Wielbark Culture

The Wielbark culture takes its name from a village where the Germans discovered in 1873 a cemetery of more than 3000 tombs, attributed to the Gothic and Gépides peoples. Unfortunately, many of the stones in this cemetery have been moved and several burials damaged. The report of the first excavations, lost during the Second World War, was only found in 2004, and is about to be analyzed by a team of Polish researchers from Danzig, Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin.

The culture of Wielbark (or Willenberg-Malbork) began by covering the space of the earlier Oxhoeft culture, around the present-day cities of Danzig and Chełmno (which was called Culm until 1945). Subsequently, it extended to the Lake District (Kashubian Switzerland) and to the Poznań region to the south. In the first half of the, it created some villages along the Baltic Sea (that the Ancients then called “Sea of ​​Suevi”, Mare Suevicum or “Sea of ​​Germans”, Mare Germanicum), with the exception of the valley of the Vistula, before colonizing the mainland that would become (around the year 1000) Masovia and Little Poland on the eastern bank of the Vistula, then Ukraine, where they contributed to the birth of the culture of Chernyakov. In 2000, a cemetery attached to the Oksywie and Wielbark cultures was discovered in Czarnówko near Lauenburg (now Lębork) in Pomerania. Both cultures reached their peak before the emigration of the population to the southwest. A bronze kettle represents men wearing the suede bun.

There are clear differences between the Przeworsk culture and the Wielbark culture, and there is no contact between them. The peoples of Wielbark culture used both burial and cremation techniques for funerary rites. The use of one or the other use depends on the place. A characteristic of this culture, which it shares with the peoples of southern Scandinavia, is the constitution of tumuli covered with lithic alignments: stone circles, isolated stelae or various pavements. Unlike the Przeworsk culture, the Wielbark burials exclude weapons. The funeral offerings consist mainly of ornaments and costumes, although some tombs contain stirrups, which are the only warrior attributes found. Another aspect of Wielbark’s culture is the use of bronze to form ornaments and props. Money was little used and gold rarely. The presence of iron is exceptional.

The culture of Wielbark is paralleled with Jordan’s account of the departure of the Goths from the country of Scandza (Scandinavia) and their establishment in Gothiscandza. According to the writer Jordanès, they would have driven the Vandals by occupying these territories. The village of Gothiscandza was at the mouth of the Vistula, and this country was considered as that of Gutones (according to Pliny the Elder) or Gothones (at Tacitus): The names given by Pliny the Elder and Tacitus are close to * Gutaniz, restitution of the Proto-Germanic form of Gutans (also Gutar), names that the Goths (and the inhabitants of Gotland) gave themselves. While some authors have suggested that the number of three Gothic ships landing in the Vistula delta is purely symbolic, others claim that one of the vessels was that of the Gepids, another that of the Ostrogoths and the third that of the Visigoths. According to a third interpretation, these ships carried only the clan of the family of King Amal I. But archaeologists are tired of having to assign an ethnic identity to archaeological cultures, a delicate task (as shown by the case of the Man of Kennewick), and that is why they continue to name the cultures according to the toponyms of their first discovery. The absolute equivalence between the Wielbark and Gothic cultures is now being questioned, and it has been established that the development of Wielbark is not only linked to Scandinavian immigration: the Wielbark Culture would be First, an evolution of Oksywie’s native culture, of which it covers (at the beginning) exactly the geographical space, and of which it occupies the funerary sites. The villages were populated by native as well as Scandinavian arrivals. It is likely that the Goths were the dominant tribe of the region, insofar as Jordanès reports that the Goths have subjected the natives: It is thought today that the villages of the Goths (evoked by Jordanès and later by H. Schedel ) along the Mare Germanicum (present-day Poland), are the burial cemeteries where the stone circles and the isolated steles stand out (they refer to burial rites abundantly attested by the necropolises of Gotland and Götaland). These burials are found along the Vistula and in Kashubian Switzerland up tothe Koszalin region. They appeared in the second half of. But according to some contemporary German historians, the archaeological remains do not prove that there was indeed a Scandinavian immigration, which undermines the myth of origins (Origo gentis) built by Jordan. The Wielbark culture is a society of Scandinavian Goths and Gepids, and natives (mainly Vandals, Venedes and Ruges). During, the community of Wielbark abandoned its villages and emigrated to the country of Oium, Ukraine, where she founded a new empire.

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