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Archaeological excavations: unique data for the Baltic Odyssey project

At the end of August 2020, an archaeological expedition was completed by the forces of the Center for Archaeological Research of the IGN and organized by the department of the Department of Research of the IKBFU, within the framework of the project "Baltic Odyssey - Creation of a Common Historical and Cultural Space" (No. PR / 1/104/2018) of the Cross-Border Cooperation Programme Poland-Russia 2014-2020.

The purpose of archaeological research was to study the structure of ancient settlements, which were left by the population, which are the distant ancestors of the Prussians, and possibly some other peoples of the Baltic.

So far, these were exclusively exploratory work, which were carried out on a sandy hillock not far from the village of Shosseyny. During the research, it was possible to discover the cultural layers of hitherto unknown settlements, the oldest of which dates back to the Bronze Age.

As it turned out, the forgotten part of the region's territory actually keeps numerous traces of the life of people who lived in this place about three thousand years ago. The place where ancient settlements were discovered is a sandy hill, at the foot of which there is a swampy lowland. But in the distant past, a river flowed here, flowing into the bay. Only a small stream now remains of it. Inhabited in the II millennium BC. the banks of the river people, at least some of them, came from afar. This is indicated by the shape of the dishes, the fragments of which were found during the research. These are bowls, extremely similar to vessels of the very famous bell-beaker culture that existed in Western and Central Europe in the early Bronze Age, as well as flint arrowheads, the shape of which is also similar to Central European ones. But the ornament on these bowls is mostly local. Therefore, the possibility of mixing different cultures in a place that was very convenient at that time is not excluded, since the water area of ​​the Vistula Lagoon made it possible to easily overcome long distances, which, in turn, contributed to the expansion of cultural ties and even direct migrations. The new population was attracted by amber, which was appreciated by the Central European peoples.

Separately, it should be noted that nothing like this has ever happened before.

Period from XVII to XIII century BC sometimes referred to as the "Dark Ages" of East Prussia. No settlement complexes of the second half of the 2nd millennium BC. We did not know. In the pre-war period, German researchers unearthed several burial mounds dating back to the Bronze Age, but the things discovered there turned out to be alien in origin, originating from several distant territories. Obviously obtained as a result of trade relations, they did not contain any information about the ethnic past of the people buried in the mounds. It remained completely incomprehensible whether new settlers migrated from another area, or they were the direct heirs of the local late Neolithic tribes who lived in the Southeast Baltic from the end of the 4th millennium BC.

It is also important that by the efforts of linguists it was established that it was by the end of the 2nd millennium BC. the Baltic languages ​​proper began to form. Until that time, the local population spoke unknown Indo-European dialects, but, possibly, already close to the Baltic ones. If indeed in the XV-XIII centuries BC. Since new groups of the population from Central Europe penetrate here, it becomes clear the origin of some words in the Baltic languages ​​and borrowings, which linguists associated with the Celts and even Italics. Naturally, these are only cautious assumptions so far, and we will get the real result only after a few years in the process of hard work.

In addition to the settlement of the Bronze Age on the same bank of the former river, traces of at least three more settlements were recorded, but already of a completely different era.

All discovered ceramics and other products date back to the early Iron Age, namely the 6th-3rd centuries BC. And again it turned out that staying in the contact zone, which is the coast, led to the fact that during this period the southwestern cultural influences continued. But now they came from the so-called Pomor culture from the territory of Northern Poland, which, according to the assumption of many archaeologists, is associated with the Proto-Slavs. Almost all the ceramics of the Early Iron Age from Shosseiny were characterized by features inherent in this culture, which was recently previously confirmed by scientists from the Gdansk Archaeological Museum.
Very encouraging results were obtained when examining the next section, already on the bank of the river. Prokhladnaya, on the outskirts of the village of Ushakovo. Suddenly, in one of the pits, a thick layer of a previously unknown Corded Ware settlement, dating no later than the XXVII century BC, was discovered. At the same time, an astonishing amount of ceramic material and fragments of stone tools were found. The decor on the crockery from this new monument sends us back to Mazury, indicating connections in this direction.
It is planned that large-scale excavations at the sites of the discovered ancient settlements will continue in 2021. If, thanks to this research, preliminary conclusions are confirmed, we can shed light on centuries that previously remained completely unexplored.

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"Baltic odyssey"