(Lusatian or Łuzyca culture), an archaeological culture of the Bronze Age and early Iron Age (13th to fourth centuries B.Cl) widespread over a vast area from the Baltic Sea to the Danube and Slovak Ore Mountains and from the Spree River to Volyn’. It was named after the historical regions of Oberlausitz (Upper Lusatia) and Niederlausitz (Lower Lusatia) in the southeastern part of the German Democratic Republic, where burial grounds and settlements of the culture were first found.
The principal occupations of the tribes of the Lausitz culture were cultivation (using wooden plows and hook plows) and stock raising. Sickles, daggers, swords, ornaments, and vessels were made from imported bronze. Iron metallurgy became widespread in the seventh and sixth centuries B.Cl, and in the second half of the first millennium B.Cl, iron completely dominated in production. The tribes were unfamiliar with the potter’s wheel but nevertheless made high-quality diverse clay pottery—amphora-like vessels and jugs and various cups, bowls, and egg-shaped vessels. Representative of the pottery are the biconical vessels, often used as cremation urns.
Along with the open unfortified settlements, fortified settlements situated in poorly accessible places and surrounded by ditches and earthen banks appeared at the end of the Bronze Age. Rectangular wooden pole or frame houses have been discovered in the settlements. At the Biskupin site, the long houses were divided into sections with an individual hearth in each.
The tribes of the Lausitz culture cremated their dead and buried the ashes in urns or, less frequently, simply in pits in a “burial field,” which often contained thousands of burials. Apparently, a patriarchal-clan society still existed among the tribes, although rich burials belonging to members of the nobility appeared later.
The Lausitz culture was quite uniform wherever it existed; however, local variants have also been distinguished, and these differ in the burial rite and the shape of the household vessels. The question of the ethnic affiliation of the tribes of the Lausitz culture is disputed. Many scholars consider them to be ancestors of the Slavs. However, not one theory linking the tribes of the culture with later peoples known from written sources has sufficient basis.
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A. L. MONGAIT