Swords And Spears Of The Yotvingians – A Long-Forgotten Ancient Warrior Culture Discovered In Poland

Swords And Spears Of The Yotvingians – A Long-Forgotten Ancient Warrior Culture Discovered In Poland

Swords And Spears Of The Yotvingians – A Long-Forgotten Ancient Warrior Culture Discovered In Poland

Archeologists dating back about 1,000 years have found over 500 swords, spears and knives that once belonged to an ancient Poland’s long-disappeared tribe-the Baltic Yotvingians.

The Yotvingians arrived in the Suwałki region in the mid-first millennium AD with strong cultural ties to the Lithuanians and Prussians and populated territories that now straddle Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.

Before they were gradually incorporated into the larger Slavic and Germanic communities surrounding them, the Yotvingians spoke a language related to Old Prussian. Considered to be great hunters and famous for their warrior culture, the team of archaeologists describe the location of the new discoveries as “the largest Yotvingian cemetery in the early Middle Ages.”

Jerzy Siemaszko is a Suwałki District Museum archaeologist. And he told reporters that the district has wonderful traditions and rituals of Yotvingian past. The weapons were found in a “very unusual crematory cemetery,” according to a study in Poland In, in a location where the remains of funeral pyres were deposited with gifts for the dead in the layer approximately 20-30 centimeters down below the surface of the ground.

Close-up image of Yotvingian spearheads unearthed at the site in Suwałki, Poland.

Herodotus recorded in the 5th century BC “Neuri Νευροί” as a warrior tribe living beyond the Scythian farmers, and this coincides with the Narew river Yotvingian linguistic territory. It is also recorded that the Yotvingians were employed as mercenaries by the Kievan ruler during the treaty between the Kievan Rus, Prince Igor and the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire in AD 944.

In another historic treaty, this time with the Teutonic Knights in 1260, the region inhabited by the Yotvingian was called ‘Terre Getuizintarum’ and this ancient culture was finally eradicated by the Teutonic Knights by 1283. However, a 1860s census by the clergy of the Belarus Grodno revealed as many as 30,929 inhabitants still identified with ancient Yatviags.

The head of the Suwałki District Museum, Jerzy Brzozowski, told Poland In that this discovery was a “truly priceless” cache of jewellery, arms and tools, which were all found in a small area of only 100 cubic meters.

Map showing the territory of the Yotvingians and other Baltic tribes c. 1200.

Jerzy Siemaszko, another archaeologist from the Suwałki Regional Museum, added that the team of scientists excavated “over 500 artifacts”, which together represents “the most valuable early-medieval cemetery of the Yotvingian culture ever discovered.”

In fact, the find is so important that the archaeologists will not disclose the specific location. They informed the press that “tomb raiders” had pillaged the ancient necropolis before they got to it, and they estimate that up to 1000 artifacts were stolen. They are, however, planning a large exhibition in 2020 to showcase the newly discovered artefacts.

It was only five weeks ago Ancient Origins wrote a news piece about archaeologists in Poland discovering a Germanic warrior’s hoard at a 2,000-year-old burial site, alongside cremation urns and 12 burial pits, dating back to the first century BC, near Kostrzyn (to the east of Poland’s modern-day border with Germany).

The team of archaeologists from the  Kostrzyn Fortress Museum were forced to keep the precise location of the cemetery private, as they were also concerned about illegal treasure hunters raiding the site.

Spearheads, helmets and other items found at the Germanic burial site in Kostrzyn, Poland, earlier this year.

Maybe the most famous case of grave robbing is told in a November 2019 History.com article, when in 1978 two men were charged with having stolen the corpse of the revered film actor Sir Charles Chaplin from a cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, located in the hills above Lake Geneva, near Lausanne, Switzerland.

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