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Kości zwierzęce i wyroby kościane z cmentarzyska w Świbiu / Animal bones and bone artefacts from cemetery at Świbie

DOI: 10.33547/Swibie2022.2.10

Kości zwierzęce i wyroby kościane z cmentarzyska w Świbiu / Animal bones and bone artefacts from cemetery at Świbie

by Renata Abłamowicz 1

1 – Dział Archeologii Muzeum Śląskie w Katowicach, ul. T. Dobrowolskiego 1, 40-205 Katowice

In: Michnik, M., Dzięgielewski, K. (2022). Cmentarzysko z wczesnej epoki żelaza w Świbiu na Górnym Śląsku. Tom 2, pp. 180-191. Gliwice: Muzeum w Gliwicach, Wydawnictwo Profil-Archeo.


Among the 548 features discovered in the Świbie cemetery (site 16), animal bones were identified in 28 human graves and four animal graves, which represent 4.9% and 0.7% of the total number respectively. Animal bones were most commonly found with the deceased buried in pit cremations (39.3%), and much less frequently in urned cremations (28.6%) and inhumation graves (14.2%). The fewest were found in biritual graves (14.2%). Only domestic mammals were used for ritual purposes. Pig bones (46.1%) and sheep/goat bones (36.3%) were recorded in the highest numbers, followed by cattle (14.7%) and horse (2.9%). However, in terms of the frequency of occurrence in graves, sheep/goat ranked first, ahead of cattle, with pig ranking third and horse fourth. The remains of sheep/goat were recorded in 13 graves, cattle in eight, pig in five and a horse in one.

Considering the data provided by the anthropological analysis, it should be noted that animal bones more often accompanied buried women (seven cases, including twice with children aged Infans I and II) than men (four cases), and were recorded only once in a child grave (Infans II). In the case of single-species admixtures, sheep/goat fragments were attested twice in a female grave and once in a male grave. Pig was found in the burial of a woman with a child (Infans II) and cattle in the grave of a child (Infans II). The approximate data obtained on the distribution of skeletal elements for each species show that, in the case of the pig, both the low-value parts of the carcass (hand and foot elements) and those of high culinary value (thoracic limb bones) were placed to graves at almost the same frequency. Bones of the head, vertebrae and ribs and bones of the pelvic limb were not recorded. In the case of sheep/goat and cattle, on the other hand, the consumable parts of the carcass were more numerous in the graves, especially the bones of the thoracic limb (sheep/goat) or the bones of the pelvic limb (cattle). Less valuable parts and slaughter waste were represented by bones of hand and foot. Also in these cases, head bones and vertebrae were observed to be missing and the number of ribs was relatively small.

Four animal graves were discovered in Świbie as well. Three of these were cremation burials in pits (38, 413, 450), probably single-species, in which sheep/goat was attested twice and pig once. The fourth represented a partial inhumation burial (398), in which the skeletal elements of cattle and horse were deposited.

The data obtained at the Świbie cemetery confirm the view that prehistoric communities of the Lusatian culture circle observed funerary rituals which apart from the deceased human also took into account the animal.