DUNINO, POLAND (REUTERS) - Near the village of Dunino in Poland's south-west Legnica region, archaeologists are exploring a huge, almost perfectly preservedBronze Age cemetery.
During development-led excavations in the area set aside for the planned S3 motorway, archaeologists were expecting to find remains from the battle of Katzbach - one of the most important engagements of the Napoleonic Wars, which took place in 1813 near Legnica.
Instead, they came across the cemetery, which was in use between 3,300 and 2,800 years ago. Typically of the Lusatian culture of the region at that time, bodies were cremated before the remains were buried, explained Bartosz Karolczyk, one of the archaeologists working on the site.
"The deceased person's body was placed on a pyre and incinerated. The remains after cremation were put into urns and the urns buried in the ground. Often there were also other vessels and grave gifts buried next to the urns," he explained.
The team working on the site were able to deduce a lot about the status of the people buried there from the nature of their graves. Some of them must have been wealthy as their graves were equipped with dozens of secondary vessels, some of them with engraved decorations, which probably originally contained gifts for the dead such as food and jewelry, including pins, earrings and pendants.
The archaeologists have also found a few tumuli, or burial mounds, which were plundered. In one of them the urn was placed on a pile of bones - possibly victims sacrificed to honor the deceased member of a local elite.
Archaeological explorations are set to continue until late autumn. The archaeological team say they hope to learn more about the Lusatian culture.
Findings from the dig are expected to go on display in the future at a local museum.