Island grave reveals 1,000-year-old treasure trove of ‘elite’ jewellery including a solid amber ring
A 1,000 year old treasure trove of items thought to have belonged to a wealthy member of the Pomeranian elite have been uncovered during an archaeological excavation of a grave on a remote island in Northern Poland.
The two amber rings, a bronze bowl, an iron knife in a leather holder and bronze buckles were found in the grave of a man near the village of Ostrowite, who lived between the 11th and 12th century.
Archaeologists decided to start a dig at the site of the grave after the fragments of bronze bowls were discovered at the same location by medal detecting teams in previous years.
The grave, which has been identified as an elite grave, differs from those discovered nearby due to its size and the expensive items with which it was furnished.
Dig leader Dr Jerzy Sikora from the University of Łódź told Science in Poland: “The deceased was most likely a representative of one of the local Pomeranian elites.
“What is remarkable is the fact that there are two almost identical rings symmetrically located in relation to the axis of the body.
“And added to that, they are from amber. The situation is unique. I don’t know of any similar burials.”
The dead man was also placed in a grave chamber made of wood and resembling a large chest or small house. Associated with the early middle ages, these type of burials are referred to by archaeologists as chamber burials.
At the foot of the man’s body archaeologists found a bronze bowl with fragments of wood inside, most likely from the lid of the coffin which fell in slightly over time. He also had a knife in a leather pouch, with bronze framing and two pieces of coins.
Fragments of material found on the surface of the bowl will be subjected to specialist analysis to determine their origin.
According to Dr Sikora, it is not possible to definitively say whether the residents of the area were already being influenced by the developing Piast dynasty due to a lack of written sources from the period.
He said: “Ostrowite, where the newest discovery was made, was an important, but local centre of rule, which functioned from the 11th to the 14th century.
“It was quite a developed residential complex with a settlement on a nearby island, which, at least until around 1160, was joined together with the bank with the help of a wooden bridge, but it is almost certain that it was already functioning earlier.”