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Bronze jewelry discovered in Polish lake could reveal details about ancient ritualistic water burials

The discovery of bronze jewelry in a dried-up lake in Poland could be pivotal in furthering our understanding of an ancient Celtic ritual.

Bronze jewelry discovered in Polish lake could reveal details about ancient ritualistic water burials
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | ROMAN ODINTSOV; Cambridge University Press

The Chełmno land in north-central Poland used to be home to one of the northernmost communities of the Lusatian culture, which was part of an archaeological culture of the North European Bronze Age, continuing into the Urnfield culture. Initial studies about the Chełmno people hinted that they were not influenced or affected by the social and economic changes that the Urnfield period witnessed, according to the study published on the Cambridge University Press website. However, these assumptions were challenged in 2023 when metal detectorists working with the Kujawsko-Pomorska Grupa Poszukiwaczy Historii found metal deposits in a dried-up lake located in Papowo Biskupie.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | MARIA VICTORIA ECKELL
Representative Image Source: Pexels | MARIA VICTORIA ECKELL

When they further excavated the area, more than 550 bronze artifacts, human bones and archaeological material were discovered. These findings suggest that the people at the location had elaborate rituals. Most of the bronze artifacts consisted of ornaments that would be worn around the arm and neck, along with other female-gendered objects. The research team utilized remote sensing, which showed that there were many non-ferrous signals at the site, which could mean more metalwork is yet to be found.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kelly
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kelly

Along with the bronze remains, the team also found the skeletal remains of 33 humans. Most of these remains were concluded to be of infants, children, adolescents and adults. Although, the skeletal remains of adults were of those who were younger than 50. This evidence suggests that sacrificial practices were most likely done at the site. The authors concluded the study by adding that Papowo Biskupie opens a fresh window for studying the social and ritual practices of the Lusatian era in Poland and further reveals the possibility of offering a better understanding of the intricate interplay between the residues they've found and human sacrifice in the place.


Two months back, a team of researchers made a shocking discovery while they were on a dig in Southern Spain. Scholar Manuel Roso de Luna discovered a slab of stone with engravings, which was surrounded by carvings of a spear, a brooch, a sword, a chariot and a mirror. It was the first time a tombstone from 2000 B.C. was found on the Iberian Peninsula. Currently, researchers have uncovered more than 300 such sites in Spain and Portugal.

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The recent dig of a stela in Southern Spain proved shocking because of how it challenged gender stereotypes. The 3000-year-old necropolis had funerary monuments of different types and helped the universities of Durham, Seville, Huelva and Southampton increase their knowledge about stelae. As per El Pais, the stela "throws into question previous interpretations of the gender of the figures represented in the stone slabs, since those with motifs around the head of the figure had traditionally led to interpreting the figure as female, while thus one clearly shows male genitalia."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Piotr Arnoldes
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Piotr Arnoldes

Durham University in the United Kingdom put out a statement that the stela showcased "a human figure with a detailed face, hands and feet, a headdress, necklace, two swords and male genitals. Before this discovery, archaeologists had interpreted features such as a headdress and necklace on a stela as representing a female form, while the inclusion of weaponry such as swords would be interpreted as male 'warrior' stelae." The discovery challenged all these assumptions with them concluding that "the social roles depicted by these carvings were more fluid than previously thought and not restricted to a specific gender."

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