Sudovians in Sambia in the 13th14th centuries 

Kulakov V.I.  


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 2 (53)


              page 9198




The aim of the proposed work is to ascertain, based on archeological data and written sources, the presence of individuals of the easternmost tribe from the community of the Western Balts Sudins/Yotvingians. Both scientific data from old German excavations and the latest archaeological research in the Zelenogradsk district of the Kaliningrad region are introduced into the scientific discourse. There are no funeral monuments of the Teutonic Order in the territory of the Sudovian corner (Lat. Campus Sudowitarum) in the northwestern part of the Sambia peninsula. Ethnographic data on this part of the Amber Coast, provided by the local history manuscripts of the 16th17th c., include data on the West Baltic population of Western Sambia without actual confirmation of its tribal affiliation. In fact, authors of Polish written sources of the Order time do not draw distinction between the Sudins and Prussians either. Individual burials of male warriors and women with features characteristic of the Sudovian funeral rituals were found at the Prussian burial grounds of the Northern Sambia. Anthropological data confirm this conclusion. In the eastern part of the Prussian tribal area, occupied by the Prussians in the pre-Order times, according to the dating of the burial grounds, two burials with spearheads were encountered amongst the complexes of the 14th c., which can be tentatively associated with bearers of the Sudovian traditions. The low representation of the Sudovian burials at Prussian burial grounds attests to the fact that the Order authorities could have appointed individual representatives of the Sudovian aristocracy, who sided with the conquerors, in order to strengthen the Order in the local polcas (volosts). Using the linguistic and cultural closeness with the Sembians, these Sudins possessed military power (presence of spearheads in the burials, with the common absence of weapons in the Prussian community graves) and could have been collecting taxes on behalf of the Order (the presence of a Western European moneybag in burial Ve-161). The seemingly unnatural presence of the Baltic warriors in the service of the Teutonic Order is symbolized by the decoration of the buckle from burial Ve-161, which bears the coat of arms of the Order and a stylized image of the mythical companion of God Perkuno the sacred goat, an object of the Prussian sacrifices, presented here as a symbol of the native spiritual traditions.

Key words: southeastern Baltic, Sudavians, Yatvyag, order time.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 25.02.2020

Article is published: 28.05.2021


Kulakov V.I., Institute of Archeology RAS; Dm. Ulyanova st., 19, Moscow, 117036, Russian Federation, E-mail:,