Burnt human remains found in graves dating back over 1,000 years
The burnt remains of human beings have been found in graves that are around 1,400 years old.
Archaeologists made the grim discovery in the village of Wólka Prusinowska in the northern region of Masuria, which is known for its lakes.
The four graves also contained a small number of objects. All the bodies were incinerated before being buried. After that, the remains were placed directly in pits in the ground.
It seems that the temperature of the funeral pyre was not too high, given that the bones have survived relatively well for over a thousand years.
Two of the bodies were found buried with objects. Fragments of a ceramic cup were found in one of their graves. The traces of fire on it indicate that it was burnt along with the body.
The other grave contained a clasp, along with a dozen or so beads made of spirally-twisted bronze wire. There were also numerous pieces of melted bronze, which appear to be the remains of decorations. The other two graves only contained burnt human remains.
The Polish archaeologists are not the first to investigate the burial grounds. Around the start of the 20th Century, a Prussian team discovered almost two hundred graves there.
"However, despite extensive research, they failed to determine how big the cemetery was," said Iwona Lewoc, a PhD student associated with the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Archaeology who has a longstanding interest in Baltic archaeology, who is leading the research with Kamil Niemczak.
In their view, the burial ground was used in the second half of the 6th and 7th Century, when the area was inhabited by descendants of the Baltic population, rather than Slavs.
Following their discovery, the archaeologists hope that anthropological analysis will shed further light on the people in the graves.