Cemetery of the Lusatian culture, Częstochowa
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Cemetery of the Lusatian culture

Częstochowa

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The cemetery in Częstochowa-Raków was used by the people of the so-called Lusatian culture at the beginning of the Early Iron Age, i.e. circa 750-550 BC. The cemetery is one of the oldest prehistoric burial sites discovered and studied by means of excavations in the Silesian Voivodeship, and the “Archaeological Reserve” that was created here includes a reconstructed part of the ancient cemetery. In fact, it is the only archeological site structure of this type in Poland.

Location and description

The cemetery is located in Częstochowa-Raków, directly at Pokoju Avenue, between B. Leśmiana Street and W. Łukasińskiego Street, about 630 m to the west of the Warta River. The Archaeological Reserve, Branch of the Częstochowa Museum, is located at Łukasińskiego Street 20.

85 graves were identified at this site, including 44 natural burial graves and 25 pit graves containing only ashes, so without urns. It should be emphasised that bi-ritualism, i.e. the use of both inhumation and cremation, distinguished the Upper Silesia-Lesser Poland Group from the other groups of the Lusatian culture. Many graves in the Częstochowa-Raków cemetery were accompanied by stone structures in the form of fencing or stones covering the graves. In the natural burial graves, the bodies were placed in the extended position, approximately on the north-south axis, with the head oriented towards the south. The artefacts found in the graves included bronze and iron jewellery (e.g. necklaces, bracelets, greaves, hairpins, and chaplets), tools (e.g. knives, sickles), and weapons (spear heads and arrow heads). The graves also contained various clay vessels, which most likely contained food and drink.

History

The site was discovered incidentally in 1955, during the construction of an overpass by Pokoju Avenue, and it was then that the first archaeological excavations, led by Adam Krauss, were undertaken. In the years 1960-1961, Włodzimierz Błaszczyk carried out the main series of excavation works at this site, and a project to create an “archeological reserve” and an exhibition centre — in which part of the cemetery is currently displayed — was developed.

Archaeologists date the burial site in Częstochowa-Raków at the Early Iron Age, i.e. circa 750-550 BC. The cemetery was used by the people of the Lusatian culture, who are classified as belonging to the so-called Upper Silesia-Lesser Poland group and the Częstochowa-Gliwice subgroup.

It is worth adding that the maximum period of existence of the Lusatian culture falls between c. 1350 and c. 400 BC. This cultural unit is classified as belonging to the so-called Urnfield culture, which derives its name from its characteristic burial rite. The dead were cremated and their ashes were placed in clay urns (called popielnice, i.e. ash vessels) which were then buried in graves. Burial sites were often large (containing even several thousand graves) and used for a long time. Hence, it needs to be pointed out that the site described here is not a typical cemetery of the Lusatian culture, which reflects the individual, Upper Silesia-Lesser Poland character of this area.

Currently, the part of the site in which excavations were conducted is occupied by the Archaeological Reserve, Branch of the Częstochowa Museum. The exhibition centre provides information about the history of the archeological site and the Lusatian culture and houses original grave elements and movable artefacts — grave goods.

Condition and results of archaeological research

It needs to be added that the excavations were not conducted over the whole area covered by the burial site. Some of the graves were also destroyed during various construction works, including those by Pokoju Avenue.

The site is accessible all year round. The Archaeological Reserve is a branch of the Częstochowa Museum and the opening times can be looked up on the website of this institution.

compiled by Michał Bugaj, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 05.11.2014.

Bibliography

  • Blajer W., Epoka brązu i okres halsztacki, [w:] Tomczak E. (red.), Archeologia Górny Śląsk, Katowice 2013.
  • Gedl M., Kultura łużycka na Górnym Śląsku, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1962.
  • Kostrzewski J., Pradzieje Śląska, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1970.

General information

  • Type: cemetery
  • Chronology: 750 - 550 r. p.n.e.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Częstochowa
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Częstochowa, commune Częstochowa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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