GRAVE FROM GNATY-LEWISKI. CONTRIBUTION TO RESEARCH ON EARLY MEDIEVAL INHUMATION CEMETERIES IN MASOVIA (Grób z miejscowosci Gnaty-Lewiski. Przyczynek do badan wczesnosredniowiecznych cmentarzysk szkieletowych na Mazowszu)
In 2006, human skeletal remains were found loose in a sand excavation pit in the vicinity of an archaeological site. Salvage excavations in 2007 uncovered a grave pit containing the lower half of a skeleton of a young woman. A skull was found loose in the sand next to the grave. The orientation of the skeleton was to the northwest and the age was estimated anthropologically at 18-21 years. A silver ring was recorded on one of the digits of the hand. Traces of green discoloration on the skull suggested the presence of copper-alloy head ornaments. An assemblage of 40 potsherds, including 6 prehistoric pieces, 16 of Early Medieval date and 18 fragments of wheel-made pots, mostly of 15th-16th c. date (but also later), was recovered also. The grave must be considered as part of an Early Medieval inhumation cemetery. Hoewver, the finds are inconclusive as evidence for the existence of a prehistoric cremation burial ground, because cremation was the preferred form of burial from the Early Iron age to the earliest phases of the Middle Ages. The grave is dated from the middle of the 11th to the first half of the 13th c. The foundation of a parish church in nearby Winnica is dated to the first half of the 13th c.; from that date on presumably the knightly classes from the area would have buried their dead there. The silver ring is not helpful in precise dating of the grave, as similar jewelry from the region of the northwestern Slavs is attributed from the end of the 10th through the 13th c. The Early Medieval pottery from the vicinity of the grave is also dated broadly from the first half of the 10th through the 13th c. The grave belongs to one of four Early Medieval inhumation cemeteries excavated in the southern parts of the Ciechanów Upland. Data for altogether 15 church cemeteries and non-church cemeteries has been collected in the region. The number of inhumation burials here is considerably less than in the neighboring Plonsk Upland and partly the Raciaz Plain to the west, and the northern part of the Ciechanów Upland where a concentration of cemeteries with stone settings has been recorded. In the southern part of the Ciechanów Upland, there existed four cemeteries with stone settings. Burial grounds with graves of unknown type were situated at four other sites distanced from 6 km to 19 km. The discussed grave was situated about 10 km from the Nasielsk stronghold and about 13 km from the Castle Hill in Pultusk. It remains to be ascertained which settlements the Gnaty-Lewiski cemetery serviced. Ground surveys in the region have yielded only one trace of settlement in the Early Medieval period, located 2 km from the said cemetery. The discovery of the grave places in an interesting light the issue of the continuity of knightly settlement from the times of the Piast rulers through the Modern Age. Masovia is characterized by the presence of cemeteries with rich graves with stone settings, it was densely populated by members of the lesser knighthood, later minor gentry, especially of the poorer sort. Archeology, history and anthropology still have a place in the study of the Early Medieval inhumation cemeteries in Masovia. Figs 7.
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