JANUARY 2019

Cinerary Urn from Rąb Cemetery

Popielnica z cmentarzyska w Rębie - plakatThe picturesque Kashubian Lake Region was a place of rich prehistorical settlements. One of the most interesting periods for archaeologists is the early Iron Age (approx. 700-400/300 BC). It is then that the forming of the Pomeranian culture occurred.

The elementary findings regarding the Pomeranian culture are vast crematory cemeteries with box graves. The burial chambers, built out of stones and stone slabs, contained several to a dozen cinerary urns containing cremated human bones. The shallow location of these graves as well as increasingly intense farming processes (especially deep ploughing using machines) caused occasional discoveries and uncovering of whole collections of urns within graves to occur relatively often in the 20th century. Archaeologists were informed of many of these instances and proceeded to secure the location of the finding as well as the artefacts.

Archaeological exploration in the Rąb village (Powiat Kartuzy, Gmina Przodkowo) was undertaken in 1989 and 1991 as a direct result of an accidental discovery. In the years 1997-2000 regular rescue research digs were carried out at this post, which allowed the entire expanse of the post to be examined. During the exploration, 49 archaeological objects were found, some of which were graves and accompanying objects: hearths, concentrations of stones, etc.

The presented cinerary urn was excavated in Rąb, after which it was reconstructed. It is identified as a so-called Face Urn with modelled eyes and a nose. The belly exhibits an image of hands. The ears of the vessel are adorned with bronze earrings with amber beads.

On account of modern archaeology, it is now thought that there had been attempts at recreating the individual characteristics of the departed. Additional decorative elements, such as the depiction of hands, guide us into a world of the symbolic culture of the inhabitants of Pomerania. In prehistorical graphics and sculpture, they illustrated the blessing as well as the punishing might of a deity.

The human bones from this cinerary urn have been examined by an anthropologist. The vessel contained the remains of two people: a woman, approximately 20-30 years old, and a child, approximately 0-7 years old.

The Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk possesses in its stores a rich collection of face cinerary urns from the Pomeranian culture, tens of vessels in various formats. A major selection of them is displayed at the exhibition in the Naturalists’ House, in the headquarters of the Museum on Mariacka Street 25/26.

Curator: Piotr Fudziński
Text: Piotr Fudziński 
Photographs: Zofia Grunt, Dorota Rudnicka, Adam Kamrowski 
Graphic design: Lidia Nadolska


The Ancient Object of the Month can be viewed in the lobby of the Naturalists’ House at Mariacka Street 25/26 in Gdańsk.

Map: https://archeologia.pl/en/dom-przyrodnikow/contact-us
Opening hours: https://archeologia.pl/en/dom-przyrodnikow/opening-hours

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