Location: Beshenkovichi, Vitsebsk voblast, Belarus
2014 field season at Asaviec will take place from July 21st to August 10th. The upcoming expedition is expected to yield hundreds of exciting finds, including bone and amber jewelry, prehistoric work tools, and elaborate pottery used by the inhabitants of this region 5,000 years ago.
The lake region in northern Belarus has evolved as a frontier environment since the earliest occupation. Far distances from any established Neolithic strongholds and the lacustral setting of the area led to the development of distinct forms of Neolithic-Bronze Age societies. The material culture of the Asaviec family of settlements reflects the changes in the social organization, culture, technology, lifestyle, and spiritual lives of the local people over time. Due to the continuous occupation of the area, the finds reflect the gradual and complex process of transition from the Neolithic society of hunters and gatherers to mixed subsistence to increased reliance on agriculture and cattle herding in the Bronze Age.
During the early Bronze Age, the Asaviec settlements were abandoned as a result of climatic changes that forced the settlers to move uphill. Eventually the site was covered by a thick layer of turf, which created an anaerobic environment and resulted in excellent preservation of wood, bone and horn artifacts.
Over 600 bone and horn objects found in Asaviec to date make up over half of prehistoric bone tools unearthed in Belarus. Among them there are well preserved arrows and spearheads, knives, needles, axes, adzes, chisels, shovels, paddles, harpoons, and miniature fish hooks. Stone and flint tools are also abundant. Arrowheads, flint blades, and polished perforated axes were found. Asaviec settlements preserved a wide range of objects of prehistoric art. Among the unique artifacts, there are carved representations of water birds and people, wood and bone figurines of people, animals, snakes, and birds, as well as amber and bone jewellery and pendants. Crushed human bone remains found in the occupation layers and domestic context of the settlements strongly suggest practice of cannibalism, possibly ritual in nature.
Upcoming field season will explore Asaviec during the crucial period of transition from Neolithic to Bronze society, and is expected to yield a wealth of amber and bone jewelry, and weapons, especially harpoons and arrowheads.
Period(s) of Occupation: Neolithic, Bronze Age
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks
Room and Board Arrangements
Academic CreditNumber of credits offered: none