|dc.description.abstract||We are pleased to present the first volume of a new book series entitled Monographs in Early Medieval Studies. Our intention is that this and subsequent publications, which are aimed to examine a broad range of topics related to the Early Middle Ages, will be made available under Creative Commons licence to enable easier access to the presented issues and facilitate the exchange of knowledge. We invite you to read the book and to download it in PDF format at www.projektyarcheologiczne.pl or www.fundacjalunula.pl.
Mozów, site 23 is located in the Lubuskie Province, about 3 km west of Sulechów. It is situated on the slope of a small hill, between a railway line (Sulechów-Czerwieńsk) and county road 278.
Archaeological excavations were carried out at this site in 2009 in connection with the planned construction of expressway S3. The research was conducted by the Foundation of the University of Łódź under the direction of dr Seweryn Rzepecki.
The excavations covered a total area of 186.35 ares divided into five major sectors (hectares) within which 233 features were registered. Cultural attribution was determined for 109 features containing mostly potsherds. Archaeological sources recorded during the research included the material dating to the Stone Age (unspecified chronology), the Neolithic (including the Linear Pottery and the Funnel Beaker cultures), the Jastorf culture and the Roman Influence period (mixed elements of the Wielbark and Pomeranian cultures), as well as the older phases of the Early Middle Ages and the Post Medieval period.
The publication presents the results of research on the archaeological material dating to the Early Medieval period. They are discussed against a wider background of Mozów-Sulechów microregion including several large settlements and less recognised settlement points. Apart from description and analysis of archaeological sources (mainly pottery and remains of building structures at Mozów, site 23), the monograph focuses on issues related to the reconstruction of the natural environment.
The studies on the most abundant archaeological material – pottery, as well as thermoluminescence and radiocarbon dating analyses were carried out within the framework of the project Interdisciplinary research on the early medieval pottery workshop (7-10 c.) in the borderland of Lower Silesia - Great Poland - Lusatia financed by the National Science Centre (agreement no. UMO-2012/05/N/HS3/01425).
In the publication the emphasis is placed on the reconstruction of the natural environment. The detailed geomorphological and palynological analyses, as well as the examination of quality and suitability of soils for plant cultivation have revealed that geological structure and varied lithology of the Quaternary formations characteristic of the area adjacent to Mozów, site 23 can be regarded as advantages in terms of agriculture. Large sandy surfaces covered by light soils are easy to work even with simple farming tools, enabling manual (hoe-based) cultivation of land, as well as agriculture using draft animals (with ards and more durable ploughs). It can be assumed that drought or excessively wet periods did not pose larger threat for the crops. The immediate surroundings of the site offered access to various environments, including moist soils located in alluvial-filled depressions or at the edges of wetlands, as well as dry ones, occurring at elevations of the fluvioglacial plain and on dunes. On the other hand, glacial till present on the surface of the area north of the site posed a substantial obstacle for cultivation.
The area surrounding the site was characterised by a variety of soils. In the organically enriched alluvial deposits, or along the edges of wetlands developed alluvial and semi-hydrogenic or hydrogenic soils (i.a. peat and muck soils). Given the continued high levels of moisture some of these soils were probably unsuitable for ploughing; instead they may have been used in horticulture, or after appropriate adjustments, as meadows and pastures. On the moraine plateau predominated autogenic soils (brown earths and podzols). However, due to their heavy structure and skeletal character the cultivation required using strong draft animals and iron farming tools of reinforced construction.
Potential sources of water supply included small lakes located on the plateau north of the site, a watercourse at the foot of the slope, and probably also springs occurring in cuts of sandy soil series in the lower part of the slope or in small denudation valleys. It is noteworthy that springs, unlike running or standing water, do not freeze during cold winters because the temperature of groundwater is generally similar to the average annual air temperature in the area. Thus, springs could be a stable water supply available throughout the year, e.g. for watering livestock. In the distance of several kilometres from the site no larger lakes occurred, which, however, did not create a barrier to colonization of the area. A significant factor influencing prehistoric occupation at Mozów site may have been the proximity of the Odra valley, which - as a communication route - enabled contact with other communities or migration.
The investigated area was characterized by a great diversity of vegetation. Wetlands were occupied by riparian forests, and in some places by alder forests or small grass communities. The slopes and the moraine plateau were covered by beech forests with admixture of other tree species, while dry sandy hills were grown by coniferous forests. Woodlands provided building and fuel material, and after some adaptation (burning the forest floor and undergrowth) they were used as areas of less intensive grazing, hunting and gathering.
Nutritional needs of the community were met in a variety of ways, combining the use of products derived from crops and livestock, wild plants and possibly wild animals. Excavations carried out at Mozów, site 23 and at other settlements dating to the seventh and eighth centuries have not yielded many faunal remains. Few finds of animal bones, mostly cattle and small ruminants, only confirm the results of pollen analysis indicating the presence of open plant communities which were used as pastures. In the sediments of the discussed layer dating to the beginnings of the Middle Ages disappear heather Calluna vulgaris and common bracken Pteridiumaqilinum, which are the species characteristic mostly of forest communities and peat lands. In addition, after a long absence returns the occurrence of sorrel pollen grains Rumex, typeacetosa/acetosella, the plant associated with grazing. Slightly later appears plantain Plantagolanceolata, which is the indicator of a similar value. Furthermore, the sediments dating to the beginning of the early medieval phase contained rye pollen grains Secale and a single pollen of other grains cerealia, as well as nitrophilous ruderal plants of the goosefoot family Chenopodiaceae. The period after the probable time of functioning of Mozów settlement is characterised by the occurrence of stronger indicators of anthropogenic impact, including mugwort Artemisia, nettle Urtica, or weeds of cereal crops - cornflower Centaureacyanus. Their presence is probably related to younger settlement dated from the ninth to the tenth century, represented by numerous remains recovered in the area of Sulechów and the village of Kije (where two strongholds dated to the same period existed at that time), or at Zawady, site 1.
The occurrence of pollen grains and weeds is the direct evidence of human activity. Although few in number, they point towards people’s presence and penetration of surrounding areas. The transformations described above, as well as the changes in the proportion of particular ecosystems indicate the initial phase of anthropogenic impact on the environment, the process which continues uninterrupted until today.
The settlement discovered at Mozów, site 23 is one of the most comprehensively excavated remains of occupation from the older phases of the Early Middle Ages in the Middle Odra region. In the studied period also two other settlements functioned in Mozów-Sulechów microregion: Sulechów, site 14, which was similar in size to Mozów, site 23, and a slightly smaller one, known as Sulechów, site 10. A relatively high density of occupation indicates that the second half of the seventh century at the latest was already the period of stable settlement structures of a permanent character in the region.
Further development of this and other similar settlement clusters in the area enabled probably the emergence in the second half of the ninth century of many heavily fortified strongholds which served the role of central points for small tribal communities.
The study of the early medieval site at Mozów has provided new data on possible ways of the organization of space within the settlement in the older phases of the Early Middle Ages. Spatial structure of the site, reconstructed on the basis of recovered relics, was strongly influenced by local topography, which has analogies in other nearby well recognized settlements, e.g. Sulechów, site 10 or Jordanowo, site 7.
The discovered remnants of buildings are typical of the northern zone of development of Slavic (so called Sukow) culture. They included predominantly bath-shaped features, which were probably the remains of sunken parts of larger ground-level buildings. The excavations did not reveal the relics that would provide more detailed information on the methods of building construction. We can only assume that some of dwellings were erected with the use of lightweight wattle or post-based structures.
The most numerous artefacts recovered during excavations were potsherds. In terms of style they refer mostly to Suków-Dziedzice group, and in single cases to undecorated pottery of Feldberg type (Kędrzyno variety).
The major trait that allows to associate a small number of finds from Mozów with undecorated Kędrzyno vessels is a characteristic way of rim treatment which involves its thickening and distinguishing from the wall by means of an encircling undercut. Potsherds with rims of this shape were recovered from features: B4, B34, B92 and B129. They co-occurred with both decorated and undecorated vessels of Suków-Dziecice type.
According to Edward Dąbrowski, who first drew attention to this characteristic trait of vessels occurring within a limited area of northern part of present day Lubuskie Province, the origins of such rim forms should be sought among some vessels of Dobrodzień group (grupa dobrodzieńska) dating to the Late Roman Influence period.
The settlement microregion of Sulechów-Mozów is defined as the southern boundary of the area characterised by more frequent occurrence of vessels with the aforementioned rims. Apart from Mozów, analogous forms were discovered at Kalsk, site 1 and Sulechów, site 25. In all the above cases they were represented by undecorated vessels made without the use of a potter’s wheel.
The present study has revealed that the vessels with undercut rims do not form a homogenous technological-stylistic-chronological group. The older items, dating from the sixth to the seventh century were made without the use of a potter’s wheel; they were characterised by undercuts executed in a careless manner and simple forms of rims with mostly semi-oval or flattened tops. Younger vessels of this group, which are dated predominantly to the eighth century are already the forms finished on a potter’s wheel, usually thin-walled, with a clearly marked groove (undercut) placed immediately below the rim. The rims are often strongly profiled, well elaborated and some of them give impression of having been made with a template.
In the area of Sulechów the forms with undercut rims disappear during the eighth century. Instead, already in the beginning of that century emerge undecorated vessels ended with edges modelled from the inside, which resemble distinctly the younger examples of rims with indentation for a lid. A few forms of this kind were recovered also at Mozów, site 23, e.g. in features: B26, B92, B200, however, they occurred more often in the assemblages dating only from the second half of the eighth century (e.g. at Gościkowo, site 5), and especially from the ninth century (e.g. at the settlement of Sulechów, site 28, where they are linked with the influences from the area of Lower Silesia). According to Paweł Pawlak vessels of this type, which are known also from Myszęcin, site 19 (dating from the half of the eighth to the ninth century), represent transitional forms between Sukow and Feldberg style, or are the signs of foreign cultural influences in the local pottery production.
In the eighth and ninth centuries, when the use of a potter’s wheel in the production of vessels becomes widespread, the characteristic forms of rims include those modelled from the inside with deep encircling grooves (in some cases even triple ones). It seems that such a rim shape was not an unintended consequence of fast rotation of a potter’s wheel, but rather the result of a purposeful fashioning made perhaps with a comb or other toothed tool. This trait is characteristic of numerous vessels from the sites located particularly in the area defining the southern boundary of the prior occurrence of vessels with undercut rims. Such forms were recorded, i.a. at the stronghold of Gostchorze, site 1, at Tarnawa Rzepińska, site 1, in the layer dating to the end of the eighth and the beginning of the ninth century at Krosno Odrzańskie, site 1, among pottery assemblages of the stronghold at Kije, site 1, at Smolno Wielkie, site 1, at the settlement dating to the eighth century at Kalsk, site 4, among pottery finds from the probable stronghold at Górzykowo, site 1, and in the layers from the second phase of the stronghold at Połupin, site 2 dating (according to the recent study) to the first half of the eighth century at the earliest. Rims with similar profiles were found also at the settlement of Letnica, site 13, where occurred also forms decorated with elaborate comb patterns. It should be noted that rims shaped in this way were not recorded in pottery assemblages from the site at Mozów.
Establishing the chronology of vessels recovered from the site at Mozów, and, accordingly, the dating of the settlement, is not an easy task. The difficulties arise from the fact that pottery from the older phases of the Early Middle Ages lacks sufficiently sensitive chronological characteristics. Until the end of the eighth century the vessel assemblages found in the Middle Odra region consisted predominantly of undecorated forms, which until approximately half of the eighth century were produced mostly without the use of a potter’s wheel. For this reason it is difficult to determine a precise chronological framework of the vessels older than the ninth century only on the basis of formal-stylistic analysis. In the case of ceramic material from Mozów, given the small percentage of decorated forms and those made with a potter’s wheel (about 2%), we can assign terminus ante quem to the end of the eighth century.
An important chronological indicator for the pottery recovered at Mozów is the lack of forms with rims modelled from the inside with deep encircling grooves. As already mentioned this trait is characteristic of the vessels dating to the developed eighth century, and in particular, the ninth century.
Taking into account the chronological clues described above, the early medieval settlement horizon at Mozów should be associated with the seventh and eighth centuries. These relatively broad chronological framework can be narrowed with the help of comparative analysis involving chronologically well-defined vessel assemblages from other sites, as well as by thermoluminescence dates obtained for over a dozen potsherds from Mozów settlement .
Numerous formal and stylistic analogies can be found in pottery assemblages from Sulechów, site 14 and the settlement from the first phase of occupation at Sulechów, site 10. In the case of site 14, the results of AMS radiocarbon dating have clarified the earlier assumptions concerning periodization based on the analysis of archaeological sources. Currently the chronological framework of this settlement is established for the period from the second half of the seventh century to the third quarter of the eighth century. The results of radiocarbon dating and dendrochronological analysis have also confirmed the chronology of the first phase of occupation at Sulechów, site 10 placing it within the period from the end of the seventh century to the end of the eighth or to the beginning of the ninth century.
The radiocarbon dates obtained for the material recovered from the discussed sites at Sulechów fully correspond with the results of thermoluminescence (further called TL) dating of 15 potsherds from the settlement at Mozów, which narrows the chronology of pottery production at the latter site to the period from the second half of the seventh century to the first decade of the eighth century. The TL analysis was performed on vessels recovered from six features located in different parts of the settlement. However, the obtained results do not provide sufficient data to define more detailed intervals (settlement phases) of the studied site. We can only assume that the results of TL analysis allow the possibility that the oldest phase of the settlement, dating to the second half of the seventh century, is represented by six potsherds recovered from features B29 and B129. The youngest of these pottery pieces can be dated to the fourth quarter of the seventh century. The latest remains of the settlement, in turn, are possibly represented by the features which contained pottery manufactured in the first decade or, more generally, in the first half of the eighth century (e.g. features B102, B182, B200). It is worth noting that pottery assemblages of both older and younger chronology do not differ in terms of style, technology, or form.
The comparison of vessel assemblages including particularly those recovered from Mozów, site 23 and Sulechów, site 14 has shown some common characteristics with regard to their style, form and technology. In the case of both settlements the proportion of decorated potsherds was not higher than 2%, while the frequency of vessels made with the use of a potter’s wheel did not exceed 1% at Mozów, site 23 and approximately 10% at Sulechów, site 14. In slightly younger assemblages recovered from the settlement at Sulechów, site 10 the proportion of undecorated vessels was similar and amounted to less than 1%, however, the quantity of pieces made with the use of a potter’s wheel in the first phase of occupation was already 64%. These data point to the conclusion that during the eighth century in the studied area the technology of pottery production underwent significant transformations associated mainly with the introduction of the potter’s wheel. Other stylistic, formal and technological characteristics, however, remained largely unchanged. It is noteworthy that also in the case of ceramic assemblages from other nearby settlements the percentage of vessels finished on a potter’s wheel increased rapidly in the eighth century (e.g. at Grodziszcze, site 9 the frequency of such vessels was approximately 70%). The proportion reversed entirely in the ninth century, when the forms made without the use of a potter’s wheel accounted for about 1-5% (e.g. Sulechów, site 28).
Translated by Agata Drejer-Kowalska||en