Skip to main content

Analysis of Charcoal and Wood from Czarnowko Site (Pomerania Region, Poland): 14C Dating Versus Relative Chronology Show Consistent Evidence of Wielbark Culture Presence

  • M Benysek (a1), D Michalska (a2), E Fabisiak (a3) and W Stawikowski (a2)

This article presents the results of interdisciplinary analysis of samples from the Czarnówko archaeological site in northern Poland, reporting the first radiocarbon dates for the site in comparison with its relative chronology. The site is of high importance because of its scale and opulence of artifacts. It was used for over 900 yr, from the 7th century BC up to the 3rd century AD, by populations of different cultures (the Lusatian, Pomeranian, Oksywie, and Wielbark). Samples of charcoal, wood, and textile were collected from different features, most of them from burials. Charcoal was taken from cremation pits, while wood was sampled from coffins in skeletal burials. Among samples collected during archaeological excavations in 2008 and 2010, 20 were chosen for 14C dating and macro- and microscopic observations. Images taken using a scanning electron microscope revealed the microstructure and preservation level of the specimens. An emphasis was also placed on geomorphological and geological research of the site area to gain information about the environmental conditions influencing the samples’ preservation state, e.g. pH, type, origin and permeability of sediment, and accumulation of organic matter. The obtained calibrated 14C ages are in agreement with the relative chronology based on the typology of artifacts and stratigraphic site reconstructions.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:;
Hide All
Almgren O. 1897. Studies on northern European fibula forms the first centuries AD, with consideration of the provincial Roman and southern Russia forms. Studien über nordeuropäische Fibelformen der ersten nachchristlichen Jahrhunderte mit Berücksichtung der Provinzionalrömischen und Südrussischen Formen. Stockholm. 2nd edition. Leipzig: Curt Kabitzsch. In German.
Andrzejowski J. editor. 2015. Czarnówko site no. 5. Late Prehistoric cemetries in Pomerania region, 1. Czarnówko, stan. 5. Cmentarzyska z późnej starożytności na Pomorzu, część 1. Monumenta Archaeologica Barbarica, Series Gemina, Tomus V. Muzeum w Lęborku, Fundacja Monumenta Archaeologica Barbarica, Lębork-Warszawa. In Polish.
Ascough PL, Bird MI, Francis SM, Lebl T. 2011a. Alkali extraction of archaeological and geological charcoal: evidence for diagenetic degradation and formation of humic acids. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(1):6978.
Ascough PL, Bird MI, Francis SM, Thornton B, Midwood AJ, Scott AC, Apperley D. 2011b. Variability in oxidative degradation of charcoal: influence of production conditions and environmental exposure. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75(9):23612378.
Bird MI, Levchenko V, Ascough PL, Meredith W, Wurster CM, Williams A, Tilston EL, Snape CE, Apperley DC. 2014. The efficiency of charcoal decontamination for radiocarbon dating by three pre-treatments - ABOX, ABA and HYPY. Quaternary Geochronology 22:2532.
Brock F, Thomas FG, Higham TFG, Ditchfield P, Bronk Ramsey C. 2010. Current pretreatment methods for AMS radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). Radiocarbon 52(1):102112.
Bronk Ramsey C, Lee S. 2013. Recent and planned developments of the program OxCal. Radiocarbon 55(2–3):720730.
Czernik J, Goslar T. 2001. Preparation of graphite targets in the Gliwice Radiocarbon Laboratory for AMS 14C dating. Radiocarbon 43(2A):283291.
Damblon F, Haesaerts P, van der Plicht J. 1996. New datings and considerations on the chronology of Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Great Eurasian Plain. Préhistoire Européenne, Liège 9:177231.
Eggers HJ. 1951. The Roman imports in Free Germania. Hamburg: Atlas der Urgeschichte 1. In German.
Elbanowska H, Zerbe J, Górski J, Siepak J. 1997. Physicochemical Studies of Soils in Hydrogeology. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM. In Polish.
Gołębiewski R, Woźniak PP. 2003. Kame forms near Lubowidz in the aspect of palaeogeography of the Łeba-Reda Ice-marginal Valley. In Gołębiewski R, editor. Evolution of South Baltic Lake District and Coasts. Gdańsk: University of Gdańsk. p 4758 In Polish.
Goslar T, Czernik J, Goslar E. 2004. Low-energy 14C AMS in Poznań Radiocarbon Laboratory, Poland. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223–224:511.
Kaczanowski P, Kozłowski JK. 2003. The earliest history of Polish lands (until 7th century). In. History of Poland, 1. Kraków: FOGRA Oficyna Wydawnicza. In Polish.
Kondracki J. 2011. Regional Geography of Poland. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. In Polish.
Krzysiak A. 2013. Czarnówko site no. 5, Nowa Wieś Lęborska county, Lębork district. Results of excavation in the years 2008–2010. In Fudzińska E, editor. XVIII Sesja Pomorzoznawcza, Volume 1: Od epoki kamienia do wczesnego średniowiecza, Materiały z konferencji 16–18 listopada 2011. Malbork. p 133156 In Polish.
Madyda R. 1977. Buckles and belt tips at the Polish territory in Roman period. In Rajewski Z, editor. Ancient and Early Medevial Materials Volume 4. p 351411. Warsaw. In Polish.
Mojski JE. 2005. Poland in Quaternary Times. An Outline of Morphogenesis. Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Geologiczny. In Polish.
Morawski W. 1986. Detailed Geological Map of Poland, Scale 1:50,000 Lębork Sheet. 12. p 180. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Geologiczne. In Polish.
Morawski W. 1990. Explanations to Detailed Geological Map of Poland, Scale 1:50,000 Lębork Sheet. 12. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Geologiczne. In Polish.
Museum in Lębork. 2014. Shard of gold. The largest cemetery in central Europe, Czarnówko, Nowa Wieś Lęborska county, Lębork district. URL: Accessed 2016 July 20. In Polish.
Okulicz-Kozaryn J. 1991. Das Gräberfeld von Weklice. Zur Besiedlungsgeschichte des Weichseldeltaraums in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Archeologia 40:115127.
Rebollo NR, Cohen-Ofri I, Popovitz-Biro R, Bar-Yosef O, Meignen L, Goldberg P, Weiner S, Boaretto E. 2008. Structural characterization of charcoal exposed to high and low pH: implications for 14C sample preparation and charcoal preservation. Radiocarbon 50(2):289307.
Reimer PJ, Bard E, Bayliss A, Beck JW, Blackwell PG, Bronk Ramsey C, Buck CE, Cheng H, Edwards RL, Friedrich M, Grootes PM, Guilderson TP, Haflidason H, Hajdas I, Hatté C, Heaton TJ, Hoffmann DL, Hogg AG, Hughen KA, Kaiser KF, Kromer B, Manning SW, Niu M, Reimer RW, Richards DA, Scott EM, Southon JR, Staff RA, Turney CSM, van der Plicht J. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55(4):18691887.
Sakamoto M, Kodaira A, Imamura M. 2004. An automated AAA preparation system for AMS radiocarbon dating. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223– 224:298301.
Schiegl S, Goldberg P, Bar-Yosef O, Weiner S. 1996. Ash deposits in Hayonim and Kebara caves, Israel: macroscopic, microscopic and mineralogical observations, and their archaeological implications. Journal of Archaeological Science 23:763781.
Skorupka T. 2001. Kowalewko site no 12. Biritual cemetry of Wielbark culture (from the middle of 1 st century AD to beginning of 3 rd century AD), Archaeological excavation along the pipeline route transit II:3. Kowalewko 12. Poznań: Wielkopolska. In Polish.
Stępnik T. 2015. Dendrology of wood and charcoal samples from Czarnówko cemetry, site no. 5, Lębork district. In: Andrzejowski J, editor. Czarnówko site no. 5. Late Prehistoric cemetries in Pomerania region, part 1. Czarnówko, stan. 5. Monumenta Archaeologica Barbarica, Series Gemina, Tomus V. p 145–74. In Polish.
Unger A, Schniewind AP, Unger W. 2001. Conservation of Wood Artifacts: A Handbook. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Wołągiewicz R. 1993. Wielbark Culture Pottery between Baltic Sea and Black Sea. Poznań: Muzeum Narodowe. In Polish.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Benysek supplementary material

 Word (53 KB)
53 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 21 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 281 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 16th March 2017 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.