Part of a series on the
|History of Poland|
The prehistory and protohistory of Poland can be traced from the first appearance of Homo species on the territory of modern-day Poland, to the establishment of the Polish state in the 10th century AD, a span of roughly 500,000 years.
The area of present-day Poland went through the stages of socio-technical development known as the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages after experiencing the climatic shifts of the glacial periods. The best known archeological discovery from the prehistoric period is the Lusatian-culture Biskupin fortified settlement. As ancient civilizations began to appear in southern and western Europe, the cultures of the area of present-day Poland were influenced by them to various degrees.
Among the peoples that inhabited various parts of Poland up to the Iron Age stage of development were Scythian, Celtic, Germanic, Sarmatian, Roman, Avar, Vlach and Baltic tribes. In the Early Middle Ages, the area came to be dominated by West Slavic tribes and finally became home to a number of Lechitic Polish tribes that formed small states in the region beginning in the 8th century.
As with other early periods areas of human history, knowledge of these times is limited, since few written ancient and medieval sources are available; research therefore relies primarily on archeology. Written language came to Poland only after 966 AD, when the ruler of the Polish lands, Duke Mieszko I, converted to Christianity and educated foreign clerics arrived.
Poland's Stone Age is divided into the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic eras.
The Paleolithic era extended from c. 500,000 BC to 8,000 BC and is subdivided into four periods: the Lower Paleolithic, c. 500,000 to 350,000 BC; the Middle Paleolithic, c. 350,000 to 40,000 BC; the Upper Paleolithic, c. 40,000 to 10,000 BC; and the Final Paleolithic, c. 10,000 to 8000 BC.
The Mesolithic era lasted from c. 8000 to 5500 BC and the Neolithic from c. 5500 to 2300 BC.
The Neolithic is subdivided into the Neolithic proper, c. 5500 – 2900 BC, and the Copper Age, c. 2900 – 2300 BC.
Poland's Stone Age lasted approximately 500,000 years and saw the appearance of three distinct Homo species: Homo erectus , Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (humans). The Stone Age cultures ranged from early human groups with primitive tools to advanced agricultural and stratified societies that used sophisticated stone tools, built fortified settlements and developed copper metallurgy.
As elsewhere in Central Europe, the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic stages of Poland's Stone Age were each characterized by refinements in stone-tool-making techniques. Paleolithic human activities (whose earliest sites are 500,000 years old) were intermittent because of recurring glaciations. A general climate warming and a resulting increase in ecologic diversity were characteristic of the Mesolithic era (9000–8000 BC).
The Neolithic era ushered in the first settled agricultural communities, whose founders had migrated from the Danube River area beginning about 5500 BC. Later, the native post-Mesolithic populations would also adopt and further develop the agricultural way of life (between 4400 and about 2000 BC).
Poland's Bronze Age comprised Period I, c. 2300–1600 BC; Period II, c. 1600–1350 BC; Period III, c. 1350–1100 BC; Period IV, c. 1100–900 BC; and Period V, c. 900–700 BC. The Early Iron Age included Hallstatt Period C, c. 700–600 BC, and Hallstatt Period D, c. 600–450 BC.
Poland's Bronze- and Iron-Age cultures are known mainly from archeological research. Poland's Early Bronze Age cultures began around 2300-2400 BC,whereas the Iron Age commenced c. 700-750 BC. By the beginning of the Common Era, the Iron Age archeological cultures described in the main article no longer existed. Given the absence of written records, the ethnicities and linguistic affiliations of the groups living in Central and Eastern Europe at that time are speculative; there is considerable disagreement about their identities. In Poland, the Lusatian culture, which spanned the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archeological discovery from that period is the Biskupin fortified settlement ( gród ) that represented early-Iron-Age Lusatian culture.
Bronze objects were brought to Poland around 2300 BC from the Carpathian Basin. The native Early Bronze Age that followed was dominated by the innovative Unetice culture in western Poland and the conservative Mierzanowice culture in eastern Poland. These were replaced in their respective territories for the duration of the subsequent Older Bronze Period by the (pre-Lusatian) Tumulus culture and the Trzciniec culture.
Characteristic of the remaining bronze periods were the Urnfield cultures, in which skeletal burials were replaced by cremation throughout much of Europe. In Poland, the Lusatian culture settlements dominated the landscape for nearly a thousand years, continuing into the Early Iron Age. A series of Scythian invasions beginning in the 6th century BC, precipitated their demise. The Hallstatt Period D was a time of expansion for the Pomeranian culture, while the Western Baltic Kurgan culture dominated Poland's Masuria-Warmia region.
The period of the La Tène culture is subdivided into La Tène A, c. 450–400 BC; La Tène B, c. 400–250 BC; La Tène C, c. 250–150 BC; and La Tène D, c. 150–0 BC. The period from 200 to 0 BC may also be considered a younger pre-Roman period. It was followed by a period of Roman influence whose early stage lasted from c. 0 to 150 AD and its later stage from c. 150 to 375 AD. The period from 375 to 500 AD constitutes the (pre-Slavic) Migration Period.
Peoples belonging to numerous archeological cultures identified with Celtic, Germanic and Baltic tribes inhabited parts of Poland during the era of classical antiquity, from about 400 BC to 450-500 AD. Other groups, difficult to identify, were most likely also present, as the ethnic composition of archeological cultures is often poorly recognized. Short of using a written language to any appreciable degree, many of them developed a relatively advanced material culture and social organization, as evidenced by the archeological record, for example by richly furnished, dynastic "princely" graves. Characteristic of this period were high rates of migration, often involving large groups of people.
Celtic peoples established settlements beginning in the early 4th century BC, mostly in southern Poland, the outer limit of their expansion, as representatives of the La Tène culture. With their developed economy and crafts, they exerted a lasting cultural influence disproportionate to their small numbers in the region.
Germanic peoples lived in what is now Poland for several centuries, during which many of their tribes also migrated southward and eastward (see Wielbark culture). With the expansion of the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes came under Roman cultural influence. Some written remarks by Roman authors that are relevant to developments on Polish lands have been preserved; they provide additional insights in conjunction with the archeological record. In the end, as the Roman Empire was nearing its collapse and the nomadic peoples invading from the east destroyed, damaged or destabilized the various Germanic cultures and societies, the Germanic peoples left Eastern and Central Europe for the safer and wealthier southern and western parts of the European continent.
The northeast corner of what is now Poland remained populated by Baltic tribes. They were at the outer limits of any substantial cultural influence from the Roman Empire.
The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age in most of today's Poland and parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, eastern Germany, and western Ukraine. It covers the Periods Montelius III to V of the Northern-European chronological scheme.
The area known as Croatia today has been inhabited throughout the prehistoric period, ever since the Stone Age, up to the Migrations Period and the arrival of the Croats.
The History of Hungary before the Hungarian Conquest spans the time period before the Magyar (Hungarian) conquest in the 9th century of territories that would become the Principality of Hungary and the country of Hungary.
The Przeworsk culture is part of an Iron Age archaeological complex that dates from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD.
Prehistoric Europe is the designation for the period of human presence in Europe before the start of recorded history, beginning in the Lower Paleolithic. As history progresses, considerable regional irregularities of cultural development emerge and increase. The region of the eastern Mediterranean is, due to its geographic proximity, greatly influenced and inspired by the classical Middle Eastern civilizations, and adopts and develops the earliest systems of communal organization and writing. The Histories of Herodotus is the oldest known European text that seeks to systematically record traditions, public affairs and notable events. In contrast, the European regions furthest away from the ancient centers of civilization tended to be the slowest, regarding acculturation. In Northern and Eastern Europe in particular, writing and systematic recording was only introduced in the context of Christianization, after 1000 A.D.
Suwałki Region is a small region around the city of Suwałki in northeastern Poland near the border with Lithuania. Suwałki has been a historical part of Poland from its inception in the 10th century until Poland's partitioning, and disappearance from the map of Europe, between then and 1918. It has been subsequently part of the Poland until today, with the exception of the brief occupation by the Germans during WWII. Lithuania disputed Suwałki being part of the new Polish Republic after its re-emergence as an independence state after World War I. This dispute along with the Vilnius question was the cause of the brief Polish-Lithuanian War and the Sejny Uprising. The Suwałki Region remains a center of the Lithuanian minority in Poland.
The archaeology of Northern Europe studies the prehistory of Scandinavia and the adjacent North European Plain, roughly corresponding to the territories of modern Sweden, Norway, Denmark, northern Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.
Prehistoric Wales in terms of human settlements covers the period from about 230,000 years ago, the date attributed to the earliest human remains found in what is now Wales, to the year AD 48 when the Roman army began a military campaign against one of the Welsh tribes. Traditionally, historians have believed that successive waves of immigrants brought different cultures into the area, largely replacing the previous inhabitants, with the last wave of immigrants being the Celts. However, studies of population genetics now suggest that this may not be true, and that immigration was on a smaller scale.
Prehistoric France is the period in the human occupation of the geographical area covered by present-day France which extended through prehistory and ended in the Iron Age with the Celtic "La Tène culture".
The prehistory of Georgia is the period between the first human habitation of the territory of modern-day nation of Georgia and the time when Assyrian and Urartian, and more firmly, the Classical accounts, brought the proto-Georgian tribes into the scope of recorded history.
The Stone Age in territory of today's Poland is divided into the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic eras. The Paleolithic extended from about 500,000 BCE to 8000 BCE. The Paleolithic is subdivided into periods, the Lower Paleolithic, 500,000 to 350,000 BCE, the Middle Paleolithic, 350,000 to 40,000 BCE, the Upper Paleolithic, 40,000 to 10,000 BCE, and the Final Paleolithic, 10,000 to 8000 BCE. The Mesolithic lasted from 8000 to 5500 BCE, and the Neolithic from 5500 to 2300 BCE. The Neolithic is subdivided into the Neolithic proper, 5500 to 2900 BCE, and the Copper Age, 2900 to 2300 BCE.
The Bronze and Iron Age cultures in Poland are known mainly from archeological research. Early Bronze Age cultures in Poland begun around 2300–2400 BCE, while the Iron Age commenced in approximately 700–750 BCE. The Iron Age archeological cultures no longer existed by the start of the Common Era. The subject of the ethnicity and linguistic affiliation of the groups living in Central Europe at that time is, given the absence of written records, speculative, and accordingly there is considerable disagreement. In Poland the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archeological finding from that period is the Biskupin fortified settlement (gord) on the lake from which it takes its name, representing the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age.
Poland in antiquity was characterized by peoples belonging to various archeological cultures living in and migrating through various parts of the territory that now constitutes Poland, in an era that dates from about 400 BCE to 450–500 CE. These people are identified as Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Thracian, Avar, and Scythian tribes. Other groups, which are difficult to identify, were most likely also present, as the ethnic compositions of archeological cultures are often poorly recognized. While lacking use of a written language to any appreciable degree, many of them developed relatively advanced material culture and social organization, as evidenced by the archeological record; for example, richly furnished, "princely" dynastic graves.
The most important phenomenon that took place within the lands of Poland in the Early Middle Ages, as well as other parts of Central Europe was the arrival and permanent settlement of the West Slavic or Lechitic peoples. The Slavic migrations to the area of contemporary Poland started in the second half of the 5th century AD, about a half century after these territories were vacated by Germanic tribes fleeing from the Huns. The first waves of the incoming Slavs settled the vicinity of the upper Vistula River and elsewhere in the lands of present southeastern Poland and southern Masovia. Coming from the east, from the upper and middle regions of the Dnieper River, the immigrants would have had come primarily from the western branch of the early Slavs known as Sclaveni, and since their arrival are classified as West Slavs and Lechites, who are the closest ancestors of Poles.
The prehistory of Southeastern Europe, defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkan Peninsula covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the appearance of the first written records in Classical Antiquity, in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.
Events from the prehistory of Britain.
Human prehistory is the period between the use of the first stone tools c. 3.3 million years ago by hominins and the invention of writing systems. The earliest writing systems appeared c. 5,300 years ago, but it took thousands of years for writing to be widely adopted, and it was not used in some human cultures until the 19th century or even until the present. The end of prehistory therefore came at very different dates in different places, and the term is less often used in discussing societies where prehistory ended relatively recently.
After the glaciers of the Ice Age in the Early Stone Age withdrew from the area, which since about 1000 AD is called Pomerania, in what are now northern Germany and Poland, they left a tundra. First humans appeared, hunting reindeer in the summer. A climate change in 8000 BC allowed hunters and foragers of the Ertebølle-Ellerbek culture to continuously inhabit the area. These people became influenced by farmers of the Linear Pottery culture who settled in southern Pomerania. The hunters of the Ertebølle-Ellerbek culture became farmers of the Funnelbeaker culture in 3000 BC. The Havelland culture dominated in the Uckermark from 2500 to 2000 BC. In 2400 BC, the Corded Ware culture reached Pomerania and introduced the domestic horse. Both Linear Pottery and Corded Ware culture have been associated with Indo-Europeans. Except for Western Pomerania, the Funnelbeaker culture was replaced by the Globular Amphora culture a thousand years later.
The best known cultural archaeological discoveries from the prehistoric period on the territory of modern-day Serbia are the Starčevo and Vinča cultures dating back to 6400–6200 BC.
Prehistoric technology is technology that predates recorded history. History is the study of the past using written records. Anything prior to the first written accounts of history is prehistoric, including earlier technologies. About 2.5 million years before writing was developed, technology began with the earliest hominids who used stone tools, which they may have used to start fires, hunt, and bury their dead.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prehistoric Poland .|