Project title: Rise or fall? Societies of Kujawy from Late Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age in the light of archaeological and specialised analyses
Project No: 2014/15//D/HS3/1304
Project lead: dr Łukasz Pospieszny
Project lead, institutional: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Project financing:National Science Center, 2014-2016
phone (22) 620-28-81 do 86
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
1. Research project objectives/ Research hypothesis
The aim of this project is to characterise and explain the socio-economic dynamics of Kujawy between the Late/Final Neolithic and Early/Middle Bronze Age (approx. 2900-1500 BC). The main problem aimed to be solved by the project is to find out if the observable variability of material culture and burial rituals of Kujavian societies in long-term perspective was caused by continuous development only or also by crises of economy and social organisation, and if this variability was influenced by arrival of new human populations, too? The starting point of the project are three hypotheses, based on current state of empirical and theoretical research. In the time period 2900-1500 BC in Kujawy (1) changes in economy took place and new subsistence strategies were developed, (2) new human populations appeared, initiating changes in material culture and burial rituals, (3) social relations - manifested in the burial rituals and humans' diet and health status - were transformed.
2. Research project methodology
The project is scheduled to 4 stages of research. The subject of the study will be 35 already discovered graves containing remains of79 people. Anthropological and taphonomic analyses will be carried out by an anthropologist at the Institute of Anthropology of AMU and will include: identification of sex, age, health status and stress markers, and taphonomic changes of skeletal remains. They will be used to test hypotheses 1-3, in terms of differences in economic strategies, degree of adaptation to environment, relationship between biological characteristics and form of burial and social position, and variability and meaning of burial ritual. Typo-chronological analyses of structure and equipment of graves will be done by PI, classified materials will be subjected to comparative and statistics analyses. Radiocarbon (14C) AMS dating of 58 individuals will be outsourced to Poznań Radiocarbon Laboratory, results will be processed using Bayesian statistics. Comprehensive results will be used to test hypotheses 1-3, in terms of variability of burial ritual and dynamics of population and socio-economic changes.
The study of ancient DNA (analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes) will be conducted by geneticist at aDNA Laboratory of AMU (aDNA isolation, libraries preparation; sequencing will be outsourced to external institutions). Studies using next- generation sequencing (NGS) will be made for all individuals and allow to test hypotheses 2 and 3 in terms of presence of immigrant populations in Kujawy and kinship relations in communal graves and at cemeteries.
Measurements of stable isotopes of carbon (513C) and nitrogen (515N) will be outsourced to Poznań Radiocarbon Laboratory. They will be performed for all human individuals and 50 animal bones from two complexes from Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Results will be elaborated by PI, archaeozoologist and archaeologist/anthropologist, specialist in isotope studies. These analyses will allow for testing hypothesis 1 (diet related to subsistence strategy), 2 (atypical diet ofimmigrants) and 3 (diet as an indicator of social status).
Reconstruction of burial rituals will be conducted by PI. Sequences of burials practices, specific to particular societies, will be recreated on the basis of such characteristics as grave construction, arrangement of human remains, nature and location of grave goods, and will allow to test hypothesis 3 (relationship between the type of burial and social status).
3. Expected impact of the research project on the development of science, civilization and society
The application ofisotopic methods on a large-scale will allow to reconstruct trophic webs and human diets and local economic strategies, poorly known due to shortage ofsettlement features, and plant and animal remains. New data on biological and genetic structure and health status for a relatively large sample of human individuals will be collected. The project offers a good chance of detecting immigrant populations. Research will bring an increase of archaeological data and synthesis of knowledge of burial ritual, taking into account taphonomic and post-depositional processes. A large series of AMS 14C dates will be used to objectively assess the lifetime of cemeteries and collective graves and will fill a clear gap in chronometry of the beginning of Early Bronze Age and the turn of Early and Middle Bronze Age.