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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access June 17, 2022

Colonists and Natives. The Beginning of the Eneolithic in the Middle Warta Catchment. 4500–3500 BC

Danuta Żurkiewicz
From the journal Open Archaeology


The article presents the history of research and the latest archaeological discoveries of the Greater Poland Neolithic in the Middle Warta River catchment. I propose focusing on new areas of research that have potential but have not yet been conducted. It focuses on two social groups, the Funnel Beaker culture (FBC) and the Brześć Kujawski culture (BKC). The unsatisfactory level of knowledge about the development of these cultural communities in the region may be supplemented by recently conducted research. The discovery and excavation of the first megalithic tombs in Greater Poland, conducted with the help of LiDAR, was of great importance. Following this, more such cemeteries have been located. The re-analysis of previously excavated materials from the site in Kotowo determined that the early phase of FCB occurred around 3700 BC. A fruitful area for future study is the acquisition of unique BKC settlement evidence obtained from the site in Kąkolewo. Another important area that can supplement current understandings of cultural relations in this area is understanding the environmental background, which is to be served by the proposed palaeoenvironmental research, particularly near the cemetery in Sobota. Considering this new information will allow for a proper estimation of the role of Greater Poland in the transmission of cultural patterns that created the image of the Central European Plain in 4500–3500 BC.

1 Introduction

The Eneolithic (4500–3500 BC) was an important moment in the formation of the cultural and social image of large areas of Europe. This period is understood as the stage during which new social structures were created and is related to a demand for new types of “luxury” goods (not only products made of copper). This resulted in the creation of new qualities that characterized Europe for the following several millennia. The eneolithization process brought significant changes in European civilizations that can only be compared with much later processes that occurred in these areas during the Middle Bronze Age (1350–1100 BC). The scope, origin, and meaning of the processes that resulted in the building of a new kind of society during the Eneolithic are widely discussed within the vast spaces of the European Plain (Neustupný, 2008). The present treatise incorporates the areas of the Middle Warta catchment in Greater Poland into this discussion.

The inclusion of “colonists and natives” in the title of this article corresponds to the cultural background of complex social and economic processes connected with the decline of young Danubian communities in the Middle Warta catchment, identifiable with the Brześć Kujawski culture (BKC) and the emergence of a new “quality” in the Funnel Beaker culture (FBC). The main research question concerns the cultural identity of these societies. This is also referenced in a similar chapter in the monograph of Czerniak (1994, p. 110), to whom the following considerations are dedicated.

Czerniak’s (1994) main argument assumes that megalithic structures in Greater Poland were uncommon because their erection sanctioned the right to use the land by their builders. FBC societies had no need to legitimize their presence in this area, as they descended from local, Mesolithic roots (Wierzbicki, 2013). The recent discovery of the megalithic cemetery in Sobota, which is strictly connected with bog deposits in the area (Śmigielski, 1958; Żurkiewicz, Niebieszczański, & Bahyrycz, 2020), allows this hypothesis to be verified and a different approach to the discussed FBC phenomenon to be proposed.

This second approach is to consider the “colonization” concept, understood as the movement of FBC groups into an empty or sparsely populated area. The non-indigenous emergence of FBC communities in the region is considered chronologically to have occurred between 4000 and 3500 BC. The phenomenon of the spread of the FBC has been described by the suggestive title of Wierzbiski’s (2013) monography: “Wielka kolonizacja …” [The Great Colonization …]. According to him, this great colonization is evidenced in the rapid “explosion” of settlement data that contrasts the earlier settlement record of BKC communities. However, this approach is not fixed within the detailed microregional settlement studies, which would allow particular development strategies, the relation of FBC people to earlier inhabitants, and selected environmental elements to be traced. The research hypothesis adopted here concerns the possibility of a close spatial, temporal, and genetic relationship between the communities of two cultures characterized by different material inventories, namely, the FBC and BKC, who inhabited the study area in the Late Neolithic and Early Eneolithic, between 4500 and 3500 BC. In general, the research topics posed concern cultural change or rather the dynamics of culture, its duration, and change.

2 State of the Art – The Greater Poland 4500–3500 BC

The Late Neolithic societies of younger Danubian provenance in Greater Poland never witnessed monographic elaboration by researchers. Much attention to this cultural unit has instead been given to defining its proper name, which would accent its genetical connections. Therefore, several different names for the same cultural phenomenon function in the scientific discourse, including the Late Linear Pottery Culture, The Brześć Kujawski group of the Lengyel culture, and finally the Brześć Kujawski culture (BKC) (Czerniak, 1980, 2017; Grygiel, 1986, 2008; Jażdżewski, 1938; Kadrow, 2017; Kostrzewski, Chmielewski, & Jażdżewski, 1965; Wojciechowski, 1989). It is, however, relatively easy to define earlier Linear Pottery culture (LBK) material remains (comprising pottery with stroke ornamented pottery) from later ones, which are clearly connected with younger Danubian BKC communities. The last general view the BKC in Greater Poland consisted of a small number of sites (n = 36) of a younger chronology than LBK sites in this area (Jankowska, 1999). BKC sites in Greater Poland are grouped into two regions: along the Lower Barycz and Middle Obra Rivers. The most important BKC site in Greater Poland is the settlement in Racot in the Barycz River catchment area (Figure 1). Although the materials from this particular site have not yet been published, they bear evidence of a multi-phase settlement with housing structures comparable with those from the Kuyavia region, but with some local characteristics (Czerniak, 1980, 1985, 1987, 2002, 2008). More recent research, supported by schemes modelled from radiocarbon (14C) dating, indicates that the settlement in Racot existed for 335–390 years and was abandoned between 3970 and 3915 cal. BC (Czerniak et al., 2016). Despite the Kuyavia originated samples, this model points to the end of the BKC in the Polish Lowlands to 3805–3370 BC.

Figure 1 
               The distribution of FBC sites in the Middle Warta catchment (after Wierzbicki, 2013). Red dots – sites mentioned in the text. Green dots – potential megalithic cemeteries: (1) Dolsk district Śrem; (2) Wyrzeka district Śrem; (3) Sobota district Poznań; (4) Sierpówko district Szamotuły; (5) Kaźmierz district Szamotuły; (6) Chlewisk district Szamotuły; (7) Słopanowo district Szamotuły; (8 and 9) Budziszewko district Oborniki; (10) Stępuchowo district Wągrowiec.

Figure 1

The distribution of FBC sites in the Middle Warta catchment (after Wierzbicki, 2013). Red dots – sites mentioned in the text. Green dots – potential megalithic cemeteries: (1) Dolsk district Śrem; (2) Wyrzeka district Śrem; (3) Sobota district Poznań; (4) Sierpówko district Szamotuły; (5) Kaźmierz district Szamotuły; (6) Chlewisk district Szamotuły; (7) Słopanowo district Szamotuły; (8 and 9) Budziszewko district Oborniki; (10) Stępuchowo district Wągrowiec.

A long and rich history of research on the eastern FBC group has been presented by Wierzbicki (2013). However, this does not represent an exhaustive state of recognition of this culture in Greater Poland. Such a situation is the derivative of still unpublished crucial materials from linear investments (i.e. the A2 motorway and the Jamal-Europe gas pipeline) and the lack of microregional studies. As a result, the enormous ecumene of FBC communities in the Middle Warta catchment, spanning app. 11,212 km2 with at least 3,171 known sites illustrating at least 1,500 years of development, is still being described using typo-chronological schemes developed for adjacent regions (mostly Kuyavia). Until recently, not only the conventional periodization but also the chronometric one (i.e. that based on radiocarbon dating) was represented by quite a small dataset of 18 published dates, which more or less were connected with FBC contexts. A priceless compendium that has presented these quantitative data is the work of Wierzbicki (2013) mentioned earlier. It summarises the present state of knowledge of Greater Poland societies during the Neolithic and identifies areas where additional research is needed. Presently, this database is being enlarged thanks to a new research program focused on Middle Warta catchment Late Neolithic studies (Szmyt, Goslar, & Żurkiewicz, 2018).

Regarding the state of knowledge, researchers are beginning to go beyond the regional perspective and refer to the present discussion on the genesis of the FBC and indirectly to the issue of the emergence of megalithic burials in the study area. For now, at least two contradictory theories guide our attention to the emergence of the FBC. The first of those locates the “cradle” of the FBC pottery style along the Baltic coast from Holstein to the Middle Pomerania region (Kabaciński, Hartz, Raemaekers, & Terberger, 2015; Nowak, 2009, 2017). In this concept, the population substrate would be local hunter-gatherer groups who around 4200–4000 BC invented the characteristic funnel beaker pottery form. Afterwards, these new cultural traits spread from this area by means of migration and cultural transmission among both late Mesolithic groups as well as those that originated from younger Danubian cultures.

The second theory focuses on the roots of the FBC during its first centuries among Danubian Neolithic cultures (Czerniak & Kośko, 1993; Kukawka, 1991, 2010). An interesting approach is the attempt to turn attention to the emergence of the Beaker “package”; in other words, to analyse not only beaker forms but also all other ceramic features, sepulchral structures, agriculture, and settlement patterns that were characteristic of the entire FBC ecumene. The latest research shows that it was during the transition between the Mesolithic and Neolithic socio-economic spheres around 3900–3800 BC that elements of the Beaker package, including Wiórek and Luboń ceramic styles, appeared in the Lake District of Greater Poland (Czerniak, 2018; Rzepecki, 2006, 2011). These cultural interactions were strongly influenced by the Michelsberg culture. A crucial aspect of the creation of the Beaker package was the emergence of monumental burials in the north, in which migrations of eastern and southern FBC groups are clearly visible. This concept is a long-standing archaeological explanation (i.e. Childe, 1949; Rzepecki, 2011). The chronometric evidence for this hypothesis has been presented by Czerniak et al. (2016), Grygiel (2016), and Kukawka (2015), and it has also been supported by DNA analyses by Fernandes et al. (2018). Also, the possibility that some aspects of the aquatic ritual sphere of early FBC communities were derived from younger Danubian societies has been evidenced by the current author (Żurkiewicz, 2019).

The interrelationships of the BKC and FBC in Greater Poland are illustrated by the co-occurrence of both cultures at the same sites, often within the same features (Jankowska, 1999). This situation was noted, for example, at the BKC settlement in Racot. Many FBC features were discovered here, including special ones containing traces of rituals and cannibalism. These remains are dated to III phase of the FBC (4200–3800 BC); however, they do occur earlier within the direct neighbourhood of the FBC community, dated to phase I (4000–3700 BC), as confirmed by new radiocarbon dates from Kotowo (Lipińska, 1963; Żurkiewicz, 2020).

The definition of interactions with both the cultural and natural environments is a crucial element in this research. An essential method for presenting the local environment of the late Atlantic Holocene stage in the Middle Warta catchment is the palynological analysis of material derived from peatlands and lakes along the Obra River catchment in Osowa Góra and from the Budzyńskie Lake (Ołtuszewski, 1957; Szafrański, 1968, 1973). The pollen diagrams from these sites are quite consistent. In the scope of this research, it seems that during the existence of the FBC, the pollen record marked the first significant impact of humans on the landscape, wherein a decrease in pine and simultaneous rise in birch and the appearance of mistletoe, rye, and wheat are observable during this period. This change in the forest structure resulted from the slash and burn technique used by the FBC people to clear areas for cultivation (i.e. Nowak, 2019).

Essentially important are the recent palaeoenvironmental studies in the Bruszczewo microregion (Figure 1). A variety of methods applied to the cores obtained from drilling conducted in the peatland resulted in the reconstruction of mainly the Bronze Age palaeoenvironment. As with the palynological diagrams, the lithological and geochemical results pointed to anthropogenic transformations of the environment. The oldest recognized local pollen assemblage spans the timeframe between the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (Haas & Wahlmüller, 2010). At that time, the forest was dominated by oak, hazel, and pine. Within the profile, the presence of plantain, sorrel, and nettle suggests the human intervention in the landscape. The forest might have comprised clearings overgrown by Apiaceae and Asteraceae, while in more dry and clear spaces, juniper and heather were dominant.

Also essential is the pollen diagram from Wonieść Lake (Dörfler, 2011) (Figure 1). In total, 23 local pollen assemblage zones were distinguished with the use of 10 14C dates from botanical macroremains and pollen concentrations. Levels C and D were dated to between 5700 and 4050 cal. BC, thus corresponding to the Atlantic palaeoclimatological period (8000–4800 BC). The threshold between levels C and D is marked by an ash expansion. The first appearance of cereals was dated here to 5700 cal. BC. Level E (4050–3600 cal. BC) evidences a significant change in the forest composition manifested in a maximum in decline of elm. After 3600 and up to 3340 cal. BC, an increasing degree of anthropogenic traces are recorded (i.e. plantain or sorrel). However, afterwards – from 3340 to 3160 cal. BC – a regeneration of forests began, which indicates less human activity in the landscape.

From the beginning of the Neolithic, the area of central Greater Poland was included in the system of communication routes connecting north with south and east with west (Wrocław-Poznań corridor – Kozłowski & Nowak, 2019). A kind of communication node, in which this research area fits exactly, could survive until the beginning of the 4th millennium BC and influences a specific cultural picture, not only of this region but also of the Lowland areas communicating along this route (e.g. Kuyavia, Pałuki, Pyrzyce). The poor recognition of local communities at the transition between the Neolithic and Eneolithic contrasts with much better explored neighbouring regions and underestimates the role of Greater Poland in shaping the image of the Eneolithic community throughout the Lowlands in this part of Europe. To address this research question, the proposed hypothesis must be verified in accordance with newly discovered materials and sources and also the reinterpretation of the existing research perspectives. The new materials comprise BKC settlement remains in Kąkolewo 37, megalithic barrows from Sobota, and other sites and palaeoenvironmental and settlement data from the Middle Warta catchment (Figure 1). This also presents the possibility of a new methodological interpretation of the examined research area. An analysis of memory practices indicates that monumental constructions as well as smaller features reused by other communities are particularly important for these considerations (e.g. Pyzel, 2018).

3 What Is New in the Neolithic of Greater Poland

The current research serves to illustrate cultural relations in Greater Poland between 4500 and 3500 BC and is at different stages of advancement. These studies can be divided into several points as follows.

3.1 First Megalithic Cemeteries in the Middle Warta Catchment

An important indication that bonds locally differentiated European FBC groups is a funerary tradition that is manifested in the emergence of monumental unchambered tombs (Czerniak, 2018; Kozłowski & Nowak, 2019). Until recently, the state of knowledge concerning the Greater Poland Neolithic disallowed this region from being incorporated into the discussion of the FBC megalithic phenomenon. This was due to a peculiar and confusing situation, in which despite the existence of at least 3,000 known settlements in the region and their presence at the crossroads of neighbouring agglomerations, there are no funerary remains. To confront this picture with the knowledge that megalithic tombs occur in the adjacent regions creates a difficult necessity to interpret this area as a funerary barren land surrounded by vast concentrations of cemeteries in Germany, Pomerania, Kuyavia, Lower Silesia, and Lesser Poland. The absence of megalithic constructions in Greater Poland was interpreted as an alimentary function of this type of funeral feature in this region. As such, it is believed that megalithic tombs constituted the rights to specified terrain. Therefore, their absence might reflect no need for such legitimization and consequently the Mesolithic roots of local FBC communities (Wierzbicki, 2013).

The presence of unchambered Kuyavian tombs in Greater Poland remains unrecognized and has not been taken into account in the discussion of the local FBC agglomeration. Obviously, until recently, this was appropriate, as no megalithic funerary constructions were recognized in this area. However, the technological breakthrough of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanning in Poland has brought thousands of new sites of various ages to light and has significantly impacted this perspective (e.g. Rola & Niebieszczańsk, 2019).

LiDAR has, for example, led to the discovery and verification of a megalithic cemetery in a forest just 10 km north of the outskirts of the modern city of Poznań, at Sobota site 52 (Figures 1 and 2a). This necropolis comprises five long barrows arranged in a peculiar fan-like pattern. The longest measures 145 m, while the rest exceed 100 m in length. Small-scale archaeological excavations conducted by the author in 2020 indicate that these are undoubtedly FBC funerary structures and that they resemble in some ways the unchambered Kuyavian type megaliths. However, some features are original and unmatched by other sites in the Polish Lowlands. The results of the excavations, cores, and magnetic survey undertaken in Sobota in 2020 have provided enlightening preliminary results that will be further verified in the future.

3.2 Lost and Found: Power of LiDAR and Other Megalithic Tombs in Greater Poland

Completely new possibilities for registering sites and identifying their morphological appearance have been possible thanks to LiDAR scanning – in Poland, the ISOK (Informatyczny System Osłony Kraju [Information Technology System for Protecting the Country]) state program has covered nearly 100% of the country’s surface. Based on this database, it was possible to discover the first megalithic tombs in the Middle Warta catchment – in Sobota (Żurkiewicz et al., 2020). However, according to the initial information obtained by the author, this discovery is not the only one in the discussed region. The results of preliminary LiDAR research have identified 10 additional sites that are potentially cemeteries (Wyrzeka and Dolsk in Śrem district, Sierpówko, Kaźmierz, and Chlewiska Słopanowo in Szamotuły district, Budziszewko in Oborniki district, and Stępuchowo in Wągrowiec district) (Figures 1(1–10) and 2).

The next step will be to verify the function of these potential cemeteries by means of non-invasive (magnetometry) and invasive (drillings) surveys. The acquired core samples are anticipated to be abundant in organic material that can serve for radiocarbon dating and possibly other analyses (paleoenvironmental studies). The expected effect of this work is also to document these structures in the form of a catalogue, which will serve not only for their protection by the heritage service but also to situate them within a local settlement context. Such reconnaissance for new features can reveal the potential and scale of the discussed issue of megalithic FBC funerary structures in Greater Poland. By evidencing origin connections, constructions analogies, and the chronological scale of this phenomenon, it will be possible to close this essential gap in our knowledge, not only in central Greater Poland but also in the scope of processes that happened at the beginning of the 4th millennium BC over vast areas of Central Europe.

3.3 The First Phases of FBC in Greater Poland

The results of the re-analysis of artefacts obtained by employees of the Archaeological Museum in Poznań in the middle of the 20th century have also contributed to the understandings of cultural relationships in Greater Poland during the Eneolithic. Specifically, the re-examination of material from Kotowo site 1 has reshaped understandings of the initial phases of the FBC in this area (Lipińska, 1963; Żurkiewicz, 2020).

The currently available FBC materials from Kotowo site 1 include 522 pottery fragments, 36 flints, approximately 56 bone fragments, and 29 pieces of daub. The technological and stylistic analysis of the pottery allows for the identification of two cultural affiliations: FBC, with which most materials are associated, and the Globular Amphora culture (GAC). In relation to the original study by Lipińska (1963), no unambiguous stylistic and technological features were found in the collection during the re-analysis that would allow the identification of the Lengyel-Polgár circle (Żurkiewicz, 2020; Figure 3A).

Many of the captured technological and stylistic features from Kotowo support the possibility of an early date for the materials from Feature 1 (Clusters 1–3) associated with the first “Sarnowo” phase. These features also have numerous references within two better known, chronologically early sites in the Greater Poland area: Markowice site 26 and Mirkowice site 33 (Kabaciński & Sobkowiak-Tabaka, 2005; Prinke, 2008). All the “loose” FBC ceramics, probably obtained from the surface of one of these excavations, have the features of a non-homogeneous set and have with some caution been associated with the IIIC – IVA phases (3400–2700 BC).

The possibility of an early date for Feature 1 from Kotowo has been confirmed by three radiocarbon (14C) dates (Figure 3b). Organic material adhering to ceramic body fragments technologically unambiguously related to the FBC from Clusters 1 and 2 and a fragment of animal bone from Cluster 1 were analysed. Three dates were successively obtained and demonstrate the early date of this site:

  • Poz -102674 4960 ± 40 BP – from the remains of organic matter from a pottery fragment from Cluster 1

  • Poz -102283 5080 ± 40 BP – from the remains of organic matter from a pottery fragment from Cluster 2

  • Poz -101632 5000 ± 40 BP – from fragments of unidentified animal bone from Cluster 1 (1.8% N, 6.4% C, δ 13C = −20.8‰, δ 15N = +6.7‰)

Figure 2 
            Examples of megalithic cemeteries from the Middle Warta catchment. (a) Sobota district Poznań; (b) Kaźmierz district Szamotuły; (c) Słopanowo district Szamotuły. See Figure 1 for site locations. Visualization was made by T. Wiktorzak.

Figure 2

Examples of megalithic cemeteries from the Middle Warta catchment. (a) Sobota district Poznań; (b) Kaźmierz district Szamotuły; (c) Słopanowo district Szamotuły. See Figure 1 for site locations. Visualization was made by T. Wiktorzak.

Figure 3 
                  Kotowo, site 1 Grodzisk district, Feature 1. (a) Selection of FBC early phase pottery; (b) calibration results of radiocarbon dates for Feature 1 in OxCal v4.3.2 (after Żurkiewicz, 2020; Reimer et al., 2020).

Figure 3

Kotowo, site 1 Grodzisk district, Feature 1. (a) Selection of FBC early phase pottery; (b) calibration results of radiocarbon dates for Feature 1 in OxCal v4.3.2 (after Żurkiewicz, 2020; Reimer et al., 2020).

When analysing the Kotowo site location, it is also worth relating it to the FBC settlement concentrations identified in the middle catchment area of the Warta River (Wierzbicki, 2013, Figure 4). Kotowo is located on the southern edge of the Kotowo anthropo- mesoregion designated here. At the same time, it is in the vicinity of the largest concentration of BKC sites, which in the central Warta basin are concentrated on the lower Barycz and middle Obra River (Jankowska, 1999, Figure 1; Pyzel, 2010, p. 333, Figure 8).

Kotowo can now be considered the oldest FBC site in Greater Poland that has been absolutely dating, regardless of whether it relates to the proposed Phase I or the beginning of Phase II. The exclusion of the possibility that this site was inhabited by communities connected with Lengyel-Polgar circle additionally validates the correlation of the obtained early dates with FBC materials. However, the proposal by Wiślański (1979) that the earliest FBC settlements were linked with the frontiers of “old agricultural centers” (p. 199) remains valid. In the case of Kotowo, this would be the BKC settlement in Kąkolewo (see below) and Racot. An inspiring issue for future research is the broader examination of the relationships linking closely related communities identified with the FBC and the BKC both spatially and temporally.

3.4 Cultural and Natural Landscape

Unfortunately, the large concentration of FBC sites in central Greater Poland does not provide a good opportunity for settlement studies. This is because the observed settlement network comprises nearly 1,500 years of habitation in the area, which in combination with the lack of microregional studies and insufficient 14C dating precludes the correlation of megalithic tombs with the settlement data. However, multiaspect palaeoenvironmental studies offer a means for analysing the intensity of settlement processes before and during the erection of the megalithic tombs.

As presented earlier, the most reliable reconstructions of anthropressure (all human activities – both planned and accidental – affecting the natural environment) to date have been derived from the southern margins of the Middle Warta catchment. The palaeoenvironmental reconstruction proposed here will expand this research to include data from the central part of this catchment. Appropriate sites for such analysis are located near the newly discovered megalithic FBC cemetery in Sobota – in the northern margins of both the Middle Warta catchment and the local FBC group. An oval-shaped peatland is adjacent several meters to the east of the cemetery, while a dried lake is present a few hundred meters to the north – all in all providing the possibility to perform palaeoecological investigations. A previous study in this region comprises Strzeszyńskie Lake (Pleskot, Tjallingii, Makohonienko, Nowaczyk, & Szczuciński, 2017), located just several kilometres south of the Sobota cemetery. The palaeoclimatic reconstruction made for this sedimentary record reveals several periods of increased humidity during the 5th and 4th millennia BC in this area. This conclusion might be applicable to the small swamp and dried-out lake near Sobota, which at the time of the emergence of the megaliths might have been stable lakes.

A significant factor for the study proposed here is the cultural background of the study area. Between 4500 and 3500 BC, important factors emerged in the expansion of the FBC and BKC communities. A certain lack of recognition of BKC communities in Greater Poland may be supplemented with discoveries from the central part of the Middle Warta catchment.

At a distance of approximately 6 km from the aforementioned settlement in Kotowo, a section of a BKC settlement located in the area of the village of Kąkolewo (Grodzisk district), site 37, was rescue excavated in 2017 by a private company. Against the poor state of research on BKC communities in Central Poland outlined earlier, the materials from this site seem to be of particular importance. These materials represent a fragment of a probably vast settlement, practically undisturbed by later habitation. Moreover, the immovable sources registered at this site not only contribute to their rich cultural content but also have well-preserved animal bones that offer the opportunity for radiocarbon dating that will place this site on an absolute chronology scale.

The preliminary assessment of the obtained materials shows that they are unique among BKC sources so far recovered in Greater Poland. The unique pottery style combined with a favourable, homogeneous cultural landscape, densely distributed features, and the presence of well-preserved archaeozoological materials provide unique cognitive possibilities. Thus, work is currently underway to analyse the various sources from the Kąkolewo site 37.

4 Summary and Conclusions

The area of the Middle Warta catchment comprises an important aggregation of the Neolithic Funnel Beaker culture settlements than spanned nearly 1,500 years. Over that time, this area witnessed important cultural developments that contributed to the so-called beaker package, including the emergence of Wiórek and Luboń pottery styles. The lack of monumental funerary construction in comparison with adjacent regions has also been proposed to indicate that FBC communities developed locally in Greater Poland. The discovery of previously unknown megalithic structures in Greater Poland, including the cemetery in Sobota, has significantly changed this perspective. Preliminary results show that our present knowledge of the megalithic phenomenon in Greater Poland remains underestimated and overlooked.

The proposed interdisciplinary studies on cultural change in the context of the relationship of FBC and BKC communities with their environment are not only lacking for the Greater Poland Neolithic but are also a rare and underestimated direction of research in the discipline of archaeology in general. Thus, this article aimed to review the current state of research while including new data and areas for future research that will help to appropriately estimate the role of Greater Poland in the transmission of patterns that created the cultural view of the Central European Plain from 4500 to 3500 BC.

What is New in the Neolithic? – A Special Issue Dedicated to Lech Czerniak, edited by Joanna Pyzel, Katarzyna Inga Michalak & Marek Z. Barański.


Megalithic tombs from the Greater Poland area, presented in this article, were discovered thanks to the work of Tomasz Wiktorzak from Łupawa Megaliths Society, who shared the results of his LiDAR analyses with the author and for that I am extremely grateful.

  1. Funding information: This work was funded by the National Science Centre, Poland, under research project No 2017/01/X/HS3/00743, obtained as part of the MINIATURE 1 project.

  2. Conflict of interest: The author states no conflict of interest.

  3. Data availability statement: Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.


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Received: 2021-01-15
Revised: 2022-01-21
Accepted: 2022-04-25
Published Online: 2022-06-17

© 2022 Danuta Żurkiewicz, published by De Gruyter

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