A Fortified Settlement of West Balt Barrow Culture from the Early Iron Age at Tarławki, distr. Węgorzewo
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Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarności 105, 00-140 Warszawa
Publication date: 2008-12-31
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2008;LX(60):335–360
The site at Tarławki is situated ca 3.75 km west of Lake Mamry, NE Poland, on an elevation known as ‘Dziewicza Góra’ which rises over the surrounding forest (Fig. 1:1); both the upper (now almost completely lost to gravel extraction) and lower area of this elevation (Fig. 2) produced evidence of prehistoric occupation – site 1 A and 1 B, respectively. First recorded before World War II by German researchers, visited five years after end of the war by Polish archaeologists J. Antoniewicz and A. Gardawski, the site was excavated only in 1971 and 1973 by J. Okulicz and his team. Excavation was carried out in three research zones (Fig. 2): Zone I – north and central area of site 1B (Fig. 3); Zone II – south area of site 1B, north area of site 1A (Fig. 4); Zone III – south area of the elevation ‘Dziewicza Góra’ (Fig. 5). Features identified during excavation included 8 hearths, 15 pits, 3 (4) dwellings, 2 metallurgy ‘workshops’ (Fig. 15), a burial, remains of defences (Fig. 7–10) and 100 postholes (Fig. 6). Hearths were either sub-oval (5) or irregular (3) in outline. No. 2 and 16 may have been associated with larger dwelling structures. Pits differed in size and outline. Fragments of the two largest were revealed in plot O34 and P32-33, one of them interpreted tentatively as a fragment of the culture layer, the other, as part of a dwelling structure (feature no. 12). The smaller pits were round or oval in outline, others were rectangular. Because investigation was made in area lying outside the fortified settlement (very little of its inner area had survived) only a small number of dwelling features were identified: a raised dwelling (?) found in plot R18-P19, a 2.4×2.2 m ‘hut’ (feature no. 12) in plot P32-33, a part of which may have been feature no. 11 (identified as a pit), and a feature no. 26, a fragment of which was discovered in plot R36. This third dwelling, presumably sub-rectangular in outline, with a flat floor, and a vertical N wall, was interpreted as a pit dwelling which when dug, cut into the deteriorating rampart in a period where the defences in this area had fallen into disuse. Two features were associated with bronze metallurgy. No. 15 – rectangular in outline, with a flat floor – first occurred in plot P36 and continued to the east and north (Fig. 15). No. 25, a fragment of which was identified in plot R36-37, S36-37, was oval in outline (Fig. 15), had a flat floor and a curving western wall. The fill and of these two features and the area around them contained numerous finds associated with bronze metallurgy. The remains of defences, identified mainly on the south face of the elevation ‘Dziewicza Góra’, included the fragment of the top and outer face of a rampart (Fig. 7). This structure consisted of five strata. Layer I – humus (20 cm) and layer II – several levels of mixed clay, gravel and sand (ca 120–160 cm) in alignment with the sloping sides of the earthwork (Fig. 7, 8); these levels, which contained charcoal, potsherds and fragments of bones, presumably were taken from an earlier culture layers from within the settlement. Layer III: the remains of burnt timber and earth-and-timber, mostly defensive structures. The original structure of the rampart was reconstructed only tentatively basing on the limited evidence at hand: plot T51 produced traces of a timber crossed logs build which cut into the earth embankment of an older rampart (Fig. 8, 9). Presumably associated with layer III were traces of stakes driven vertically into the ground, identified in plot R52-53, most probably formed the first line of defences in the form of a stockade on the hill slope. Layer IV consisted of two pits (no. 34 and 37), visible in the section of the gravel mine filled with black earth mixed with charcoal and stones (Fig. 7). Their function is unclear. The remains of layer V identified in plot T51 consisted of a 120 cm wide ditch cutting ca 25 cm into the natural running parallel to the rim of the elevation. Into its flat bottom several lines of piles had been driven to form a stockade around the internal area of the settlement (Fig. 10). Other remains of defensive structures were identified on the north side of the settlement. A dark layer with diagonal bands of black earth discovered in plot R35-36 most probably may be linked with layer III of the rampart identified on the south face of elevation ‘Dziewicza Góra’. Other remains of what may have been a stockade were discovered in plot R36 – traces of sixty wooden stakes (Fig. 6), possibly, also in plots R33 and R17. South of the fortified settlement, in plot R53, between layers II and III (fire burnt) a pit (no. 31) contained bones of a child. This burial suggests that the settlement was abandoned some time after the fire. Small finds discovered at the settlement at Tarławki included pottery, objects associated with bronze metallurgy, ornaments and dress accessories, tools and implements, other items (Fig. 11–14, 16). Pottery (ca 20 000 fragments) was mostly from early Iron Age (only 50 specimens were medieval). Vessels, of clay tempered mostly by addition of red and/or white crushed rock, were built by coiling. Only a number of smaller pieces were moulded from one lump of clay. Where they survived vessel bases were mostly flat and indistinct, more rarely, round or rounded. The largest group of vessels were roughened all over or most of their surface or daubed with fingers (smoothing is noted occasionally only on the vessel lip and in a narrow band above the base), ovoid or S-shaped. Similar texture is seen in some bowls. Pieces smoothed all over their surface are much less numerous and include mainly bowls, as well as vases and biconical vessels, ovoid and S-shaped pots, mugs and jugs as well as sieve-like specimens and miniature vessels. An even smaller group of vessels have a smoother upper and roughened lower body. A very large group are flat dishes, often richly ornaments. In other groups of vessels ornamentation is less frequent and consists of vertical and oblique strokes in various patterns, finger and finger-nail impressions, rows of indentations or holes, plastic projections, applied bosses or cordons, mock-cordon ornament and stamped ornament. A handful of specimens were decorated by hatching or impressing of textiles. Objects associated with bronze metallurgy – 300 pieces (Fig. 13, 15) included a large number of fragments of lost-wax clay moulds used to produce bracelets and neckrings, 5 or 6 fragments of two- or three-part clay moulds used in production of small axes. Other finds evidently associated with bronze metallurgy included fragments of clay crucibles and bowls (Fig. 12:24, 13:26?.27.28), fragments of mould spouts (Fig. 13:15–20) and inlets (Fig. 13:21–25), clay ladles (A. Waluś 1982, fig. 1f) and stone polishers (Fig. 13:29, 17:6). Ornaments and dress accessories included a bronze ring (Fig. 16:2), blue glass bead, fragment of an iron wire earring with 2 glass beads, a bronze wire spiral of nine coils of salta leone type (Fig. 16:3), as well as at least 3 bone pins (Fig. 16:4, 17:3). Implements included a fragmented clay spindlewhorl (Fig. 16:6), clay weight (?) (Fig. 16:7), and loom weight (Fig. 16:10), 12 stone polishers and rubbers (Fig. 16:8.11), whetstone (Fig. 16:13), fragment of a polishing slab (?) (Fig. 16:12), fragment of a quernstone, 5 pieces of worked flint. Objects of bone and antler included mostly awls and perforators (Fig. 16:9); at least two needles (Fig. 16:5), a bone haft (Fig. 16:14), fragment of a hoe (or hammer) from red-deer antler (Fig. 17:2), a scraper made of bone (Fig. 17:1). Iron finds included an iron awl and fragments of two knives (Fig. 16:15), the latter, as shown by metallographic analysis, are probably medieval. Less easily interpreted finds are a small funnel-like object made of clay (Fig. 16:16), and a stone find with two pits made in both its longer faces (Fig. 17:4). Mainly on the basis of pottery finds the settlement at Tarławki was dated to phase I of West Balt Barrow Culture (acc. to Ł. Okulicz) to early or 1st stage of phase III (HaD – middle LT), and the following stages of occupation were distinguished. Stage I, open settlement, is represented mainly by the older of the two bronze ‘casting workshops’ (feature no. 15). It operated during phase I of West Balt Barrow Culture. In a later period at least the higher lying area of the elevation was fortified with a stockade. Its remains were discovered both in the S rampart (layer V) as well as in the E rampart (Fig. 1:3). The small set of pottery from this period includes diverse forms of pots and bows, also, cups and plates (Fig. 14:1–10), dated to phase I West Balt Barrow Culture. After some time the settlement was enclosed with an earth-and-timber rampart in a crossed logs build. Presumably it bounded a larger area than the earlier stockade since its traces were discovered in the south rampart (layer III), east rampart and apparently also in the plots R35-36 in research zone II. It is unclear whether features no. 34 and 37 (layer IV of S rampart) should be attributed to the same stage of occupation or interpreted as remains of a different defensive structure. Ceramic material recovered from them (Fig. 14:11–18) did not include feature vessels decorated with groups of alternating oblique strokes whereas finger and finger-nail impressed ornaments cover a smaller area than in specimens recovered from layer V. The surviving remains of the rampart indicate that the fortifications of layer III were destroyed by fire but that the site was reoccupied by the people of West Balt Barrow Culture – this is indicated by features no. 27 and 28, cut into the remains of burnt timbers, containing vessel forms with flat and round bases (Fig. 14:19–23). By the presence of these ceramics the two features were assigned to phase II of West Balt Barrow Culture. The second ‘bronze casting workshop’ (feature no. 25) was younger, apparently established not earlier than during phase II of West Balt Barrow Culture. Its size and rich ceramic assemblage (Fig. 14:24–33) indicate that the workshop continued over a longer time, presumably even during early phase III. The latest archaeological features discovered in Tarławki are pits no. 21, 22 and 26. Pit no. 26 cut into the crumbling earth embankment of the rampart and contained mostly featureless ceramics (Fig. 14:34–37).
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