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Poprad Matejovce: Laboratory research of in situ blocks with organic materials from the Early Migration Period chieftain’s grave

Dr. Tereza Štolcová

During the archaeological research in 2006, in situ blocks of various sizes were removed from the site and transported to Schloß Gottorf. About 24 in situ blocks containing soil and various organic objects like leather, textiles, bast or wooden parts of furniture have been kept frozen at -20°C to prevent any decay and degradation processes. The aim is to excavate and document the blocks under the laboratory conditions as they hide valuable information about perishable materials in the grave, which usually do not preserve at all. The laboratory works have begun in 2008 within the frame of the European project “DressID – Clothing and Identities. New Perspectives on Textiles in the Roman Empire” and were held under the guidance of Dipl. Rest. Gabriele Zink from ALM Schloß Gottorf.

Laborarbeit Poprad-Projekt

In the year 2010 the examination of the floor of inner chamber grave has started. The floor consists of seven 1,5 m long wooden planks, from which four were removed together as one block. For such large objects, which have to be kept in cool and wet conditions, a specialised laboratory has been built. The processing of three planks of the inner floor proved that textiles were scattered in many layers, though they were the least preserved organic finds within the grave, whilst the wooden parts of furniture and leather fragments were in a stable condition. However, it was possible to determine different weave types like tabby, twill or tablet-woven textiles as well as remains of golden threads or possible golden embroidery. So far, all of textiles appear to be woollen. Majority of leather pieces consists of loops, trefoils or different ornamental stripes with stitches, which leads us to the assumption that they were applied to another underlying material. Apart from that, many complete and very well preserved hazelnuts were scattered there, as well as dislocated human bones and last but not least parts of wooden furniture turned on lathe or remains of basketry.

Poprad Kombi

The context of all the objects retrieved from in situ blocks points to the fact, that they are completely displaced by the process of robbery, what brings difficulties not only in reconstruction of the clothing of the deceased but also in drawing the general picture of the grave before the robbery. Therefore, the excavation of in situ blocks is followed by a precise graphical documentation, which is later connected to GIS (Karin Göbel, ZBSA). Samples for further analyses are taken out: e.g. strontium isotope analysis, amino-acid analysis, colours and dyes or identification of fibres in the scanning electron microscope, etc. After retrieval of the various objects, the furniture parts are processed at wood conservation (Roland Aniol, Wolfgang Schröder, ALM), leather and textile pieces are prepared for further restoration at textile and leather conservation workshop (Gabriele Zink, ALM). Other small finds will be processed by various specialists included in a Poprad project.

Haselnüsse Poprad

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