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14 October 2013
Bronze Age migration from Sweden to Poland

During the Early Bronze Age there was a very high level of territorial mobility of the Únětice culture in Silesia, a large community inhabiting the south western territories of Poland approximately 4,000 years ago. Archaeologist Dalia Pokutta from the University of Gothenburg also conclusively confirms the first case of human long-distance overseas journey to Silesia from Scandinavia, probably from southern Sweden: "Over 3800 years ago, a young male, possibly born in Skåne, made a journey of over 900 kilometers south, to Wroclaw in Poland. He died violently in Wroclaw, killed by Úněticean farmers, possibly due to romance with two local females, who were murdered together with him. This 'Bronze Age love story', with no happy ending is the first case of Swedish-Polish contacts in history ever", concludes Pokutta.
     The Únětice culture, commonly known and associated with Nebra Sky Disk, is currently considered to be part of a wider pan-European cultural phenomenon, arising gradually between III-II millennium BCE. Dalia Pokutta's work is a 'bioarchaeological portrait' of the Únětice culture in Poland, focusing particularly on the territories of Lower Silesia. The study presents the subject from a palaeodemographic perspective based on the results of isotopic analysis of human remains dating back to the Early Bronze Age (2200-1600 BCE).
     "It is the biggest isotopic project undertaken in Poland so far. We analysed hundreds of samples, not only human bones, but also animals. The results of the analyses went beyond our wildest dreams or expectations" says Dalia Pokutta.
     The author focuses on the Early Bronze Age lifestyle, medical knowledge and diseases, occupations and professions, as well as chosen subgroups of the Silesian prehistoric society. The study provides information regarding diet and subsistence, transportation, human migrations and territorial mobility as well as the impact of these factors upon Úněticean society, expansion of metallurgy and commerce, forms of rulership and collective identity.
     One of the leading conclusions is a very high level of territorial mobility of the prehistoric population in Silesia, with presence of immigrants from Germany, Czechia, Hungary and Sweden. The study also confirms massive changes in European agriculture around year 2000 BCE, like the introduction of manuring on large scale. "My study aims at a new dimension of bioarchaeology, presenting the archaeological culture through the life histories of the people: skilled astronomers and star-gazers, talented metallurgists, farmers, explorers, merchants and barrow builders; the people who laid the foundations of the first Europe of metals and the Bronze Age world", says Pokutta.

Edited from ScienceDaily (7 October 2013)

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