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20 October 2014
Prehistoric artifacts discovered in Poland

At the highest point of an elevation consisting of sands and gravels deposited long ago by a moving glacier, archaeologists stumbled upon fragments of pottery cups and bowls belonging to the Bell Beaker culture, named after their distinctive drinking vessels. Remains from this culture are found over large areas of Europe and even North Africa, but cannot be identified with any one particular people.
     The vessels discovered at Suprasl, in extreme northeast Poland, are decorated with incisions on both the outer and inner surfaces. According to the researchers, they were associated with libation rituals with alcohol beverages.
     Fragments of decorated vessels were surrounded by a small cluster of burned animal or human bones, where the archaeologists also found a fragment of amber bead. Another amber object was found near the cluster, next to burned bones. "Amber was an exotic and prestigious material for the Bell Beaker communities, and never before found in Podlasie. Discovered ornaments are among the oldest objects of this type in the region," says Dr Manasterski.
     Archaeologists also found items made of stone and flint. The stone artefacts included an arrow straightener, an adze, a fragment of curved blade, and pieces of a dagger. Flint objects included arrowheads, knives, and various inserts for tools with a complex blade design. "All the stone artefacts are perfectly made and alien to the local production. These objects rare in this part of Europe, and very prestigious," says Dr Manasterski.
     Some of the items were damaged or unfinished, which according to the archaeologists may be associated with a symbolic meaning for people who offered them. So far the archaeologists have not been able to unambiguously determine the origin of the discovered objects. Specialised laboratory tests will help answer this question.
     "The entire ritual deposit is an exceptional find in central Europe. It contains one of the richest collections of objects usually found in the elite skeletal graves in Western Europe from this period," says the researcher.
     "This year's finds, while exceptional due to the presence of the most easterly collection of objects associated with the Bell Beaker community, do not explain the migration routes and distances of its carriers," concludes Dr Manasterski.

Edited from Science & Scholarship in Poland (29 September 2014)

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