Friday, November 29, 2013

2000 year old iron furnaces found in Poland

More from the Mazovian centre of Iron production.
Excavations at Kanie (Mazovia Voivodeship) in Poland have uncovered the second largest centre of iron production in this area, dating back 2000 years. Finds that were of greatest interest to the archaeologists were a timber well of unusual design, a number of bloomery furnaces for smelting iron and according to the researchers, the site fits well into the pattern of other known ironworks settlements located in the Błonie Plains. The site also increases further understanding of mass production of iron in the territories inhabited by the Przeworsk culture which is part of a Polish Iron Age archaeological complex that dates from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE. Robert Wereda of the Museum of Ancient Mazovia Metallurgy in Pruszków explained “We found 22 furnaces filled to varying degrees with slag and residue and intense black burn, and two half-dugouts, which contained numerous pottery sherds” 
The article devotes some attention to the unusual construction of a well from the site.
The site also contained 22 structures used in the smelting of iron. The furnace type was called a bloomery and consisted of two parts: upper – a pit or chimney, approximately 2 m high with an opening at the base where slag was collected. Experiments have shown that each bloomery would take 200 kilogrammes of iron ore, which could be brought up to a temperature of 1200° C using charcoal. Settlements such as this one were producing industrial quantities of iron for a variety of purposes and as such this specialised village would contain all the stages of metallurgic processes with clay and iron ore sources close by. Blacksmith workshops, bloomery furnaces and wells are normally all found together at these workshop settlements. Currently in the Mazovia region archaeologists have located 238 within a relatively small area of only 300 square kilometres. Excavations prior to new water supply system The archaeological work preceded the construction of the water supply system. Excavations were headed by Dorota Słowińska from the Stefan Woyda Museum of Ancient Mazovia Metallurgy in Pruszków. 
Source: PAP – Science and Scholarship in Poland

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cemetery dating back more than 2500 years studied near Wągrowiec


A large Lusatian culture community cemetery from the late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, the period in which the famous fortified settlement in Biskupin was founded, was excavated by archaeologists in Łęgowo near Wągrowiec (Wielkopolska province).

"We studied 151 graves, which contained cremated ashes of the dead. Descendants spared no gifts in the form of pottery for the last journey - we counted more than a thousand vessels" - told PAP Marcin Krzepkowski, head of research.

Cremated remains were usually placed in urns. A common practice observed in the studied cemetery was covering urns with bowls, putting some vessels upside down , or putting them on the side and placing the scoops and cups in large ceramic containers. Read more - Cemetery dating back more than 2500 years studied near Wągrowiec

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Worst Nicknames for Medieval Rulers

'Alfonso the Slobberer and Ivar the Boneless: Worst Nicknames for Medieval Rulers' October 22, 2013 Sort of makes the Polish Bolesław the Crooked Mouth and Mieszko IV Tanglefoot (Plątonogii) seem a bit tame.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Archaeologists Discover Unique Female Figurine

A clay figurine from the Neolithic period (fourth millennium BC) depicting a stylized woman figure has been found during the excavations in Racibórz. "This find is a sensation in the archaeological world, because so far only a few and small fragments of human figurines from this period have been discovered" - told PAP Jacek Pierzak from the Silesian Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments.
The object was discovered during the survey of the planned flood reservoir Dolna Odra, conducted by the Archaeological Rescue Research Team at the Centre for Prehistoric and Medieval Studies of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS in Poznań.
More here

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gliwice burials: Vampires or Executed Criminals?

A bit of a media event has been the discovery of some odd burials near Gliwice, at least 17 skeletons buried with the skulls severed and placed between the knees or hands. Unfortunately the local archaeologists seem to have jumped on the 'vampire' bandwaggon:
Construction workers building a road near the town of Gliwice in southern Poland this month came across four skeletons buried in a bizarre way. Their skulls had been cut off and placed between the knees or hands of the dead. Later, a further 13 skeletons arranged in a similar way were found. Adding to the mystery, nothing -- no jewellery, remains of clothing or coins, not even a button -- was found on the bodies. Archaeologists now believe that the bodies date from the 15th or 16th centuries, when the fear of vampires was widespread in Eastern Europe. Lukasz Obtulowicz, an archaeologist from the monument protection office in the nearby city of Katowice, said there were clear indications that this was the site of a vampire burial, noting that stones had been placed on the skulls. "All this served to prevent the vampires from returning to life," he said in a television interview.  The office's chief archeologist, Jacek Pierzak, told Polish newspaper Dziennik Zachodni: "It was one of the most common forms of burying vampires." The office could not immediately be reached for comment. It can't be ruled out that the dead were executed, because the site lies close to where a gallows used to stand. So far, a total of 43 graves have been unearthed there, and historians hope to learn more about the skeletons by studying court files and church logs on executions. The skeletons are being removed for tests to ascertain their age and the possible causes of death.

One of the burials

Spiegel, 'Roll Over Dracula: 'Vampire Cemetery' Found in Poland', ABC News/SPIEGEL July 27, 2013

Sarah Weiss, '4 suspected vampires found buried in Poland' Jewsish News 12.07.2013

Afterlife of Early Neolithic houses in the Polish lowlands


Reconstruction of Neolithic house in use

Joanna Pyzel, 'Afterlife of Early Neolithic houses in the Polish lowlands',  Past Horizons. March 23, 2013.Some interesting conclusions about some LBK houses found in motorway excavations in Kuyavia:

 Some people may have chosen to build within the older LBK houses to [...]  legitimise their ancient origin (and privileges that must be associated with this). There can be no doubt that the past, even a remote one, played an important role in the Brześć Kujawski societies. Leaving aside the question of this relationship to LBK ancestors representing a genuine continuity or an invented tradition, these commemoration practices demonstrate to us how long these abandoned buildings of first farmers could have been visible in the otherwise unchanged landscape of prehistoric Europe and what this must have meant to those that came after.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Unique workshop of Palaeolithic hunters discovered in Silesia

The  digital model of a biface discovered in the area of the site.
Below, a schematic tool cross section showing the method of
making of  plano-convex form. Scanning by M. Mackiewicz
More than a thousand flint tools and waste generated on during their treatment were discovered near Pietrowice Wielkie (Silesia) by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław - told PAP head researcher Dr. Andrzej Wiśniewski. The flint workshops, remains of which were found by archaeologists, had been used by Neanderthals. The researchers are waiting for more detailed information on the site dating. The workshop is certainly more than 45 thousand years old.  "Tools were made by a specific canon of Neanderthals living in Central Europe. These items have a cutting edge on both sides, they are bifacial" - said Dr. Wiśniewski.

Unique workshop of Palaeolithic hunters discovered in Silesia