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2010 | 55 | 1-2 | 23-88

Article title

GLASS BEADS WITH ZIGZAG ORNAMENT DISCOVERED ON SITES FROM THE EARLY IRON AGE IN THE INTERFLUVE OF THE ODER AND VISTULA RIVERS. (Paciorki szklane zdobione linia zygzakowata odkryte w miedzyrzeczu Odry i Wisly na stanowiskach z wczesnej epoki zelaza)


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Beads (approximately 1100) of different color glass than the body have been found in assemblages from 89 archaeological sites situated in the territory of Poland. The sites have been attributed mainly to the cultures: Lusatian (63), Pomeranian (16), Lusatian or Pomeranian (16) and, very seldom, the West Balt Barrows (4). The finds come from cemeteries (56), settlements (11) and hoards (8); in a few cases they are loose finds (4) and in 10 cases the context could not be ascertained. Graves containing beads of this kind represent mostly cremation kind burials, but inhumations have also been noted. Available anthropological data points to young women being the chief recipients of these beads in burial. The Wicina stronghold is special among the settlement sites, having yielded 225 specimens with zigzag or wave ornament - 21% of all such beads. In the eight hoards six uncovered mostly in Masovia they were associated as a rule with metal objects. The beads were classified into four subgroups and five variants depending on colour and translucency of glass. The source of beads classified as variants II.I., IV.I. and IV.II. cannot be determined. Beads from subgroup III and variant II.III. of subgroup II were produced most likely in the territory of modern Slovenia. At least some of the beads from subgroup I and variant II.II. of subgroup II may have been made in the northwestern Balkans or the southeastern region of the Alps. The present analysis demonstrates that beads found in the interfluve of the Oder and Vistula rivers in assemblages dating from subphase Ha C (or the beginnings of Ha D) reached the territory of western Poland from the south, through the Moravian Gate. They were distributed apparently along the waterways, down the upper and middle Oder, the Prosna river, and the middle and lower Warta to the middle Notec. Beads dated to Ha D were imported to the middle Oder and Greater Poland regions from the west (through Brandenburg) and were subsequently carried to eastern Pomerania and Masovia. It is difficult to say whether the beads found in southeastern Poland came through Masovia or Slovakia. Physico-chemical examination revealed certain differences in the chemical composition (LMG or LMMK glass) and physical structure (presence or absence of numerous quartz crystals), which are useful for bead periodization. LMMK glass with abundant quartz crystals is typical to the Ha C-Ha C/Ha D; the LMG glass on the other hand occurs in both the older and the younger Halstatt subphases. The analyses have also recorded two kinds of glass, soda-glass and lead-glass, which can be subdivided into five variants and seven chemical types. Blue colorants included presumably CoO, CuO or Fe2O3, the dark green ones CuO or Fe2O3, the red-brown or black-brown ones Fe2O3; the white ones Ca2Sb2O7 and the yellow ones Pb2Sb2O7. In the latter two cases, the same compounds were responsible for the opacity of the glass. Antimony oxide was the plaining agent for evidently translucent glass of light green color. Technical examination revealed that the beads were made with the winding technique. (figs.18, tables 6)









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  • Tomasz Purowski, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland


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Publication order reference


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