For centuries the Polish lands were a sort of a ‘promenade’ used by various peoples for passage and influencing earlier settlers in different ways. These wanderings can be followed with the use of archaeological sources when next to the cultures we already recognize there appear new ones completely different. At the end of the 3rd century B.C. on the north-west shores of the Black Sea there appeared Bastarnae and Scirii. They had contacts with Greek colonies in Kalatis (Constanta) and Olbia, later deeper in the Balkan Peninsula they fought with the Thracians and Illyrians, they also supported Mecedonian rulers defending themselves from the Roman expansion. There are debates concerning the ethnic status of Bastarnae as it is difficulty to say whether they were of Celtic or Germanic origin. Scirii however are recognized as a Germanic tribe. Migration of Bastarnae and Scirii is the first sign of movement among the Germanic peoples. Their way to the Jutland Peninsula led through the Polish lands. Most probably one of the traces of Bastarnae and Scirii passage is a crematory burial place of the Jastorf culture discovered in the 90s of the 20thcentury in Michałów Piaska at the Kamienna river. The culture called Jastorf had a great influence on the culture named by archaeologists as the Przeworsk culture, whose people were responsible for creation of iron production centers in the Świętokrzystkie Mountains, in Mazovia and Silesia.
Migration of nations in the 3rd century B.C. took place during increased cultural influence of the Celtic world. Groups of Celtic people lived back then in enclaves in the southern part of the Polish lands (Upper and Lower Silesia, vicinity of Cracow). A Celtic settlement is also known from the territory of our province – it is the site in Pełczyska in the Złota commune. Lately we have noted more and more traces of Celtic peoples stay, i.e. Opatkowice Murowane in the Jędrzejów commune, Michałowice in the Czarnocin commune. The Celts played a significant role influencing local cultures including the Przeworsk culture which started to be distinguished from the end of the 3rd century B.C. Though such Celtic skills as turning pottery on the lath were not adopted, weapon produced in Celtic workshops was willingly used. Characteristic long swords in iron sheaths found in burial places of warriors of the Przeworsk culture from our region is an unquestionable proof of that (Korytnica in the Sobków commune, Pawłowice in the Michałów commune, Beszowa in the Łubnice commune). Also under the Celtic influence fibula used for fastening robes became widely-used. There is however no clear evidence for Celtic craftsmen passing on the knowledge how to obtain iron from ore. There is a possibility that some metallurgical centers on such lands as Mazovia or the Świętokrzyskie region became active still in the 2nd century B.C. but it is difficult to see Celtic inspiration in this very fact. It is becoming evident that the basic role in spreading the skills of obtaining iron in slag-pit furnaces belonged to the Germanic element.
Metallurgical centers in Europe using slag-pit furnaces according to K. Bielenin
On the turn of centuries the Roman Empire’s borders reached the Rhine and Danube. At the same time the Celts withdrew from the territory of Czech and Moravia. In their place Germanic tribes of Marcomanni and Quadi arrived. They were intermediaries in trading exchange with the territories of the ‘inside’ of Barbaricum – the area which was outside of the Roman rule. It was then that the Polish lands started receiving imported goods from the Roman provinces: bronze and glass utensils, silver and gold coins, terra sigilata pottery impressed in moulds, glass beads, bronze fibulas and even armour. Tribal chiefs to some extent could have adopted some of Roman habits which is visible in sets of pottery and wine drinking utensils found in the burial place called ‘prince graves’ by archaeologists. Most probably the dishes were used for the consumption of local drinks, however the drinking utensils were Roman. It is then justified to call this time the period of Roman influence or shortly the Roman period. The latter one seems more appropriate since the mentioned influences are frequently very superficial and deeper studies on the cultural relations between the Roman provinces and Barbaricum prove a wide and complex contacts, however their closer characteristics is often impossible. It is difficult to state whether and which Roman imports can be treated as evidence for trading exchange, paying tributes, handing in gifts and even war spoils. This is the time when the matallurgicalcenter in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains flourished. It is important to remember that the time covers over three hundred years until the Huns’ invasion and rapid migration of many tribes at the end of the 4th century A.D.
Finds from the ‘prince grave’ from Hobby (Denmark). Photo: Archives of the Świętokrzystkie Association of Industrial Heritage