Thursday 30 July 2015

Mogila na Rake

Several early Bronze age tumulus graves have been discovered and excavated in Montenegro in last 10 years. They are concentrated in the fertile Zeta and Bojana valleys, both of which are linked to the Skadar lake. I already wrote about the Bjelopavlići tumulus. This time I will write about the tumulus known as "Mogila na rake" or "Spič tumulus" which was discovered in 2011.

Spič tumulus (Mogila na rake)

Tumulus which was found in the Spič field just south of Sutomore, under the Nehaj fortress is a tumulus type grave with a central dolmen cist which was built from a massive stone plates. It is estimated to be almost 5000 years old, dating to the early 3rd millennium BC, more precisely to 2700 BC. This is one of the so called princely graves common for southern Europe of that period.

This is a completely new archaeological locality. It was discovered by pure accident while people were clearing part of an old forest to build a house. Here is a picture of the first sight of the dolmen cist emerging from the tumulus mound.

This is what the dolmen cist looks like after all the soil was cleared away.

According to the archaeologists the tumulus was built by the people who belonged to the early bronze Age Ljubljana culture. This culture seem to have stretched along the whole East Adriatic coast. It also seem to have stretched inland into Bosnia and all the way to Sava and Danube where it could have had contacts with Vučedol culture.

The original tumulus had the radius of about 15 m and the height of about 1.80 m. The dolmen cist is surrounded by a ring of stones, which ritually separates the land of the dead from the land of the living. The sacred area was carefully cleared and compacted. It was then covered with fine dry soil and then treated with fire. Only then the central dolmen was built. The dolmen was made from massive stone plates. The person buried inside this dolmen cist was buried in a foetal position. This symbolizes rebirth after death and points to a belief that the death was seen as a new birth. Once the deceased was placed inside the cist, the cist was sealed with several types of clay, making the grave completely watertight The inside of the grave was as dry as when it was initially sealed almost 5000 years ago.  

This is the translation of the excavation report filed by archaeologist Mladen Zagarčanin who lead the excavation:

The Early Bronze Age tumulus “Mogila na Rake“ from Sutomore was found on the northeastern part of Spič field, about 1 km from the sea. The big earth-stone tumulus which had diameter of about 15 m, and height of about 1.80 m. It was discovered during the works related to the clearing of a private land with the use of diggers. During the dig the majority of the western and northeastern part of the tumulus was destroyed. The excavation work stopped when the digger uncovered the cover plate of the central tomb dolmen cist.

This is a rough cross section diagram of the tumulus:

The tumulus was covered with a layer consisting of large river pebbles.

After removing the stone layer the removal of the red-brown earth layer, about 0.80 to 1.00m thick, was carried out. There were almost no stones in this layer, although now and then one could notice particles of grime, small fragments of broken flint and small pieces of atypical pottery. The excavation of the earth mound confirmed the dense concentration of small and big stones, about 1.20 m thick, from which the stone layer was formed, covering the middle of the conical pile of pressed red coloured clay. The diameter of this layer was about 3.20 m, and the height about 0.80 m.
Further excavation revealed, the layer of green-dark earth, partly mixed with grime, which was roughly piled along the dolmen cist walls up to 0.60 cm height. Several fragments of pottery were found in this layer, as well as larger amount of chipped stone , while a smaller flat stone construction was confirmed on the north side of the same layer. We can assume that this construction represents a stair abutting the tomb, and it could have served as a platform from where the person in charge of the burial carried out the ritual.

With the removal of the green-dark layer the base of lower stone covering was revealed, round in shape, and made of medium and small pieces of limestone (0.5 to 0.20 m) mixed with red-brown earth. The cist was built on this layer using local stones. The sides were  constructed from massive trapezoidal shape stone plates (1.40 × 1.00 m, about 20 cm thick), which were bonded with yellow waterproof clay.

The cist was covered with two massive rectangle shaped plates (1m x 1.20m and 1.80 × 1 m; 20 cm thick), a large amount of yellow green clay was added to the layer of green-dark clay, whose purpose was to cover the plates both above and below, providing in that way the hydro insulation of the tomb interior.

Before the funeral ceremony, the interior of the cist was covered with a layer of fine sea sand, and the body was put on top of it in a foetal position, with the head directed toward to west, arms folded at the elbow, and with folded legs.

The anthropological analyses showed that the buried person was a man in his forties or fifties who had serious problems with his spine during his lifetime. During the detailed bone examination, it was concluded that he suffered of osteoporosis, or bone loss. It was also concluded that arthrosis, or arthritis was present among the ilium bones, as well as diseases of peripheral joints because of degenerative changes in joint cartilage. The third bone disease was found in the lumbar area and sacrum. The deformation found here indicates that the deceased walked with problems during his lifetime and that he suffered great pain in his back. These diseases suggest that he spent much time on horse back, because those deformities are characteristic for riders.

What is very interesting is that this was not the only skeleton found in the cist.

The bones of a child 8-10 years old (teeth and parts of other bones were preserved) were found his legs, as well as a smaller number of bones of a person 25-30 years old. The archaeologists assume that those are the bones of close family members, perhaps his son and wife who died before him. The missing skull and other bones of the buried skeletons point to the possibility that their bones were excavated from some other place and put in this tomb later on. But there is also a possibility that the woman and the child were sacrificed and then buried with the man. 

The cist did not contain any metal objects which is strange for these types of graves from this period. This could mean that this is not a grave of a warrior but a person who was in some other way important. Like a priest.

What was found in the cist are two ceramic vessels: a jug and a shallow plate.

The plate has a thick ring shaped stand and was thus interpreted as a thurible, a vessel used for burning incense during rituals. The thurible is richly decorated on both sides. The cross shaped detail was drawn on the upper surface which was shaped as a shallow plate with the extracted front and rounded back part, formed by the ribbons filled with the crossed lines. The ribbon ornaments formed borders which go along the edge of the vessel. Two holes were made on the corners of the extracted part of the thurible. On the bottom, a star shaped detail was engraved, formed of triangle fields and filled with crossed lines.

Now have a look at the cross symbol drawn on the top surface of the thurible. Remember the grave is dated to 2700 BC:

Is this pattern just a decoration with no meaning? Well if the above incense burning vessel was the only vessel with this symbol found in Montenegro we could say that this is indeed just a meaningless decorative pattern. But exactly the same vessels were found in other tumuluses and some of them are even older than this tumulus and were dated to the end of the 4th millennium BC. Surely the pattern choice was deliberate and must have had some cultural or maybe even religious meaning. I will talk about these other tumuluses and why they are extremely important for understanding of the Early Bronze Age Irish history in my next post. For now, let me just ask you a question: do you remember the gold cross discs which the Early Bronze Age Irish copper miners loved so much? The ones I wrote about in my post Or -Ireland's gold

This is the pair of these "Irish" golden discs found in Monaghan, dated to 2200 - 2000 BC.

Remember that I said that these "Irish" cross discs were made from gold that was brought into Ireland from Cornwall? The gold which was, according to the Irish annals, brought to Ireland by Partholon? The same Pathalon which according to the Irish "pseudo histories" came from the Balkans, via Iberia sometime during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC? 

Please note the cross symbols on the discs. This is the same cross symbol found on the thurible from the Sutomore dolmen. Is this just a coincidence? I don't think so. Not just because there are several incense burning vessel with this symbol found in Montenegro. But also because the same tumuluses which contain the incense burning vessel with this symbol also contain golden discs with this symbol... And all of them predate the Irish gold cross discs and because it all fits perfectly into the story of Partholon found in the old Irish histories.

But more about it in my next posts. Until then stay happy.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Ór - Ireland's Gold

The earliest evidence for gold working dates to the fifth millennium BC. This is based on the discovery of the Varna cemetery which is located approximately half a kilometer from Lake Varna and 4 km from the Varna city centre in Bulgaria. The cemetery was dated to the period 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC. The cemetery belonged to the Charcolitic Varna culture. The graves of this cemetery were full of  golden artifacts and they are considered to be the oldest golden artifacts in the world.

These Varna guys were obsessed with gold. As a matter of fact, just one of the graves from the Varna cemetery, the so called golden grave (grave 43) contained more gold, than has been found in all the other archaeological sites in the world from that epoch...

It seems that this love of gold was not universal. The surrounding Balkan cultures like Vinca Culture seem not to care very much for gold and the situation was pretty much the same in the rest of Europe at that time.

It took over a 1500 years for gold work to reach Britain and Ireland. The first gold objects appear in Ireland at the end of the third millennium (2200 BC). But it seems that once the Irish discovered gold, they became obsessed with it and couldn't have enough of it. But it seems that the Irish had a very peculiar and exclusive taste when it came to the type of gold objects they liked. A few of these kind of thingies were found in the Early Bronze age archaeological site:

But it seems that the favorite type of golden trinkets of the late 3rd millennium Irish were these two types of gold objects: a peculiar gold lunulae and even more peculiar gold cross discs:

The Gold lunula (plural: lunulae) is a distinctive type of late Neolithic, Chalcolithic or (most often) early Bronze Age necklace or collar shaped like a crescent moon. Most have been found in Ireland, but there are moderate numbers in other parts of Europe as well, from Great Britain to areas of the continent fairly near the Atlantic coasts. Although no lunula has been directly dated, from associations with other artefacts it is thought they were being made sometime in the period between 2200–2000 BC. A wooden box associated with one Irish find has recently given a radiocarbon dating range of 2460–2040 BC.

Beautiful things don't you think? The Irish seem to think so too. Of the more than a hundred gold lunulae known from Western Europe, more than eighty were found in Ireland.

Here some examples of European (Non Irish) gold lunulas and gold discs from "'Here comes the sun....' solar symbolism in Early Bronze Age Ireland" by Mary Cahill.

Lunula and a pair of gold discs from Cabeceiras de Basto, Portugal (© MuseuNacional de Arqueologia)

Pair of gold discs from Oviedo,Spain (© J. Camino Mayor, MuseoArqueológico de Asturias)

This is what you can read on the National Museum of Ireland's website about the 3rd millennium Bronze Age Irish gold craze:

The National Museum of Ireland’s collection of Bronze Age gold work is one of the largest and most important in western Europe. The immense quantity of Bronze Age gold from Ireland suggests that rich ore sources were known. 

Gold has been found in Ireland at a number of locations, particularly in Co. Wicklow and Co. Tyrone. The gold is found in alluvial deposits from rivers and streams. This gold is weathered out from parent rock and can be recovered using simple techniques such as panning. These gold deposits are still exploited today.

This gold is weathered out from parent rock and can be recovered using simple techniques such as panning. In Wicklow mountains this technique is still used today by prospectors to find gold nuggets as you can see on the below picture and this video.

The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous upland area in Ireland. They occupy the whole centre of County Wicklow and stretch outside its borders into Counties Carlow, Wexford and Dublin. Where the mountains extend into County Dublin, they are known locally as the Dublin Mountains

Wicklow mountains are criss-crossed with thousands of streams and a lot of them carry gold and some of them carry a lot of gold.

This is the Wicklow gold nugget (or more precisely its replica).

This gold nugget, weighing 682 grams is the biggest gold nugget found on British Isles. It was found in the Ballin valley stream which is located near the town of Avoca in County Wicklow, Ireland, in September 1795. A cast of the ‘Wicklow Nugget’ is held in the Natural History Museum in London. The stories of how the nugget was discovered are many. One story is it was found by workers felling trees on an estate owned by Lord Carysfort. Another that it was found by a local school teacher walking on the banks of what is now the Goldmines River. Either way the nugget sparked the first and only gold rush in Ireland. The search for the source of the gold that can still be panned today in the rivers of Wicklow has gone on since 1795 but the mother lode has never been found.

So there is plenty of gold in Ireland. But how did the Irish learn how to find it, exploit it and make these amazing gold artifacts from it? The National Museum of Ireland's website say this:

While we do not know precisely how the late Neolithic people of Ireland became familiar with metalworking, it is clear that it was introduced as a fully developed technique. Essential metalworking skills must have been introduced by people already experienced at all levels of production, from ore identification and recovery through all stages of the manufacturing process....Basically the gold working had become well established in Ireland and Britain together with a highly productive copper and bronze working industry. 

What this basically says is that gold working was brought to Ireland by the outsiders, invaders, by the same people who brought copper mining and metallurgy. These guys arrived to Ireland between 2400 BC and 2200 BC looking for copper. And they found it. In huge quantities.

Records of mining in Ireland date back to the Early Bronze Age when southwest Ireland was an important copper producer, with evidence of old copper workings at Ross Island located in Killarney, Co Kerry.

Ross Island is a claw-shaped peninsula in Killarney National Park, County Kerry. Copper extraction on the site is believed to be the source of the earliest known Irish Pre-Bronze Age metalwork, namely copper axe heads, halberds and knife/dagger blades dating from 2,400 - 2,200 BC. These finds have been distributed throughout Ireland and in the West of Britain - in South Britain the metalwork was imported from across the Channel.

The archaeology of the site has unearthed both mining operations and a smelting camp where the Copper ore was processed into a type of metal distinctive enough to be traced these early tools. As there is no evidence that the complex technology had developed spontaneously, this early metallurgy would indicate contacts with mainland Europe - in particular, extending along the coastline from Spain through Normandy. The Ross island operation was associated with beaker pottery and continued until ca 1,900 BC

And at the same time we see the appearance of the gold artifacts in Ireland too. So something very interesting happened between the 6th millennium BC and the 3rd millennium BC on the European Metal scene. As I already said the earliest evidence for gold working dates to the fifth millennium BC Varna culture. The earliest evidence for copper working dates to the 6th millennium Vinča culture. And as I said already, for a while the gold dudes from Varna and the copper and bronze dudes from Vinča didn't really go out much and didn't mix with one another or anyone else for that matter. They were too busy digging, smelting and making Metal, perfecting their art you know. But then one day, probably at the end of the 4th millennium, the beginning of the 3rd millennium, they must have been invited to a party organized by these new foreign kids who just came to Europe, from the steppe. I mean those steppe dudes were mixing some strong stuff in them pots they had, and their parties were the hottest thing in town. So I guess the Copper dudes kitted themselves out with all the copper tools and the Gold dudes kitted themselves out with all the gold bling and went to the party. What happened at that party is a bit hazy. But at some stage someone, and I would bet it was one of those steppe kids, said something like this: "Hey you, the copper dudes! Have you ever thought of making weapons out of copper?! I know the agricultural tools are useful but they are not cool man! You know what's cool?! Daggers! And Axes! And you really have to start working on your image! You look too rough, too uncultivated, too like "Neolithic" or something! You need something like what those gold dudes are wearing! But you can't just wear shit loads of gold bling and expect girls to say "He is so cool"! No, that just makes you look like a sissy! What you really want is shit loads of copper weapons and shit loads of gold bling! Then you gonna look like gangstas! Girls love gangstas man!" The rest is history. From that moment on, a once relatively peaceful Europe is overrun by a bunch of copper weapons wielding, beaker quaffing gangstas, covered in gold...

The guys who jumped out of the boat on the Irish shore in the late 3rd millennium BC were one of those guys. But these were no sissies, a peace loving people who kept themselves to themselves. They came to Ireland to mine and process copper to make weapons and I am sure they knew how to use them. It is very possible that they very quickly make themselves the only gang in town. O and these gangstas loved gold. So they, employed the same mining and metallurgical skills they used to find, mine and process Irish copper to find and process Irish gold and turn it into gold lunulae and gold cross discs that they loved so much. Right? Not exactly.

Back to the National Museum of Ireland's website then goes on to say this:

Although gold has played an important part in the cultural history of Ireland, notably in the wealth of recovered gold ornaments,  records of gold extraction or its occurrence are relatively sparse and poorly documented prior to the 17th century....Although gold has been found in Ireland at a number of locations, particularly in Co. Wicklow and Co. Tyrone, it has not yet been possible to identify the ancient sources where gold was found (which was used for the Early Bronze Age gold artifacts found in Ireland)....

The National Museum of Ireland's website is basically saying that even though the Early Bronze Age Irish were heavily blinged, we have no idea where the gold used to make this bling came from. Well, it seems that the information on the National Museum of Ireland's website is slightly out of date. We actually now know where the gold used to make the early Bronze Age Irish bling came from, and it didn't come from Ireland. This is the result of the latest study conducted by the scientists from the Bristol university who recently, together with the scientists from Leeds university, compared the gold from which the early Irish gold artifacts were made, with the naturally occurring gold deposits in the British Isles. The results were published in the paper entitled: "The genesis of gold mineralisation hosted by orogenic belts: A lead isotope investigation of Irish gold deposits". You can also find them in the paper entitled "A Non-local Source of Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Gold".

Chris Standish, an archaeology PhD student in Bristol University used the latest advances in geochemistry to compare Irish native gold and museum gold using variations in the four natural types of lead atoms, or lead isotopes. The quantities of lead are tiny, around 0.002 per cent, and were measured using a mass spectrometer. The chemical composition of the material used to make the  early Bronze Age, 2,200 to 1,800 BC gold artifacts was cross checked and proved to be consistent. This suggests that all the early Bronze Age Irish gold have come from one area, possibly from river gravels. This chemical composition was then compared with the composition of all known Irish natural gold deposits. The chemical composition of the naturally occurring gold in Ireland was collected by the geologist Rob Chapman from Leeds University, who has spent hours standing in ice-cold streams and rivers across Ireland panning for gold. 

Scientists couldn’t find a match between any of the Irish gold deposits and the Museum gold. They examined likely areas, including the gold deposits from Mournes, Croagh Patrick, Counties Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford. Looking purely at the lead isotopes, gold in the artifacts is most consistent with gold from the southeast (Wicklow). But there is too little silver and trace metal for it to be a proper match. Standish suggests there may be gold he has yet to analyse, but another, controversial, explanation is gold imports. According to Chapman,The lead signature he [Standish] gained from the early Bronze Age artifacts corresponded to the granite rocks in Cornwall”. This means that the Early Bronze Age Irish gold artifacts were made from gold found and panned in Cornwall. 

This is a golden lunula from Cornwall dated to the period 2400BC-2000BC. Does it predate the Irish ones?

Chapman then went to say that the results of the study "have irritated some archaeologists".

So Chapman then had to add this to his paper:Natural gold does occur in Cornwall, but it is difficult to find and we cannot say categorically whether the gold content is compatible or not. Since the early Bronze Age, the land has changed so much that you cannot visit the same sites available to the Bronze Age people; some lie underwater. One possibility is that there is a deposit of gold somewhere in Ireland which has eluded modern prospectors but was used by Bronze Age people...."

Given extensive gold exploration in Ireland since the 1980s, a hidden source is somewhat unlikely, say geologists, dimming hopes of an Irish El Dorado. But it’s a possibility. And archaeologists and historians, who were irritated by the results of this study and who are refusing to accept the new geological data are clinging to it. 

One of those irritated archaeologists is Mary Cahill, curator of the National Museum of Ireland’s Bronze Age collection, who had this to say about the whole thing: "...there is no supporting archaeological evidence for extensive gold imports to Ireland at this time. We know that Irish copper and bronze objects turn up in Britain, but there are no signs of gold coming in. And clues pointing to southern Britain as a source for Irish gold are not conclusive....". This is a perfect example of how archaeologists and historians are refusing to accept the latest scientific data because it contradicts with commonly accepted theories of what happened. 

I also love the way these finds were actually interpreted by Standish: 

Lead author Dr Chris Standish says: “This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artefacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally.

“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold didn’t exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals. It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production.

Isn't a much simpler and more logical explanation that the Early Bronze Age gold objects found in Ireland were made in the same place where the gold was found, in Cornwall and that they were then brought to Ireland as finished products? But that would make even more people even more irritated. This would effectively put an end to the accepted history and the story of the Early Bronze Age Ireland being the Golden Isle, the center of the European gold working crafts of that time ...So the official archaeology and history is surprised and irritated with the new data showing that the "Irish gold" was brought to Ireland. 

But guess what? The old Irish annals, the so called "pseudo history" tells us that the gold was "brought into Ireland" and that it was brought right about the time when the first gold artifacts start appearing in Ireland.

The old Irish annals tell us that the first race that lived in Ireland were Fomorians. Then, after the flood, came the people of Partholón who are credited with introducing cattle husbandry, plowing, cooking, dwellings, trade, and dividing the island in four. But Partholon also brought gold. 

Labor Gabala Erenn tells us that Partholon had with him two merchants: Biobhal (Bibal) and Beabhal (Babal). Babal brought cattle to Ireland, and Bibal brought gold.

So when did Partholon come to Ireland? 

The Annals of the Four Masters says they arrived in 2520 Anno Mundi (after the "creation of the world"), Seathrún Céitinn's Foras Feasa ar Érinn says they arrived in 2061 BC, Annals of Four Masters says that they arrived at 2680 BC. So Sometimes in the second half of the 3rd millennium. 

So far the "pseudo history" is right on the money. 

And finally where did the Parthalon come from?

The earliest surviving reference to the Partholóin is in the Historia Brittonum, a 9th-century British Latin compilation attributed to one Nennius. Here, "Partholomus" is said to have come to Ireland from Spain.

Seathrún Céitinn's 17th century compilation Foras Feasa ar Érinn, says that Partholón was the son of Sera, the king of Greece, and fled his homeland after murdering his father and mother. He lost his left eye in the attack on his parents. He and his followers set off from Greece, sailed via Sicily, around Iberia, and arrived in Ireland from the west, having traveled for seven years.

The Lebor Gabála Érenn, an 11th-century Christian pseudo-history of Ireland, tells us more. It tells us that Partholón came from either Sicily or Mygdonia which was an ancient territory, part of Ancient Thrace. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn Partholon was the son of Sera, son of Sru, a descendant of Magog, son of Japheth (see Japhetites), son of Noah. Partholón and his people sail to Ireland via Gothia, Anatolia, Greece, Sicily and Iberia, and landing at Inber Scéne (Kenmare in County Kerry). This is the closest landing point next to the ancient Ross Island copper mine. This mine was the reason why the pot loving, copper weapons making and gold bling wearing Beaker gangstas came to Ireland. 

So is the Irish "pseudo history" right about the Balkans being the birth place of Partholon like it was about when he landed in Ireland, where he landed in Ireland and the fact that he and his people had brought gold to Ireland? I believe so. But I will talk about this in one of my next posts. 

Thursday 23 July 2015

Racka sheep

These are Racka sheep. The Racka is a unique breed with both ewes and rams possessing long spiral shaped horns. The breed is found in two major color patterns. The most common shows brown hair covering the heads and legs with the fleece varying in color from dark brown to light brown and white. Individuals are also found which are solid black. The wool tips on these animals fades to a reddish black with exposure to sunlight and with age the points of the fleece will turn gray. The Racka has been described as a hardy animal and is often used in crossbreeding due to its ability to pass this survivability to its offspring. 

If we look at the page about the Racka sheep at the Department of Animal Science - Oklahoma State University website, we read that: "The breed is of the Zackel type and originated in Hungary". We also see that this breed of sheep is also known as: Ratca (Romanian), Hortobágy Racka, Hungarian Zackel

Now if we look at the wiki page about Racka sheep we read that "Originating in Hungary, the Racka has existed since at least the 1800, when the first registry was established."

However we know that this sheep is not of Hungarian origin and that it existed before the 1800.

This is a detail of the fresco called "The birth of Jesus" from the Serbian monastery Pećka patrijaršija lokated in Kosovo. The fresco is dated to 1346. On this detail you can see two shepherds minding the flock of Racka sheep. So Serbian shepherds had flocks of Racka sheep in south of the Balkan peninsula in the first half of the 14th century. It must have been such a dominant breed, that it was depicted on the fresco as the common sheep.

So we can see that the Racka sheep existed in Serbia in the early 14th century. It should not be a surprise then that the adjective "Racka" actually means Serbian.

The Principality of Serbia or Serbian Principality was an early medieval state of the Serbs ruled by the Vlastimirović dynasty, that existed from c. 780 to 969 in Southeastern Europe. The first ruler of the dynasty known by name was Višeslav who began his rule around 780, being a contemporary of Charlemagne. The first capital of the this Serbian state was the city of Ras, which was the center of the area which became known as Raška. The first attested appearance of the name Raška is in the Kotor charter (1186), in which Stefan Nemanja is mentioned as župan of Raška. Soon after Raška (Rascia) became an exonym for Serbia in western sources (Papacy, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Polish etc.) often in conjunction with Serbia (Servia et Rascia). However, that name appears scarcely in medieval Serbian and never in Byzantine works to denote the state.

The people from this region were in the Western Europe known as Raci, Rascijani, Rašani, Rác, Rácok;Ratzen, Raize, Raizen, Ratzians, Racowie, Rasciani, Natio Rasciana... This ethnonim was later applied to all the Serbs from medieval Serbian states. In late medieval time, Serbian Balkan states fell under the Turkish rule. The remaining Serbian inhabited territories across the rivers Sava and Danube, which already had a large Serbian population, swell with the refugees from the Balkan Serbian states. You can read more about Serbs in these territories on the page about Serbian Vojvodina. From the time of the disappearance of the Serbian state, the term Rascians was the the exonym that designated Serbs of the Habsburg Monarchy, and in a wider perspective, all South Slavs of the Monarchy. Because of the large concentration of Serbs in the southern Pannonian Plain, this region was called Rascia, today encompassing territories of Croatia (Slavonia), Serbia (Vojvodina), Hungary and Romania.

This is the map of the approximate territory, compiled based on various sources, which was ethnographically identified as Rascia between the 16th and 18th centuries. This territory inhabited primarily by the Serbs in the Habsburg Monarchy was called Latin: Rascia; Serbian: Raška/Рашка; Hungarian: Ráczság, Ráczország, rácz tartomány; German: Ratzenland, Rezenland.

This is the exact territory where in 1800's we find Racka (Serbian) sheep. 

The final proof that Racka sheep is actually Serbian sheep comes from something called "grammatical gender".  In linguistics, "grammatical gender" is a specific form of noun-class system in which the division of noun classes forms an agreement system with another aspect of the language, such as adjectives, articles, or verbs. This system is used in approximately one quarter of the world's languages. Serbian is one such language. In Serbian all nouns have genders. So if Raci is an ethnonim or an exonym, then adjective for male nouns is "Racki" and for female nouns is "Racka".  Serbian word for sheep, "ovca", pronounced "ovtsa", is a feminine gendered noun. This is why the adjectives used with the word sheep in Serbian have to have feminine endings, which means they have to end on "a". The expression "Serbian sheep" in Serbian would be "Racka ovca" so that both noun and adjective have the same ending. 

What about Hungarian? Could this also be the case in Hungarian? No. Not all languages have gendered pronouns. In languages that never had grammatical gender, there is normally just one word for "he" and "she", like "dia" in Indonesian, "ő" in Hungarian and "o" in Turkish. So Hungarian could not have been the source of the name "Racka". 

This shows that the name "Racka" comes from Serbian and that originally Serbs may have also called themselves Raseni, Rasi, Raci. This opens a big question: Were Serbs called Rasi because of Raška or was Raška called Raška because it was the land of Rasi? I believe that the second is the case, and that one of the old names of Serbs was Rasi. 

I found some information that the first mention or depiction of Racka like sheep are found in Mesopotamian and Etruscan sources. I have also seen mentions of Racka like sheep rock art from Caucasus. However I have no details to support any of this. I would be more than grateful to anyone who has any additional information about these ancient sources mentioning or depicting Racka like sheep. I believe that this sheep is closely linked with the Raseni, Rasi, Rasci, Raci - Serbs and that it was brought to Europe by them, id indeed it didn't originate in the Balkans. I also believe that tracing the previous mentions or depictions of this breed of sheep will help us shed more light on the possible origin of Raseni, Rasi, Rasci, Raci - Serbs.

Friday 17 July 2015

Eat - To break fast

Eid ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fitr means "to break the fast". 

The main focus point of this holiday is a communal feast. Interestingly Jed (Slavic), Eat (Germanc), Ithe (Irish)...are all words coming from the same ancient Indoeuropean root meaning "to eat"...

Since the time immemorial the focal point of every celebration was the communal feast. This is why I believe that the word "eid" got its meaning "celebrating" from the meaning "eating" or more precisely "eating together". This means that the expression "Eid ul-Fitr" literally means "Eat to break the fast" which is the exact description of what happens during the "Eid ul-Fitr" holiday...

And I thought that Arabic is a Semitic, Afroasiatic language unrelated to Indoeuropean languages...

I already wrote about this linguistic mystery in my post about the "The Christmas trees from the Garden of Eden"? 

Here is the part that talks about the etymology of the word Eden:

If we look at the word Eden we see that the origin and the meaning of the word "Eden" is uncertain. The official etymology says that it comes from Hebrew עדן (eden), perhaps from Sumerian e-den "Steppe, garden".

But I believe that the root of this word is much simpler. In Serbian we have word "jede" which is in the old south Serbian dialect found in a form "ede". This word means eat. It comes from the Proto Indo European root "*h₁ed" meaning to eat from which the English word eat also comes from. In Serbian we have the following words derived from the root "ede, jede":

jelo, jedja, jedivo, jestivo – food
edenje, jedenje, iće - food (south Serbian dialect). Literally means eating and is the direct cognate of the English word eating.
eden, jeden - eaten

The garden of Eden was the garden of edible trees. It was the garden of god given food, of edenje, jedenje, eating. Is this the actual original, simple meaning of the word Eden = Eating, Food? Was the Garden of Eden just the edible forest, the Garden of Jedenje, Eating?

And again how come we have these Indoeuropean words in these ancient Afroasiatic languages???

If we assume that the division on Indoeruopean and Afroasiatic languages is true, and I am beginning to doubt this, then this word predates the linguistic split and is probably one of the oldest surviving words in living languages. But I think that the division into Indoeuropean and Afriasiatic languages needs to be reevaluated. Look at the genetic map of Africa, Europe and Asia. Population is mixed and so are the Languages. Look at all the R1a people in Arabia and R1b in Africa, all the J1 and J2 peopla in Africa, Asia Minor and Europe, all the E1b people in Europe...There is no clean division, there can't be. I believe that this word comes from the old languages spoken in the old 4 river's plateau, the place where we find the old Eden in Asia Minor in Mesolithic....I wrote about it in my post about the Trees from the Garden of Eden. But then this word could have entered the Afroasiatic languages much later as the people continued to mix through the following millenniums. 

What do you think?

Thursday 16 July 2015

A present

This is a photo of a  sunrise over the cemetery west of Spiddal in Galway, Ireland. 

This picture made me think of one of my favorite quotes:

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” 

Cartoonist Bill Keane quoted by the Taoist Master Shifu character from the kids film Kung Fu Panda. 

This picture and this quote pretty much sum it all up guys. So happy today everyone, go and enjoy your present.

Monday 13 July 2015

Bjelopavlići tumulus

Several years ago, archaeologists discovered a partially destroyed tumulus in the area between the two villages Frutak i Kujava near the town of Danilovgrad in Montenegro. The area is located in extremely fertile region which surrounds the lake Skadar and its tributaries.

The tumulus which originally had a diameter of 20 meters and a height of 1,75 meters was badly damaged by farming. Eventually plowing exposed a stone dolmen cist. Inside archaeologists discovered two bronze spearheads, a bronze needle, a bronze bracelet, a bronze armlet and a bronze fibula. Unfortunately I don't have any more info about this tumulus nor pictures of the artifacts found in it. I would really appreciate any help in locating additional information about this tumulus.

Anyway, the area where this first tumulus was found had many more ancient tumuluses which managed to stay undisturbed until the present day. There were 6 more tumuluses in Frutak and 4 more in Kujava. So the archaeological investigation in the area continued.

In 2014 a team of archaeologists lead by Predrag Lutovac opened the second tumulus. Inside of the tumulus archaeologists discovered two stone dolmen cists.

The cists were surrounded by two concentric stone circles, one inside the tumulus and one marking the outer edge of the tumulus. 

Archaeologists believe that the edge of the tumulus was marked with a stone circle not only to prevent the tumulus soil erosion but also in order to separate the land of the dead from the land of the living. 

The data available about this archaeological site is extremely limited and confusing. It amounts to few news articles and one video interview. From this I was not able to determine how many people were buried in the tumulus. I believe that from what I can gather there were all together four people buried in the tumulus. I can't wait to see the DNA data retrieved from the remains. I'd say we are in for a surprise... :)

This is the picture of the skeleton of the person buried inside the bigger dolmen cist. It is a skeleton of an adult male. He was buried in a fetal position. According to the archaeologists this symbolises rebirth after death and points to a belief that the death was seen as a new birth.

The tumulus was originally provisionally dated to the early Bronze age to the period around 1850 BC, but the latest results have moved the dating even further back in time, to around 2400 BC. According to the archaeologists the tumulus was built by the people who belonged to the early bronze Age Ljubljana culture.

Inside the tumulus archaeologists discovered ceramic artifacts. 

They also discovered bronze bracelets but unfortunately I don't have any pictures of these bracelets.

And finally, archaeologists discovered this mysterious bronze disc like object.

Now are you seeing what I am seeing? Are you seeing the concentric groves, the holes which look like they were drilled in the metal and used for screws or some kind of bolts or rivets? What is this and what was it used for? How was it made? And am I the only one who can see a "Celtic"  cross shape in it?

The vertical hands go below the circle and the horizontal ones go above the circle? Maybe yes maybe no :) Unfortunately I don't have the picture of the other side of this object so I can't confirm my hypothesis. O and by the way, "Celtic" is in quotes for a reason :) This object has nothing to do with Celts or Christianity....I use the name "Celtic cross"  because this is today the most commonly used name for this type of solar crosses even though the earliest examples of these solar crosses predate Celts by millenniums and date to 6th millennium BC Balkans and Central Europe...

Regardless of whether this is a "Celtic" cross or not, this is still a very intriguing object. Few people asked me if I had a scale of the object. Luckily I do. I hope this helps the speculation about the use of the object. 

This is a comparative table of Macedonian, Balkan and Caucasian bronze Early Iron Age (8th century bc) ornaments (pieces oj horse gear) . Have a look at the item 27 from the Balkans. I think this can help us understand the purpose of the above object. 

But we have to be careful when making conclusions based on the similarity of these two objects. Just because the symbol on two objects is the same doesn't mean that they have the same function. The same symbol is found on Celtic standing crosses. Also just because the symbol first appears on horse riding equipment in bronze in the late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, it doesn't mean that it could not have been used on other earlier objects with completely different function. This doesn't mean that the object from the tumulus is not part of the later contamination.

Anyway this is not why this discovery is already rewriting European history. It is the fact that we have early bronze age dolmens in the western Balkans that is so important. This is going to take some digesting and explaining. But I believe that this is just the beginning of the "surprise discoveries" and that what is to come is going to be even more interesting. 

According to the archaeologists only in Montenegro there are between 3000 and 5000 tumuluses of which only 10 have been excavated. What else will be found when all the other tumuluses are excavated and how will this change our understanding of the Early European Bronze Age? 

Thursday 9 July 2015

As old as a tree

My son found some dead flies lying on the windowsill yesterday. He asked my wife what killed all these flies and she told him that flies only live for a few days and then they die "of old age". 

This made me think of trees which can live for hundreds and even thousands of years. To trees we probably look as short lived as the fruit flies look to us. Generations of people are born, live and die during the lifetime of a tree. People can live a long time, some can live a very long time, but even these longest human lives are just blips in lives of trees. 

I think that this is why the word for "ancient, primeval" in Slavic languages is "drevan". It comes from the same root that gave us the word "drvo, drevo, derevo" meaning tree. So "drevan" would then literally mean "as old as a tree"...

I love my language... :)

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Tollense battle

A few weeks ago someone wrote this comment on my post about knobsticks:

"One of the knobsticks found in the Tollense River is actually made from blackthorn (sloe) wood (Prunus spinosa)! A remarkable resemblance to the Irish tradition. "

I had no idea what this person was talking about. I never heard of Tollense river before. So I decided to investigate the whole thing. It turned out Tollense river was a site of a big battle which took place around 1200 BC. But was this battle a clash of two armies, or an attack on a caravan traveling along the ancient Amber road?

 This is Tollense valley, a river valley located in western Pomerania. 

According to reports in the German media, human remains from the Bronze Age have been found in this region since 1997. Horse bones have also been found in the same archaeological layer. Many human bones showed signs of serious injury and violent death. But then a  humerus (upper arm) bone was found which contained a flint arrowhead firmly embedded into it. 

This pointed to a possibility that this area of the Tollense river valley was a site of an ancient battle and that the bones belonged to the battle victims. A serious archaeological study of the river valley started in 2008 and it narrowed down the possible battle site to an area of two square kilometers. 

As well as the humerus (upper arm) bone with the embedded flint arrow head, archaeologists have found other proofs that other people have also died in the same area of the violent death. Many bones discovered at the site contain lesions which were produced by blows and many were broken. A scull was found with a bronze arrowhead found firmly embedded into it, penetrating the scull and entering the brain. 

Until now 25 socketed bronze arrowheads were detected which occur in clusters especially where human and horse bones also come to light. In conclusion there is little doubt that the remarkable number of these bronze projectile points and the bones belong to the same find.

Also several fractured skulls were  unearthed which have all the characteristics of the impact trauma suggesting that the fractures were made by a massive blows with blunt weapons. 

The archaeologists have found remains of several wooden clubs, of which some were shaped like baseball bats and were made of ash wood, and some were shapes like croquet mallets and were made of sloe (black thorn) wood. 

Both types of these battle sticks are also found in the Irish arsenal of knobsticks. You can see the mallet shaped Irish knobstick, third from the left. It is also made from the black thorn wood.

It is now estimated that about 200 people died in this small area of the Tollense valley. And based on the forensic evidence, it is believed that these people were murdered. Originally it was believed that it was possible that these people were ritually killed and sacrificed, but it is now believed that it is much more probable, considering all the weapons found on the site, that all these people were killed in some kind of a battle. A battle which was fought with wooden blunt weapons (clubs), arrows with flint arrowheads and bronze arrowheads, spears with bronze spear tips, axes with bronze axe heads, bronze swords and knives, all of which were found in the area. 

All these findings were possible due to the preservation of the former swamp ground and the fact that the Tollense has never really changed its course. Since the population density then was about 5 people per square kilometer, this would have been the most significant battle in bronze period Germany yet to be discovered. And one of the earliest battle sites discovered in Europe to date. Based on the radiocarbon dating this battle took place some time between 1300 bc and 1200 bc, but closer to 1200 bc. 

So who fought this battle in which so many people were killed? Well this is still a mystery. The injuries suggest face-to-face combat in a battle. Most archaeologists agree that this battle was fought between two warring tribes. But I have my doubts about this. And this is why. 

Most of the bodies appeared to be young men. This would indeed suggest that the people who were killed were indeed warriors belonging to two warring armies. But not all bodies are those of the young men. Many bones belonged to young women. Fair enough they could also have been warriors. The same can be said for middle aged men whose bones were also found at the site. But the bones were also discovered which belonged to old women and young children. These were definitely not warriors. And armies are unlikely to contain among their ranks young children and old women. What if an army of one tribe attacked a settlement of another tribe. There sure could have been some civilians, even old women and children which were caught and killed in the conflict. But no settlement was found anywhere near the battle scene. So what were all these people doing fighting in the middle of nowhere? What were they fighting over? A swamp? A field? If the population density was really that small at the time of the battle, there was plenty of space for everyone, so what were these people fighting over? The place where the battle took place is a very very unlikely place for a battle between the two armies to take place. 

Does that mean that I believe that there was no battle? No, I believe that there was a battle, but that this was not a war, but a heist, an armed robbery. I believe that what happened in Tollense valley was an attack of an armed gang on a caravan. 

Caravan is a group of people and their transports (Horses, Camels, Mules, ..., Cars, Trucks) which moving together and transfer cargoes. The reason why people would travel in caravans is because they offer protection in numbers. A lone traveler, particularly if he is carrying anything valuable is an easy target for robbers and wild animals. A group of people traveling together is much more difficult to attack particularly if they are armed and or have armed guards traveling with them. The more valuable the cargo carried by the caravan, the more armed guards the caravan would have to insure the security of the cargo. Caravans can be ad hock or regular caravans going along the predetermined route at predetermined intervals. Additional travelers would often attach themselves to caravans for protection. This could make caravans quite large and it they could grow until sometimes hundreds of people would end up traveling together. Caravans have been used for millenniums during which they didn't change much. This is an engraving of a medieval Persian caravan

You can see travelers protected by armed guards, of which some are cavalry armed with spears and probably swords and some are foot soldiers armed with bows and arrows. Travelers are also either traveling on horseback or are walking next to their horses which are carrying saddlebags full of cargo. I believe that this is the exact type of caravan that was attacked by a band of armed robbers in the Tollense valley some time between 1300 bc and 1200 bc. 

Do we have any evidence that the Tollense battle was indeed an attack on a caravan? I believe we do. The archaeological reports say that "the evidence was also found among the human remains of a millet diet, which is not typical of Northern Germany at the time, which may indicate the presence of invaders. Bronze pins of a Silesian design which were also found on the site could suggest contact with the Silesian region 400km to the south-east". So the idea is that invaders came from Silesia and attacked locals in Pomerania. I agree that some people involved in the battle at the Tollense valley were from Silesia, but I don't agree that they were invaders. I believe that they were traders, and more specifically metal, tin and bronze traders. It was these Silesian metal traders who were traveling in a caravan protected by the armed guards, which were attacked by a gang of robbers. And these robbers attacked the caravan precisely because it was carrying the most precious metal of the bronze age: tin. 

Do we have any proof that the people who fought the battle in the Tollense valley carried with them tin ingots? Yes we do. Among the bones and weapons archaeologists have also found several gold spiral rings and bronze spiral rolls,  a small bronze finger-ring, a bronze arm ring and most importantly tin spiral ring ingots. 

Gold rings:

Tin spiral ring ingots and bronze spirals:

These are extremely unlikely things to be found in the equipment of a warrior belonging to an invading army. But they would be exactly the kind of things that you would find in the saddle bags of a metal trader. Archaeologists are extremely excited about these finds. Because preservation of prehistoric tin is very difficult, the raw material remains more or less invisible in the archaeological find record. There are no comparable tin objects available from northern Germany.

In the Bronze Age tin was a raw material of fundamental importance. Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminium, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. But the most important element in this mixture is tin. No tin - no bronze, no bronze - no bronze weapons. Copper itself is too soft and mixed with other elements too brittle. But copper mixed with tin will give you the bronze alloy which is just right for making blades. So to make bronze you need copper and tin. Copper is not a problem. There are huge copper deposits all over Europe. But tin is another story. Tin is an extremely rare raw material in Europe. This is why tin was during the Bronze Age more valuable than gold. This is why we don't find more bronze age tin objects. All the tin was used to make bronze. The most important prehistoric sources of tin were  Brittany in western France, Cornwall in south western England and the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula. And Erzgebirge (Ore Mountain) area in eastern Germany. And guess what is just next to the Ore Mountains, the most important continental European source of Tin and Copper? Silesia. 

This is the position of the Ore Mountains in South of Germany. You will see that they are located right next to Silesia.

The Ore Mountains area played an important role in contributing Bronze Age ore, and as the setting of the earliest stages of the early modern transformation of mining and metallurgy from a craft to a large-scale industry. This is because the Ore mountains are extremely rich in both tin and copper as well as silver and led ores. No wonder this area was the place where as early as 2500 BC we find highly developed mining industry. Tin mining knowledge spread to other European tin mining districts from Erzgebirge and evidence of tin mining begins to appear in Brittany, Devon and Cornwall, and in the Iberian Peninsula around 2000 BC.

Not only that but the Ore Mountains were rich in ore necessary for making bronze, but the surrounding mountain area was covered in ancient forests which provided endless easily obtainable fuel for smelting the metal, while the river valleys just south, north and east of the mountains were ideal for growing cereals. Everything a metallurgical culture needed to develop was there concentrated in this one small area. No wonder that just after the 2500 BC in this area we see emergence of the Unetice culture. The Unetice culture is the most important archaeological culture of the Central European Bronze Age, dated roughly to about 2300–1600 BC. The eponymous site for this culture, village Únětice, is located in Central Czech Republic, northwest of Prague, just under the Ore Mountains in the fertile cereal growing country. The culture quickly spread to all the areas surrounding the Ore mountains. Today this archaeological culture is known from Czech Republic and Slovakia from approximately 1400 sites, from Poland (550 sites, Silesia) and Germany (approximately 500 sites and loose finds locations). The Unetice culture is also known from north-eastern Austria (in association with the so-called the Böheimkirchen Group), and from western Ukraine. This is the map of Unetice culture sites and their relationship with the Ore Mountains and Silesia.

Here is another map of the distribution of the Unetice culture from Eupedia website which might give even better idea how central the Ore Mountains were for the development of this culture:

The Únětice culture is commonly associated with Nebra Sky Disk.

But Unetice culture is also associated with another type of artifact: ingot torcs. Ingot torcs are torcs made from tin and bronze intended for trading as raw metal. This is an example of Unetice ingot torc from Silesia:

And here is a bronze bracelet from Unetice culture which looks exactly like the Tollense tin spiral rings:

The Únětice culture had trade links with the British Isles. A gold lunula of Irish design has been found as far south as Butzbach in Hessen (Germany). Amber was traded as well. But the most important trade item I believe was tin, copper and bronze. The tin from the Ore Mountains was traded north to the Baltic Sea and south to the Mediterranean following the Amber trading route.

Amber trading route was an ancient travel and trade rout which connected Balkan and Baltic from at least early Neolithic. It mostly fallowed the river valleys radiating north and south from the area between the Ore Mountains and Silesia. This area is very peculiar. It is a watershed. Just above it we have three major rivers, Laba (Elbe), Oder and Visla (Vistula) flowing into the Baltic and North sea. Just below it we have river Danube which flows into the Black sea and whose tributaries start at the watersheds with Adriatic and Aegean sea (Sava, Morava, Drina) and from which we can follow Neretva river into Adriatic sea and Vardar river into the Aegean sea.

Please note that on the above map the territories of Unetice culture and Lusatian culture are very similar. This is not a coincidence. They both cover the same area defined by the three major Baltic rivers Laba (Elbe), Oder and Visla (Vistula). This shows that both cultures were oriented towards the South Baltic and the North sea as their main Maritime trade gate. The control over these three rivers was crucial to ensure the movement of goods and people from the area around the Ore Mountains and the South Baltic and North sea coast.

So this trade route connected Balkan and Baltic. And it didn't stop at the coast of Balkans either. It continued from north Italy to Corsica and Sardinia, and from the Balkans across the Dardanelles to Asia Minor and then to Middle East and Egypt. But this trade route did not stop at the coast of the South Baltic and North Sea. From there it continued over the sea to Britain and Ireland and further down to Brittany and Iberia.

And bang in the middle of this most important European trade route we find a rich copper, tin and wood deposits right next to the fertile agricultural land. It is then no wonder that in the 3rd millennium BC this area underwent technological, economic, political and population boom and the emergence of the Metallurgical Unetice culture.

The new study of the Únětice Culture done by Dalia Pokutta aimed to produce a ‘bioarchaeological portrait’ of the Únětice culture in Poland (Silesia). The study presents the subject from a palaeodemographic perspective based on the results of isotopic analysis of human remains dating back to the Early Bronze Age (2200-1600 B.C).

‘It is the biggest isotopic project undertaken in Poland so far. Hundreds of samples were analysed, not only human bones, but also animals. Total of fifty human remains were analysed. The author focused on the Early Bronze Age lifestyle, medical knowledge and diseases, occupations and professions, as well as chosen subgroups of the Silesian prehistoric society, such as the tribal aristocracy, children and elders. The study provides information regarding diet and subsistence, transportation, human migrations and territorial mobility as well as the impact of these factors upon Úněticean society, expansion of metallurgy and commerce, forms of rulership and collective identity.

One of the leading conclusions is a very high level of territorial mobility of the prehistoric population in Silesia, with presence of immigrants from Germany, Czechia, Hungary and Sweden. This confirms that the area around the Ore mountains, became due to its economic prosperity, a magnet for traders, soldiers and all sorts of other people from along the Amber trading route.

This movement of people along the Amber trading route only intensified in the following millenniums during the Bronze Age. Unetice Culture was replaced by the Tumulus Culture and then by the Urnfield Culture. When the Tollense battle happened, the whole area above Silesia and between the rivers Laba (Elbe) and Visla (Vistula), Including the Tollense valley, was part of the Lusatian culture (pink on the map), which is regarded as part of the Urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300 BCE – 500 BCE) in most of today's Poland, parts of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, parts of eastern Germany and parts of Ukraine.

The Lusatian culture was heavily influenced by the west-alpine and Hallstatt cultures. Metalwork technologies were imported from the South via the Laba (Elbe), Oder and Visla (Vistula) river. From where? From the area of the Ore Mountains and Silesia. Numerous archaeological findings of imported Scandinavian products prove contacts to Nordic Bronze Age peoples. So we can see that the Amber trading route is still operational. 

And here is something that beggars belief:

The archaeologists agree he spiral rings like those from Tollense valley have general parallels in younger context (Unetice) and this long-lived type of objects supports the idea that they may have functioned as ingots. The archaeologists believe that the Tollense valley tin rings provide evidence for the trade and transport of tin in small standardised units suitable for ad hock small scale use.  So the archaeologists agree that these are trade ingots. But guess what? Archaeologists "don't know where these tin ingots came from" !?

They know that at least some people involved in the Tollense battle came from south of Germany, more precisely from Silesia. They know that Silesia has been for at least 1000 years an important metallurgical center. They know that Silesia is located next to the biggest tin mine in continental Europe. They know that the Tollense river valley is located between Laba (Elbe) and Oder rivers, bang on the Amber trading route, which was used for transporting tin and bronze from the area of the Ore mountains to the South Baltic coast for at least one thousand years. And the archaeologists still don't know where did the tin come from?

What do you think is the most probable source of tin ingot torcs found on the Tollense valley battlefield?  And do you still believe that this was a battle between the invading Silesians and the locals? 

This is what I think happened in Tollense valley. A caravan transporting large quantities of tin and other metals was moving from Laba (Elbe) valley, probably from a harbor or a large settlement. The metal came from Silesia, the area around Ore mountain. The caravan had many people, traders and other travelers and many pack animals. It moved along Tollense river, then along Peene river towards Oder river, probably towards another harbor or a settlement. Of it could have been moving in the opposite direction. The caravan was protected by armed guard which consisted of both horsemen and infantrymen. These soldiers were either traveling with the caravan from Silesia or were assigned to the caravan at a port somewhere in Laba (Elbe) valley. This was a normal practice since the first caravans started crisscrossing the world. One of the most important duties of any country was always to protect its roads and in this way allow free movement of people and goods. These guards were armed with bronze weapons: arrows with bronze arrowheads, bronze spears, axes, swords, daggers...In Silesia bronze was common and cheep so it is to be expected that the Silesians were armed with bronze weapons. The caravan was attacked by a gang or even a small marroding army which probably came from the north west, probably from the Jutland peninsula or even further north or from across Laba (Elbe) river. These people were armed with more primitive weapons, arrows with flint arrowheads, wooden spears and wooden clubs. Denmark and Sweden have huge flint deposits so it is quite possible that the attackers came from there. The attackers, who probably outnumbered the people in the caravan, waited hidden for the caravan to appear and launched a surprised attack from the forest which surrounded the river. They first pelted the caravan with arrows, targeting the mounted soldiers first. This is why we have dead people mixed with dead horses. Remember the clustered bronze arrowheads mixed with human and horse bones? Were they the arrows which the horsemen never got to take out of their quivers? I believe that the arrows with the bronze arrowheads were fired by mounted archers. The  proof for that is the bronze arrowhead which was found embedded in a scull. This arrowhead could only have been fired from a position above the head, which would indicate that the archer was on a horseback. Also the flint arrowhead which was found embedded in a humerus (upper arm) bone is embedded under such angle that the shot must have come from below, meaning that the arrow was fired by a foot soldier shooting a mounted warrior. Anyway what happened then was the attackers sprayed all the other people from the caravan with arrows. The arrows were fired from the other side too. Then the frontal assault ensued which resulted in hand to hand battle. Who won? That is difficult to say. It is most probable that the attackers won. The number of dead would suggest that this is what happened. The attackers killed all the people from the caravan, collected all the metal, metal armor and weapons and other valuables and remaining pack animals and returned back to wherever they came from. Whatever was left on the scene is whatever they missed. They left all the dead Silesians where they fell. They maybe even left their own dead at the scene if their losses were great, or they could have carried their dead with them or burned them and carried the ashes or buried the ashes somewhere in the area. 

And this is it. This is my interpretation of what happened in Tollense valley. It is based on archaeological data currently available from the site. This can of course all change in the future with new discoveries and my story could become just a failed speculation. But for now I believe that this is much better interpretation of the events than the official one. What do you think? 

5 years later, 28th of October 2020...