The Early Iron Age
Face urns (c. 650-125 BC)
In Early Iron Age Pomerania the custom of burial in richly decorated urns became widespread. These urns had modelled and incised decoration portraying human faces, dress accessories and weapons. Figural representations were also common (stylised human figures, hunting scenes, carts and horses in harness). This ornamentation provides a valuable source of information about the life of Early Iron Age communities. The origins of face urns remains a mystery. Some archaeologists believe that they derive from Etruscan Italy, where cremated human remains were buried in similar vessels known as Canopic jars. Others think that this tradition originated in northwestern Europe, where ‘eye urns’ appeared during the Late Bronze Age. These vessels may have developed over time into face urns, the finest examples of which appeared during the 6th century BC in Pomerania. The custom of urn burial, together with new forms of graves, were gradually adopted by societies throughout Greater Poland and ultimately reached as far as the territories around the upper Pripet via the river-basins of the Vistula and the Bug.