Excavation of the Stronghold at Klukowicze in Podlasie (NE Poland)
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Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Al. Solidarności 105, 00-140 Warszawa
Publication date: 2003-12-31
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2003;LVI(56):189-227
The fortified settlement at Klukowicze, comm. Nurzec Stacja, distr. Siemiatycze, woj. podlaskie, lies north of the present-day village buildings, occupying one of a number of sandy elevations, which rise from the extensive floodland of the Pulwa stream (Fig. 1). Roughly oval in shape and elongated along its E-W axis (Fig. 2), the settlement contains at present an inner area of some 105 by 135 metres. The rings of three walls and three moats, which surrounded the stronghold in the past, are still partly legible even today. Analysis of stratigraphy exposed in the excavated area of the settlement at Klukowicze helped to distinguish four main phases of occupation (Fig. 3 and 7, Table 3). Pottery recovered included 1 624 fragments (Table 1), a highly mixed collection, reflecting chronological periods documented at Klukowicze and the diversity of vessel forms in use during different occupation phases. Because of this classification of ceramic material had to base on a wide range of criteria, including vessel morphology, ornamentation and technology. Using the above criteria rim sherds were distinguished into ten types (Fig. 8, Table 2). Earliest occupation of the site of the fortified site at Klukowicze going back to the Early Roman Period are indicated by material recovered from features from phase I.1. A settlement set up at that time on a sandy hillock had timber raised post building structures (Fig. 4). Hatched pottery recovered from the postholes is analogous to the material dated to the 1st half of the 1st millennium AD recorded at Hatched (Stroke) Pottery Culture sites in the region (Fig. 9:1–3). There is some suggestion that the site was occupied even earlier, perhaps intermittently. This is indicated by isolated potsherds, which recall forms noted in Pomeranian Culture and the so-called Czerniczyn Group. Alternately, the finds may testify to traditionalism and persistence of earlier models. Phase I.2 is documented by a large quantity of potsherds and daub fragments, the latter retaining impressions of timber elements suggesting that dwellings were built in a light wattle construction and may have contained clay ovens. Traces of primitive iron smelting hearths indicate production of iron from bog ores. Pottery (Fig. 9:4–33, 10:1–9) is in many respects similar to Roman Period wares recorded in the region, eg at Kutowa and Hryniewicze Wielkie (cf J. Andrzejowski 1999), as well as from Khotoml near Brest (G. M. Bjalickaja 1996). Phase I.3 was also a period of intensive settlement activity, evidenced by abundant potsherds (Fig 10:10–37, 11:1–10), a whetstone (Fig. 11:12) and a glass vessel (Fig. 11:13). The latter helped to date phase I.3 to phase C3/D1 of the Roman Period. A substantial admixture of hatched pottery fragments suggests strong influence of Hatched Pottery Culture during this period and intensive contacts maintained during the Late Roman Period by the community at Klukowicze with groups settled in areas east and northeast of the studied site. During phase II.1 (Fig. 11:14–24) the study area was levelled for a new settlement, with greatest activity registered in phase II.2 (Fig. 12), the time of construction of a rampart. This earthwork fortified with timber and faced with stone (Figs 5, 6), probably started to be built during the younger stage of the early medieval period, presumably in the 10th c. Layers associated with occupation phase III produced a large quantity of finds (Figs 13, 14) suggesting intensive activity at the time when the internal wall was destroyed and later. Judging from the youngest pottery destruction presumably occurred late in the 12th or at the beginning of the 13th c. Nevertheless, a 14th c. vessel discovered at the site suggests that the stronghold continued in function in a later period. Phase IV (Fig. 15) corresponds to the final destruction of the settlement area and its earliest structures by numerous post-medieval and modern trenches. The fortified settlement at Klukowicze is situated in a border zone of different cultures; it existed in a period of transition, still imperfectly understood in its complexity. Around the turn of the eras and during the first centuries after Christ the region was an area of contact and overlap of different cultures and of overlapping occurrence of specific products, of trade and migration routes. During phase B2 of the Roman Period dense Przeworsk Culture settlement is documented as far as the edge of the Drohiczyn Heights, only a small distance from Klukowicze. It is reasonable to assume therefore that there may have been lively exchange between Przeworsk Culture people and the community of Klukowicze. Evidence produced by the studied settlement shows that material culture of Przeworsk Culture folk had left their mark on the culture of its eastern outlying areas, one also subjected to substantial long-lived impact of the Hatched Pottery Culture and Zarubintsy Culture. Material evidence from Klukowicze, while retaining its local distinctiveness, reflects lively exchange with other groups inhabiting the region, especially during the Roman Period – heyday of the fortified settlement. Its attribution to any of the Late Roman Period cultures or groups is difficult. Late Roman pottery from the settlement includes elements typical for several different archaeological taxonomic units. In addition, some of these elements were substantially modified, giving the clay vessels from the period a distinctive character. Archaeologist have recently started to realise that a number of archaeological sites investigated in east Podlasie (Hryniewicze Wielkie, Kutowa, Klukowicze) has produced assemblages characterised by evident syncretism, dated to the Late Roman Period and visibly resembling pottery of the so-called Grini and Abidnia types from the upper reaches of the Dnepr (eg, L. D. Pobol, A. V. Iljutik 2002). The presence of both post-Zarubintsy and Hatched Pottery Culture features suggests that the material may be linked with the northern periphery of Kiev Culture – an complex, which researchers are increasingly inclined to identify as the source of crystallization of Slav ethnicity. In addition, Later Roman pottery from Klukowicze shows similarity, in terms of vessel form and manner of treatment of vessel surface, to pottery of the Zaozere-Uzmen group, considered the result of a synthesis of influence of the northern variant of Kiev Culture and the local substrate of the Dneper-Dvina Culture (N. V. Lopatin 2003). Material evidence from the older phases of the early medieval period recorded at Klukowicze indicates continuity of settlement and culture in the region, even in the period of turbulent change at the turn of the antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It is worth noting that material culture of the community inhabiting Klukowicze during the period of interest, prior to the construction of defences, resembles greatly the culture in the neighbouring areas of regions of Mazowsze and Podlasie. The pottery is similar in character to the so-called Prague-Type (or “resembling Prague-Type”); “egg-shaped” forms, described extensively by W. Szymański (1967) as types Ia, Ib, II and III, correspond to types 6b and 8 distinguished in the ceramic material from Klukowicze. However, no culture deposit could unequivocally be equated with the earliest stages of the medieval period while ceramic material from that period was recovered from younger layers. It is likely that the deposits from the older stages of the early medieval period were disturbed during subsequent construction of the rampart. As only a small area has been investigated at Klukowicze layers from the earliest medieval period may survive intact elsewhere on the site. It is unclear whether during this earliest medieval period the site was used as an open settlement or was defended even then by some structure no longer detectable in the investigated part of the fortified settlement. During the later occupation period, in Phase II and partly in Phase III, the pottery shows close links with material from other open settlements and strongholds of Mazowsze and Podlasie. No resemblance is noted on the other hand to material culture of areas more to the east. It is likely therefore that the sandy hummock at Klukowicze was fortified in period when Mazowsze was being colonised by the state of the Piast dynasty around the middle of the 11th c. (M. Miśkiewicz 1981, p. 113). This link is corroborated indirectly by the range of Mazowsze type cemeteries (with graves within stone settings), which in the region have their easternmost extent, reaching right up to the settlement at Klukowicze (K. Musianowicz 1960, pl. IX; V. V. Sedov 1982, p. 121 map 16). The slight thickness of the occupation layer on the inner side of the wall is fairly thin and produced a relatively modest quantity of finds suggests that settlement at the time of construction of the rampart was not very intensive. Alternately it is possible that most of the population lived in open settlements clustering around the stronghold. It is more probable that after the destruction of the stronghold at Klukowicze its function was taken over by the nearest fortified settlement at Bobrówka. Absence of a larger quantity of archaeological material dating form the early 10th c. shows that it is probably futile to search in the region of Klukowicze for traces of a permanent trade route, or the existence of a trading post. The culture situation in the region changed presumably in the 12th c. This is evidenced by Ruthenian elements in the pottery discovered at Klukowicze in deposits corresponding to the period postdating the destruction of the inner rampart. This phenomenon corresponds presumably to political events associated with the occupation of the territory east of the rivers Narew, Liza, Mienia and lower Nurzec by the Ruthenian principalities (M. Miśkiewicz 1981, p. 116). Before concluding it is worth recalling that the significance of the fortified settlement at Klukowicze follows from the presence in its deposits of material evidence from several chronological phases, reflecting the complicated history of the region in late antiquity and early Middle Ages. Of particular importance is the discovery of finds, so far noted only rarely in Poland, which may be linked to the widely conceived Kiev Culture environment in the Late Roman Period, and materials from the older phases of the early medieval period. As such, Klukowicze are particularly important for resolving vital question of ethnic and culture genesis of the Slavs and of settlement and culture continuity at the turn of antiquity and early Middle Ages.
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