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Personal ornaments and belt fittings dating to the early Roman Period found in the area of the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture (completed)

Agata Chilińska-Früboes M.A.

The project is a part of the larger project „Forschungskontinuität und Kontinuitätsforschung – Siedlungsarchäologische Grundlagenforschung zur Eisenzeit im Baltikum“. The aim is to prepare a PhD thesis concerning personal ornaments and belt fittings dating to the early Roman Period (1st–2nd cent. AD) found in the area of the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture, i.e. in the present Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia and in north-eastern Poland (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Map.

Fig. 1. The area of the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture in the late Roman Period (phase C2) – marked in red (after A. Bitner-Wróblewska, North-eastern Poland in first centuries AD – a world apart. In: U. Lund Hansen/A. Bitner-Wróblewska (eds)., Worlds Apart? Contacts across the Baltic Sea in the Iron Age, Network Denmark-Poland, 2005–2008, Nordiske Fortidsminder C/7 [København, Warszawa 2010] 141–184, fig. 5).

Analysed finds are numerous, due to the existence of the ancient so-called Amber Route. In the early Roman Period this route led from the Roman Provinces to the Samland Peninsula and further to western Lithuania. Amber was a luxury good in the Roman Empire and rich and easy to explore deposits of amber were located on Samland. That is the reason why the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture exchanged it for other goods, e.g. for glass beads. Thanks to these trade and cultural connections, ornaments and belt fittings dating to the early Roman Period discovered in Samland are diverse. The most common were: eye brooches, fibulae types 42 and 72 (Fig. 2B) according to the system of Oscar Almgren’s classification, neckrings with trumpet-shaped terminals, impressive necklaces, bracelets with profiled terminals and so-called ´samland belts´ with open-work parts.

Most of the finds analyzed in the project have been not published yet. There were found before the Second World War and until 1943 they were housed in the Prussia Museum in Königsberg. During the WWII this collection was torn apart and badly damaged. Nowadays some of those finds are kept in the Kaliningrad Regional Museum of History and Art (Калининградский областной историко-художественный музей), the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, SMB-PK in Berlin and in the Museum of Warmia and Masuria in Olsztyn (Muzeum Warmii i Mazur w Olsztynie). Unfortunately a lot of finds lost their original inventory cards, so the place of their discovery is currently unknown. Fortunately, find spots can be determined through archival research. Archives analyzed in the project are scattered all over Europe. The most important are located in: Kaliningrad, Berlin, Olsztyn, Schleswig, Tallinn, Riga, Uppsala, Stockholm and Warsaw. Working with all those files is very important, because information found in each of them is complementary.

The most important for the project is Herbert Jankuhn’s archive housed in the ALM in Schleswig. Jankuhn wrote his PhD thesis about Samland in the early Roman Period. His archive consists of several hundred papers with detailed descriptions of finds and their quite precise drawings (Fig. 2A). Thanks to the information collected by Jankuhn nowadays it is easy to determine places where finds which lost their original inventory cards were originally discovered (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

Fig. 2A. Paper from Herbert Jankuhn’s archive (ALM); 2B. Brooch from former Kirpehnen housed in the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, SMB-PK, Berlin, inv. no Pr. 3899, identified thanks to Herbert Jankuhn’s file.

The main aim of the project is to elaborate the chronological system of the early Roman Period of the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture, which could be used then to revise other chronological systems of the Baltic basin. Moreover cultural connections between Samland and other territories will be described. Finally it will be discussed whether the Dollkeim-Kovrovo Culture was homogeneous or whether it was a collection of several different cultural units.

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