Grave of elite Bronze-Age man with massive bones reconstructed in stunning 3D
A new 3D rendering of a 2,000-year-old aristocrat’s grave shows how the tribes inhabiting the Małopolska region buried their elites.
The richly-equipped kurgan, one of only a dozen in Poland, is known as the prince’s grave, due to the evident high standing of the man laid to rest there and the site’s monumental form.
The burial ground in Szarbia, near Kraków, was discovered in 1997 in fields by researchers from the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, led by Ryszard Naglik.
The excavations carried out until 2001 yielded incredible results. The archaeologists uncovered two burial sites, one from 2,000 years ago and one from 5,000 years ago.
The rich soil of the region was farmed as early as neolithic times and up to the bronze age.
Naglik, who recently published the results of the research in Szarbia, told PAP: “Our special attention was drawn to the extensive kurgan, which was located within the younger necropolis. A representative of the local elite was buried in it.”
The monumental tomb had a diameter of 17 meters and was surrounded by a trench, separating it from the rest of the necropolis.
According to Naglik, similar structures appeared in Central Europe in the early Roman period (about 2,000 years ago). However, there weren’t many of them.
The mysterious prince, although in fact he was not a member of royalty, but a local elite, was about 20-30 years old and massively built, according to the preserved bones. Unlike the other burials around it, the body wasn’t burnt.
Unfortunately, the kurgan was robbed and destroyed possibly only decades after its constructions. Only some of its riches have survived.
Among them were shears, a needle, a knife, elements of the prince’s clothing, such as fragments of a belt with a buckle styled in Roman way (they could have possibly came from there).
Naglik pointed out, that the shears weren’t iron, as is usually the case in graves from that period, but bronze.
"Bronze wasn’t better than iron. It didn’t increase their effectiveness. It only indicated that the deceased could afford a tool from a more rare and valuable alloy," he explained. The metal could indicate, that the shears were used in a more ritualistic manner.
Another curious finding was a bear claw, possibly left from the entire fur on which the prince was placed.
"This finding contributed as one of the elements one of the discovered tomb’s reconstruction - the deceased lies on the bear's skin,” Naglik added.