Lusatian Culture: Ancient Traders Of Central Europe Built Strongly Fortified Settlements To Withstand Scythian Attacks

A. Sutherland  - AncientPages.com - Lusatian culture dates back to the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age (14th-4th century BC), occupying the broadest range of central Europe.

Lusatian Culture

This culture covered almost the entire territory of the Polish lands, central and northwestern Slovakia and Moravia, northern and northeastern Bohemia, Saxony, Lusatia, eastern Thuringia and eastern Brandenburg in central-eastern Germany, east Pomerania, it reached as far as the western part of Volhynia, (a historical region of northwestern Ukraine).

In the Bronze Age, the central European Lusatian (Lausitz) culture-expanded around 1200 BC and persisted in the first centuries of the Early Iron Age.

Economy Of Lusatian People

The Lusatian economy varied depending on the area. The people were occupied with cultivation and animal husbandry (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, dogs). Plants cultivated by the then population on a large scale were mainly wheat, barley, millet, rye, legumes, and oilseeds.

Other productive plants to grow included beans, peas, and lentils, as well as flax and poppy. Additionally, traces of domesticated pears, plums, and apples, were found. Among soil cultivation tools were horn diggers, hoe made of animal antler fragments, seedlings as well as wood- made trowels.

The household included, bone, wood, clay, antler, flint, stone, ceramic, weaving, and fiber processing, and later also bronze foundry, the beginnings of iron processing are distinguished, as well as pottery, weaving, bone and horn processing, as well as carpentry.

Lusatian Pottery

The Lusatians developed communication (two- and four-wheeled carts, and boats), and trade that played an important role: all metallurgical manufacturing was probably based on the imported raw material.

Amber And Metal Trade Despite Danger From Scythian Attacks

The period of Scythian expansion from the Black Sea area into central Europe dates back to c.800 BC - 600 BC; however, between 500 BC-350 BC, many of Scythian incursions took place, in the northern part of central Europe. These attacks ceased from the fourth century BC.

Despite the danger, the amber trade still flourished and the Lusatians continued to be successful mediators between the amber gatherers and the Hallstatt culture (1200 BC – 500 BC) in the eastern Alpine area and, the Etruscans in Italy in the beginning in the seventh century.

Lusatian Pottery

Innovations such as bronze horse-gear comprising bridle-bits, cheek-pieces, and ornamental plates, as well as the first iron objects, spread to the Baltic area by the Lusatians. Metal finds from the seventh and sixth centuries BC revealed in Pomerania, East Prussia, and western Lithuania attest to continuing contacts with the Lusatians in central Europe and the Germanic peoples.

Lusatian Settlements And Burial Tradition

The Lusatians built different settlements, including extensive, long-lasting open settlements, and small seasonal settlements, in the central and western areas of the near town.

Lusatian culture

Known settlements include stronghold at Biskupin in Poland, and Buch near Berlin, Germany. They had both open villages and fortified settlements (burgwall or grod) located in marshy areas or on hilltops. The ramparts were constructed of wooden boxes filled with soil or stones.

The Urnfield culture (c. 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe. The Lusatians highly respected the Urnfield tradition (c 1300 BC – 750 BC), according to which, the dead were cremated; their remains were placed in urns and put into the burial pit together with dishes in which food and drinks were offered to the deceased.

Archaeological excavations of the graves revealed garment decorations such as clasps, pins, bracelets, etc. made mainly of bronze, as well as other everyday items. The culture buried the deceased on flat, extensive cemeteries, and the cremation burials were often accompanied by numerous secondary pottery vessels as well as bronze tools, weapons, and ornaments.

Biskupin

Lusatian cemeteries reveal significant variations regarding the number of graves. The smallest cemetery contained only two graves, the largest over eighteen hundred. But the majority ranged from scores of tombs to several hundred.

One of the well-known Lusatian cult centers was Mount Sleza, in southern Poland. During the Neolithic Period and at least as far back as the 7th century BC, Mount Sleza was a holy place highly revered by the Lusatian people.

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“The ossuary was covered with an inverted dish and frequently put into another bigger pot along with accessory vases. In the better-preserved and well-excavated Lusatian cemeteries, low barrows were found above the graves, some less than 1 meter, some reaching up to 1.5 m, but usually of the same height as the pile of stone, which covered the grave in the middle of the barrow. The barrow was encircled by a ring of stones built in several rows; on top of the barrow stood a tall pointed tombstone.

Such classical Lusatian barrows have been discovered in Saxony. In other cemeteries, cairns were found above the graves, but the low earthen barrows must have disappeared over the intervening eras…” 1

Pottery, Weapons And Jewelry Of Lusatians

Ceramics of the Lusatian culture is characterized by a large variety of forms, tumor ornaments.

The Lusatian cemetery of the Lusatian culture community from the end of the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. (Remains from over 2,500 years ago, unearthed during excavations in Legów near Wagrowiec (Greater Poland Voivodeship). The cemetery of the Lusatian culture community from the end of the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. (Remains from over 2,500 years ago, unearthed during excavations in Legów near Wagrowiec (Greater Poland Voivodeship). Image credit: naukawpolsce.pap.pl

The pottery was also very well burned out. Later, a large variety of decorations appeared with painted, geometric motifs, usually yellow, brown or red.

See also: More About History

Clay pots and hand-glued objects were unearthed in large quantities and in many forms. In the oldest phase, the Lusatian vessels were decorated with extruded tumors, later two-conical, sharply profiled, and in the early Iron Age amphoras appeared with a bloated belly, narrowing neck, and most often decorated with engravings (also zoo- and anthropomorphic), occasionally with narrative scenes. Metal objects (axes, sickles, knives), weapons (swords, daggers, spearheads, and arrows), decorations (necklaces, bracelets, earrings) produced by this ancient culture (or imported) systematically change over time.

The Collapse Of Lusatian Culture

Many Scythian arrowheads have been found in Lusatian strongholds, indicating that the eastern aggressors continuously attacked the settlements. The Lusatian strongholds were now in their last stages of survival. Eventually, the culture was devastated and collapsed as a result of both Scythian invasions and the Germanic expansion.

Written by – A. Sutherland  - AncientPages.com Senior Staff Writer

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References:

Malinowski, Tadeusz. "FUNERAL CUSTOMS OF THE BRONZE AND IRON AGES IN POLAND." Archaeology, 16, no. 3 (1963): 183-86.

  1. Marija Gimbutas, Bronze Age cultures in Central and Eastern Europe

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