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The princely graves at Lübsow and their settlement-archaeology context

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Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt

Over an extended period at the beginning of the 20th century, a total of six graves were found in the district of Lübsow (today Lubieszewo, pow.Gryfice, woj. zachodniopomorskie in Poland). Three were found at ‘Sandberg’ and three at neighbouring ‘Tunnehult’: the ‘Sandberg’ burials have been dated to the 1st century AD; those at ‘Tunnehult’ to the 2nd century AD. Certain structural features of the graves could be partially reconstructed. These, together with the exceptional grave goods, leave no doubt that these graves can be interpreted as the final resting places of an elite group of people. The site has therefore given its name to princely graves of the early imperial Roman period in northern and central Europe, which are now known as ‘princely graves of the Lübsow type’.

Over the last few years, Professor Jan Schuster of Lódź University has actively investigated both princely-grave sites. The results of the modern follow-up excavations, together with a presentation of the whole find inventory and its archaeological and historical analysis are the subject of a comprehensive monograph.

Now that the burials have been thoroughly and scientifically examined, the next step is to consider how these two princely-grave sites fit in the pattern observed at other sites of the early imperial Roman period. In order to build up a data base for this purpose, further fieldwork using modern recording methods is planned. These include taking systematic samples from a wide area for phosphate analysis, a geomagnetic survey and large scale investigations with metal detectors as well as an aerial survey of the countryside with airborne laser-scanning systems (LIDAR). The combination of these analytical methods will make it possible to determine suitable areas for targeted archaeological excavations.

Tunnehult, Lübsow

Fieldwork started in the week of September 20-25, 2010. Extensive fieldwalking between the Lübsow/Sandberg and Lübsow/Tunnehult sites was undertaken by Professor Schuster and 18 students from Lódź University. In addition, during the same week, the ‘Tunnehult 1’ burial mound, which had been cut into during earlier excavations in 2006, was returned to its approximate original condition by clearing the old spoil heaps. The fieldwalking covered almost the whole of the potential settlement area in Lübsow/Lubieszewo district, i.e. about 140 hectares. In the process, pottery sherds and stone tools were found in various areas and interpreted as a sign of settlement activity in the Roman Iron Age. A more precise chronological classification can probably be expected from the on-going cataloguing of the finds and from the drawings and photographic documentation.

Geländebegehung Lübsow

Future evaluation of all the field data will be coordinated with the similarly organised investigations of the princely-grave site at Hoby/Lolland. It is hoped to publish the results of the project in the form of a monograph. An application will therefore be made to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation regarding an institutional partnership between Lódź University and the ZBSA in Schleswig as a basis for long-term cooperation.

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