2014 | 60 | 137-158
Article title

Naczynia ceramiczne i wiaderka klepkowe z wczesnopiastowskiego cmentarzyska w Sowinkach k. Poznania

Title variants
Ceramic vessels and stave buckets from an early Piast cemetery in Sowinki near Poznań.
Languages of publication
Two clay vessels and eleven to twelve stave buckets with iron hoops were discovered in Sowinki, in a skeletal flat cemetery with two phases of use that dates back to the fourth quarter of the 10th to the first half of the 12th century. They were found in burials of three people aged iuvenis of unspecified gender (objects no. 61, 148, 151), one person aged iuvenis /adultus, also of unknown gender (object no. 70), four people aged adultus, including two women (objects no. 7 and 138) and two men (objects no. 44 and 76), probably one man aged maturus (object no. 176). The age and gender of four of the remains (objects no. 10B, 23, 157 and 182) could not be determined due to poorly preserved bone fragments (objects No. 10B, 157 and 182), or their total absence (object No. 23). In all of the graves, the vessels were individually placed nearby the feet of the deceased, usually to his or her left. In most of the burials, they were found in the direct vicinity of the deceased, within the grave pit, or even directly inside the clear outlines of the coffin. Only in three cases, in the graves where traces of coffins were registered, did the buckets clearly lie beyond them Following the typological division proposed by G. Arwidsson and L. Holmquist (1986, p. 238), the stave buckets from Sowinki represent two morphological types among this kind of objects. The eleven buckets belong to the first type (group A according to the authors), were made with the use of cooperage techniques, with handles, iron rims and a movable iron bail handle. The majority of objects have a slight conical form, with a noticeable enlargement at the bottom, with a diameter in the range of 14-18 cm and the preserved height of 11-14 cm, the initial height ranging from 13 to 16 cm. A variant of this type is represented by a single object only, the bucket discovered in burial no. 138. Carrying similar features as the buckets of A1 variant, it is of a larger size with a diameter of about 22 cm, whereas the height of the bucket could have originally been about 18-20 cm. The second type of buckets registered in Sowinki is also a case of a single object found only in burial No. 151, whose attributes place it in the buckets of group C by G. Arwidsson and L. Holmquist (1986, p. 238). It had both an iron and a silver-plated sheet (approx. 5 cm in width), below which and between another array of iron rims were iron and silverplated plaques of a different kind, arranged in a garland pattern. The bucket’s diameter was approximately 23-26,5 cm, and the initial height of about 20-22 cm. The corresponding findings from the graveyards of the same chronological period both in the Slavic and Scandinavian territories are sparse. The analysis of the original content of the clay vessels and stave buckets from Sowinki proved that the objects most likely contained organic animal products such as boneless meat (in objects no. 148, 151), unspecified food (object no. 176), cereal or oilseeds grains (object no. 70) or beverages (beer or wine dissolved in water). The function of this kind of „gifts” could therefore have an apotropaic character. The remaining buckets, however, were probably originally empty. Moreover, in seven buckets there were fabric residues, attached to the outer parts of the iron bails or rims. Unfortunately, neither the raw material nor warp and weft of the fabrics were identified. It remains an open question as to what the original function of these residues might have been. The research performed on these as well as other fabrics from the site suggests that we are probably dealing with both remnants of clothing and sheets in which the deceased were wrapped. In terms of spatial range, the analyzed vessels were found in chronologically older sector of the cemetery, its central-western part dating back to the period between the 10th and the first half of the 11th century. They were located in no particular spatial order. In several cases (objects 70, 148, 151), however, it is noticeable that they were undoubtedly burials of people of considerable status in the then society.
Physical description
  • Muzeum Archeologiczne w Poznaniu
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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