaces are light brown, brown, and dark grey, while the interior surfaces are brown and grey. The walls of the vessels were very carefully smoothed – matt or burnished. A deliberate coarsening of the external surface was noted on five sherds. The body was tempered with a mixture of fine-grained sand and chamotte, evenly distributed throughout the entire clay body. The pottery is well-fired, with one- or two-colour cross-sections. Vessels were decorated in three zones: mainly from the outside, under the rim, less often on the very rim and/or on the body. One- and two-element motifs in a horizontal arrangement placed below the edge of the rim constitute the prevailing decoration on the vessels. Imprinting is the dominant method employed for ornamentation.(Fig. 32:1., 33:8.11). Appliqué decorations were used less often (Fig. 33:1. Incisions (Fig. 32:5), furrow stitch (Fig. 32:8.9) and double cord impressions (Fig. 32:10) occur sporadically. One whole and four fragments of FBC spindle whorls were found in Kownacica. Only one of the fragments was recovered from an FBC feature (no. 17); one was discovered on the surface, and the others in the layers outside of the archaeological features. Two of them are convex and flat (Fig. 31:11), one – lenticular (Figure 31:9), one – conic (Fig. 31:10) in shape. One could not be classified because of its state of preservation. The clay whorls, similar to the FBC pottery, were made of a perfectly prepared clay body mixed with mineral temper composed of fine-grained sand and chamotte. They have carefully smoothed, light brown surfaces, sometimes slightly burnished. The cross-section are one or two-coloured. Pottery from Kownacica forms a homogeneous assemblage and shares characteristics with the material of the south-eastern group of the FBC. Based on the style of the ceramics, the settlement in Kownacica can be associated with the classical phase of the south-eastern FBC group (B. Burchard, S. Jastrzębski, J. Kruk 1991; J. Kruk, S. Milisauskas 1981, 1983, 2018), linked with the phases Bronocice II and IIIA dated to the period from 3650 BC to 3400/3300 BC (P. Włodarczak 2006, p. 33, 58). Analogies to the pottery from Kownacica can be found among the vessels originating from the loess settlements of the south-eastern FBC and dated to the phase Bronocice II, e.g., from Klementowice B, Puławy County (J. Kowalczyk 1957), Pliszczyn 9, Lublin County (T. J. Chmielewski, E. Mitrus 2015, p. 62–82), Złota Nad Wawrem, Sandomierz County (B. Matraszek 2001), Modlnica, Kraków County (A. Zastawny, P. Włodarczak, B. Grabowska 2011) Zawarża, Pińczów County (A. Kulczycka-Leciejewiczowa 2002b), Pawłosiów 52 (M. Rybicka, D. Król, J. Rogoziński 2014) and Skołoszów 31, both Jarosław County (J. Rogoziński 2014). Making the distinction between two patterns of settlement: loess and para-‘lowland’ was extremely important for acquiring knowledge of the FBC in Lesser Poland. A presentation of and a rich discussion on this matter can be found in the literature on the subject (B. Burchard, S. Jastrzębski, J. Kruk 1991, p. 95–98; J. Kruk, S. Milisauskas 1999, p. 109–117; S. Kadrow 2009; 2010; M. Nowak 2009, p. 325–344). Some of the settlements located in the sandy areas of Lesser Poland represent a period contemporary with the older stage of the classical phase from the loess areas – linked with the phase Bronocice II. This is probably related to the economic activity of human groups from settlement centers from loess regions (B. Burchard, S. Jastrzębski, J. Kruk 1991, p. 96; J. Kruk, S. Milisauskas 1999, p. 117). This economic model is represented by the analyzed FBC settlement in Kownacica, the settlement at Szumów 10, Puławy County (P. Zawiślak 2013) and probably at Białobrzegi 5, Łańcut County (S. Czopek, S. Kadrow 1988; K. Karski 2014). Rescue excavation in Kownacica confirmed the existence of a Neolithic FBC settlement at the site. Types, morphology and technology of clay vessels as well as artefacts made of southern and south-eastern siliceous rocks (banded, Świeciechów, Volhynian flints) indicate that the inhabitants of the settlement were in direct contact with the communities of the south-eastern FBC group, or that it was founded by visitors in possession of the products manufactured in the South.