2018 | Tom XXVII | s. 115-138
Article title

Z Rzucewa do zachodniolitewskich osad z późnej epoki kamienia. Znaleziska z bursztynu

Title variants
From Rzucewo to West Lithuanian Late Neolithic settlements: Amber ornaments
Languages of publication
The Vistula and Nemunas rivers formed the Curonian Lagoon and the Curonian Spit Vistula Lagoon (Zalew Wiślany) and the bay of Gdańsk with its Hel peninsula. The inhabitants of these lands always held the gates to the Baltic Sea. One of the main factors that decided present land advantages ahead of the other Baltic areas was amber. The tradition of collecting amber and making and trading amber jewellery and anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures in the eastern and southern regions of the Baltic Sea began to form about 4400 BC in the Ertebølle, Narva and Comb-Market cultures. People of those cultures were the first to gather amber on the south-eastern shore of the Baltic, near lagoons and gulfs and along the shores of lakes (Figure 1). The Polish archeologists Józef Kostrzewski and Konrad Jażdżewski began systematic investigations of Rzucewo Culture settlements (pol.) (Haffküstenkultur (ger.), Pamarių (lith.), Bay Coastal culture (eng.) in Rzucewo in 1927-29. In 1954 Jan Żurek published 14 amber ornaments with drawings and photographs . The amber of Bay Coastal Culture was also described by Lotar Killian i Jerzy Okulicz . Systematical archaeological excavations of this standard site were conducted by Danuta Król, from Museum Archeological Gdańsk. A large collection of amber artefacts was found in 1985-2005. Analysis reveal 354 items of amber. These include amber artefacts, trial pieces of raw amber and production waste. The Nida Late Neolithic settlement on the Curonian Peninsula in West Lithuania belonging to the same Bay Coastal Culture was investigated by E. Hollack in 1895 and 1900. The large-scale (4,640 m2) excavations in Nida (in 1973–1978) by the famous Lithuanian archaeologist R. Rimantienė revealed a very rich cultural layer containing amber artefacts, trial pieces, raw amber and production waste. A small-scale excavation (about 105 m2) was conducted in Nida by G. Piličiauskas in 2011–13 and 2016. During all of these investigations 910 pieces of raw amber and production waste, and 51 amber artefacts and fragments were found At Šventoji 1A (Bay Coastal Culture) also remains of intensive amber processing was discovered by R. Rimantienė in 1967–69, when she excavated 1860 m2 to find a large collection of 957 pieces of raw amber and production waste, and 134 amber artefacts . Amber finds were made at the Daktariškė 5 Neolithic settlement, in which strong influences of Bay Coastal and Globular Amphora Culture can be seen: 138 pieces of raw amber, production waste, the blanks in various stages of completion were found. Among these amber artefacts we discovered 40 pendants, 18 amber buttons with V-shaped drilling, 4 cylindrical beads, 5 disks, 5 beads, 1 ring, and 1 double button. Some of these artefacts are decorated with incisions and dots . It remains unclear whether the amber was brought from the Baltic coast or local raw amber washed up from the nearby Lake Lūkstas was used. We have gathered statistics about all raw amber, amber production waste and amber ornaments from Rzucewo, Nida, Šventoji 9 and Daktariškė 5 settlements. All of them date to the Late Neolithic and belong to the Bay Coastal culture or the influence of this Culture (Daktariškė 5 settlement). Raw amber and production waste. Perhaps the majority of the raw amber used in Rzucewo, Šventoji 9, and Nida for producing amber ornaments was collected along the Baltic Sea coast, but the state of preservation of finds in the sandy dune environment (Rzucewo, Nida settlements) is very poor. Very poor quality pieces covered with a thick crumbling cortex have survived and for this reason it is sometimes very difficult even to determine which were true blanks and which were only fragments, and sometimes a given find may even be production waste or a fragment of ornamentation. It appears that some pieces may have been in a fire, as they were found in fireplaces or around them. The same may be said about the Nida and Suchacz settlements]. For this reason, sometimes statistical analyses of Rzucewo and Nida amber artefacts made in this article may not be very exact. The artefacts in Rzucewo are very small in comparison with the very well preserved amber material from the Šventoji 1A or Daktariškė 5 wetland settlements. COMPA RAT IVE ANALYSES OF AMB ER ORNAM ENTS We made comparative analyses of the main amber artefacts from Rzucewo, Nida, Šventoji 1A (Bay Coastal Culture) and the Daktariškė 5 Late Neolithic settlement with the strong influence of Globular Amphora- and Bay Coastal Cultures . We can see clearly, that elliptical button-shaped beads are found only in the Rzucewo settlement (25 examples), while round button-beads are spread in Rzucewo (12 examples), Nida (4), Šventoji 1A (62) and Daktariškė 5 (18). Cylindrical beads, as well as examples of rings of form 1-to 3 are spread through all the settlements under analysis;, pendants are also very numerous and are spread in large amounts (between 18 and 38 examples) in all settlements. We also made a percentage diagram of amber finds in from the same Late Neolithic settlements . THE CHRONOLOGY OF BAY COASTA L CULTURE AMBER ARTEFA CTS: FROM RZUCEWO TO THE WEST LITHUANIAN COAST According to the earliest calibrated dating from cemeteries and peat-bog settlements, the production, use and exchange of amber in the Eastern Baltic region – in the territories of what are today Lithuania and Latvia - started during a time span between 4400 and 4000 BC among people of the Narva Pottery Culture and Pit Comb Ware Culture. In the territories along the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, in Rzucewo, Osłonino and Żuławy region (the Vistula Delta), an area inhabited by people of the Globular Amphora-, and Bay Coastal Cultures, the earliest sites with amber are dated, according calibrated dating to around 3000 BC. In Bay Coastal Culture sites in the South-Eastern Baltic at Rzucewo and the Vistula Delta use of amber started about 2800 BC and ended ca 1900 BC; this is connected with the people of the Globular Amphora-, and Rzucewo Cultures The production of amber artefacts in areas of Bay Coastal Culture in the Eastern Baltic can be related to the transgression of the Litorina Sea, when sediments of Blue Earth with pieces of amber were washed up by prevailing directions of wind on the Eastern Baltic Sea coast and lagoons (Šventoji 1A, Nida, Daktariškė 5, etc.). We used only carbon dates obtained from the cultural layers. According these, during the period of the Bay Coastal Culture amber production in West Lithuania can be dated from around 3100 BC to ca 2000 BC. Thus, amber production at Rzucewo, Osłonino (near the Hel peninsula) and Šventoji 1A, Nida, Daktariškė 5, and Daktariškė 1 in Western Lithuania should be regarded as a contemporaneous phenomenon. CONCLUSIONS Analysis of worked amber and amber artefacts from late-Neolithic settlements at Rzucewo (Poland) the westernmost site of the Bay Coastal Culture and the most northeastern sites of this culture (Nida, Šventoji 1A) and its zone of influence (Daktariškė 5) in Lithuania, and reference to published material of other amber artefacts from this culture allows us to draw the following preliminary conclusions: 1. When comparing amber artefacts, raw material and production waste found at these sites we should pay attention to the fact that the amber artefacts found in the standard Bay Coastal Culture sites of Rzucewo and Nida survive in very poor condition because a great part of the cultural layer there was in sand and thus their typological statistical data are not completely reliable. Meanwhile amber artefacts, raw material and intermediate products survived much better in the cultural layers of the Šventoji 1A and Daktariškė 5 peat sites, making their typological statistical data much more reliable. 2. The main types of Bay Coastal Culture amber artefacts from the Rzucewo settlement – round amber buttons with a lens-shaped cross-section, quadrangular buttons with a drilled v-shaped perforation for hanging, equilateral pendants and pendants with undulating side edges, tubular beads, discs, chains and fragments thereof are found in almost all Bay Coastal Culture sites, including those in what is now Western Lithuania. 3. Elliptical buttons, pendants with a hole drilled straight through the middle for hanging, tubular beads with quadrangular edges are typical only of the settlement at Rzucewo and are not to be found at all (or only very seldom) in settlements of this culture in Lithuania. 4. Typological statistical differences may have been determined by different bases for their cultural origin – the settlement at Rzucewo was influenced by Globular Amphora and Funnel Beaker Culture, while the origin of many amber artefact types in Lithuania lies in early- and middle-Neolithic Narva Culture amber artefact types. 5. There is no single artefact type which dominates particularly clearly in all the sites we have analysed – we cannot assert that amber workshops at almost every site manufactured serial artefacts or intermediate products for trade, as is typical of the Bay Coastal Culture settlements in the Żuławy region studied by Prof. Ryszard Mazurowski. Inhabitants of the region at the centre of Bay Coastal Culture were much more involved in the amber trade, the main artery of which was the River Vistula, than were Rzucewo or West Lithuanian Bay Coastal Culture people living in the marginal zones of this culture. It seems they manufactured more and diverse types of amber artefact for their own use rather than identical serial artefacts for trade.
s. 115-138
Physical description
  • Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Wilnie, Maironio g. 6, Vilnius LT – 01124
  • Litewskie Muzeum Narodowe w Wilnie, Arsenalo g. 1, Vilnius LT – 01143
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.