Reed in Prehistoric European Archery? Remarkable Findings by Polish Scientists

Research on the potential use of common reed in the production of arrows in European prehistory has attracted considerable interest following the discovery of a particular  type of object dating back to the late Neolithic period (approximately 4500 years ago), found in the northeastern regions of Poland. Such objects, commonly interpreted as reed arrowshaft straighteners, have encouraged researchers to conduct in-depth analysis investigating the potential use of this raw material in prehistoric archery. To verify the properties of reed stems for arrow production and to understand the motives behind the manufacture and use of the reed arrows, a series of mechanical and experimental analyses were conducted. The results of the research undertaken by scholars from the University of Warsaw, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, and the Polish Academy of Sciences Museum of the Earth have recently been published in the „Archaeometry” journal.

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The origin of Late Neolithic amber ornaments in Poland

The area of the south-eastern shores of the Baltic Sea was in prehistory and is still today an area abundant in deposits of raw amber, as indicated, among other things, by the numerous Late Neolithic (3rd millennium BC) amber workshops and amber ornaments found on archaeological sites located in the Vistula Fens, south of the Gulf of Gdańsk. Therefore, it is puzzling that relatively few finished amber ornaments come from both these areas and the nearby region of north-eastern Poland. Among the few contemporary known ornaments are those from sites: Ząbie 10, Supraśl 3 and Supraśl 6, which are unique in this part of the prehistoric world. The selected artifacts were thus subjected to stylistic and technological analysis in order to determine where they were made, also taking into account the type of raw material used. The research showed that although the amber ornaments were most likely produced from material extracted in the south-eastern Baltic coastal zone (succinite, gedanite and gedano-succinite), they have no direct analogues there. 

Uszkodzone i niedokończone na różnych etapach obróbki wytwory bursztynowe pochodzące z warsztatów bursztyniarskich w okolicach wsi Niedźwiedziówka © K. Kwiatkowska, na licencji CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Damaged and unfinished amber artefacts at various stages of processing from amber workshops near the Niedźwiedziówka village
© K. Kwiatkowska, on licence CC BY-ND 4.0

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Eneolithic Travelers of the Bell Beakers in north-east Poland

In Supraśl, on the Polish-Belarusian border, unique objects of Bell Beaker communities were discovered. They might have been linked to distant regions of the Atlantic coast and the British Isles. Is it possible that the artefacts would be the traces of the Eneolithic travelers, who like Marco Polo, travelled thousands of miles in search of new, valuable and exotic raw materials and objects?

Obiekt rytualny ze stanowiska 3 w Supraślu © A. Cetwińska
Ritual feature from site 3 at  Supraśl
© A. Cetwińska

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