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Hillfort in Chotyniec. Western Gate of Scythia - temporary exhibition (19.03 - 01.09.2024)

Hillfort in Chotyniec. Western Gate of Scythia - temporary exhibition (19.03 - 01.09.2024)

 

On display: 19 March - 1 September 2024

Authors of the exhibition: Prof. dr hab. Sylwester Czopek, Dr hab. Katarzyna Trybała-Zawiślak, Prof. UR

Exhibition curator at the Archaeological Museum in Poznań: Magdalena Felis
 

In the village of Chotyniec (Subcarpathian Voivodeship), not far from the buildings, an outline of a sizable hillfort can be seen. Perched on an elevated promontory surrounded by wetlands, the site had been known to local people for a long time and was even marked on 19th-century Austrian maps. Although it was mentioned in literature and conservation documents, determining its exact age remained a challenge. Thus, archaeologists from the University of Rzeszów decided to solve the puzzle. They conducted surface and exploratory research from 2013 to 2016, followed by excavation work from 2017 to 2023.

Archaeological investigations revealed yurt-type dwellings, post structures and household pits. The place of particular importance is the so-called zolnik (named after the Russian and Ukrainian word zoła meaning ash). The abundance of animal bones (mainly of cattle, horse, and pig, but also wild boar and hare) left over after consumption, along with char and fragments of wine amphorae discovered within the structure, suggests that feasts may have taken place here.

Over 200 fragments of ancient amphorae found at the settlement represent the largest collection of vessels of this type recovered from a single archaeological site in Poland. Wheel-thrown, brick-orange (often painted) and grey amphorae were made by Greek craftsmen in Klazomenai and probably on the islands of Lesbos and Chios. The research at the site also revealed more than 20,000 fragments of locally handcrafted vessels of various shapes and functions and other clay items, such as spindle whorls (among them katushki - clay spools) and a fragment of a zoomorphic figurine.

Bronze, iron and bone arrowheads undoubtedly stand out among artefacts unearthed during the excavations at Chotyniec. Noteworthy are also various ornaments, among them iron and bronze pins with diverse head shapes, necklaces, a ring, a temple pendant, a wire, a spirally twisted sheet, and bronze, glass and clay beads.

Some of the most remarkable discoveries include a gold sheet, a nugget of melted gold and a necklace composed of tiny fayence beads and bronze semicircles. Another interesting find is a whetstone with a perforation. Bone items, such as pins and a plate, and iron objects, including several fragments of knives, have also been recorded at the site.

Based on the artefacts discovered, the Chotyniec hillfort is dated to the 7th-5th centuries BC and linked to the Scythian cultural circle. 

The nomadic Scythians originally inhabited the steppes of Asia, encompassing vast areas, among them present-day Tuva. They later conquered the steppes north of the Black Sea and, from there, ventured further west. Burial mounds (kurgans) erected by these peoples often contained objects showing influences of Greek art.

The exhibition on display at the Archaeological Museum in Poznań features over a hundred remarkable artefacts unearthed at Chotyniec, including an almost complete, reconstructed Greek wine amphora from the workshop in Klazomenai.