Thursday, April 6, 2017

Woman with a Wolf-tooth Necklace (Włodarcczak et al, 2016)

This is a revisit of a Corded Ware Culture grave discovered in 1994,Wilczyce, Southwestern Poland.  The second half of the paper is in English.

Fig 11.  Some of the wolf-teeth pendants

The grave contained a large, tubby amphora, S-shaped beakers which include a complete and loosely patterned herringbone beaker, smaller but undecorated beaker fragments and two miniature vessels along with animal teeth pendants and shell beads.  The skull is apparently missing and the body was 'strongly disturbed'.

From Fig 9.  S-profile beaker, loose herringbone
Determining the gender of the occupant is impossible based on traditional methods.  An admittedly very shaky determination is female, and the authors note that wolf-tooth and bead necklaces are generally found with female-gendered burials. 

The flint fragments (17) may come from the filling of the grave, however this is also not determined.  There was a Carpathian grindstone made of sandstone.

41 wolf-tooth pendants were included of at least six adult wolves, drilled using different tools, perhaps at different times or by different people.  Along with the shell beads, the teeth and beads may have formed a single necklace and/or bracelets.

Fig 12.  Examples of shell beads
The grave dates to around 2500 or so and the authors remark it is rather conservative given its date, especially in this part of Poland.

Przegląd Archeologiczny, Vol. 64, 2016, pp. 29-57, PL ISSN 0079-7138, DOI 10.23858/PA64.2016.002.  Piotr Włodarczak , Tomas z Boro ń, Aldona Kurzawska ,
Marta Osypińska , Anita Szczepanek , Małgorzata Winiarska-Kabacińska  [Link]

The grave of the Corded Ware culture from the site 10 in Wilczyce, Sandomierz County

The authors of the paper present the results of research, the subject of which was the inhumation burial of the Corded Ware culture from Wilczyce. The site is located on the culmination of the southern slope of a loess hill, rising directly above the valley of the Opatówka River. The grave goods consisted of: an amphora, three cups, two miniature vessels, 41 wolf tooth pendants and disc-shaped shell beads. Radiocarbon dating result on bones from the burial is 3960 ± 30 BP (Poz-80189).
KEY WORDS: southern Poland, Wilczyce, the Neolithic, The Corded Ware culture, inhumation burial


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    1. I'll give a long and nutty answer as I'm inclined to do.

      As you said, the objects are rather specific in materials and it appears to be a Indo-European metaphor that can be understood within later Germanic religion. The consort of the sun god Odin is the fertility goddess Frigg. Odin is associated with various solar details, but especially wolves.
      Frigg is associated with springs, bogs and the salty sea (Fensalir).

      These particular shell specimens are from fresh water bi-valves (Mussels) (or Unionidae) That's significant in understanding the metaphor.

      Modern bi-vavles are called "naiads" after the nymphs of the springs, creeks and wetlands. Within the context of Greek religion, these nymphs of the springs are servants to Artemis (similar to Frigg), wetnurses of babies and overseers of girls. Conversely, boys are overseen by the sun god "Apollo", as in the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus.
      When a child reached a certain age, they would return to a spring for some sort of ceremony and sacrifice for thanks and passing into independence.

      So I interpret this sort of necklace as have a sort of male-female dualism, perhaps something a mother would wear. It has a dogs and donuts quality as well, but it could be my mind playing tricks.

    2. Wow! Thank you! There is much folklore behind CWC adornments. I thought it was maybe just the teeth of the predatory animals trying to attack CWC herds & the freshwater shell bling of the descendants of the Neolithic Farmers! A merging of Cultures as in Funnel Beakers & incoming I.E. folks. Thanks for the article on the CWC find from Southwest Poland!

    3. Well, that's one interpretation. Also, it's long before Greek or German identities or mythology.

  2. Thanks for the update! Always interested in CWC jewelry! (especially the large amounts of animal teeth & mussel shell beads)Rich burial, wish we knew more about the person buried there......