Truso

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Truso, situated on Lake Druzno, was an Old Prussian (Pomesanian) town near the Baltic Sea just east of the Vistula River. It was one of the trading posts on the Amber Road, and is thought to be the antecedent of the city of Elbląg (Elbing). In the words of Marija Gimbutas, "the name of the town is the earliest known historically in the Baltic Sea area".[1] The main goods of Truso were amber, furs, and slaves.

History

Truso was situated in a central location upon the Eastern European trade routes, which led from Birka in the north to the island of Gotland and to Visby in the Baltic Sea and later included the Hanseatic city of Elbląg. From there, traders continued further south to Carnuntum in the Alps. This was called the Amber Road. The ancient amber roads led further south-west and south-east to the Black Sea and eventually to Asia. ""For East Prussia, Truso played the same role as Haithabu (Schleswig) or Hedeby for north-western Germany or Slavic Vineta for Pomerania", Gimbutas has observed.[2]

East-west trade route went from Truso and Wiskiauten (a rival centre in Prussia which sprang up at the south-western corner of the Courish Lagoon), along the Baltic Sea to Jutland, and from there up the Schlei inlet to Haithabu/Hedeby, a large trading center in Jutland. Hedeby, which lay near the modern city of Schleswig in Schleswig-Holstein, was pretty centrally located and could be reached from all four directions over land as well as from the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Baltic Sea.

Around the year 890, Wulfstan of Hedeby (by his own account) undertook a seven-days boat journey from Hedeby to Truso at the behest of king Alfred the Great. One possible reason for this expedition was because Alfred needed aid in his defense against the Danes or Vikings, who had taken over most of England. The reasons for this journey are fundamentally unclear, since Truso was at the time little more than a trading center, and Alfred the Great, the West Saxon ruler, already kept in close contact with the continental Saxons and the Franks.

Archaeology

German archaeological finds in 1897 and excavations started in the 1920s had located Truso around Janów Pomorski, Poland, in the south-eastern suburb of Elbląg. These artifacts, dating from the 7th to 12th century, were put into the Elbing Museum and are now on exhibition at the Elbląg Museum. In the 1980s, the Polish archaeologist Marek F. Jagodziński resumed excavations and cleared a c. 20 hectare site, which was burnt down around the year 1000, whereupon the inhabitants found it prudent to disperse.

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