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Poland archeologist Jan Bulas found remains of a medieval fortress and the grave of two horses. Reports written in March 2021 indicate Bulas noticed satellite images of straight lines while flying over a farm near Dębiany, Poland.
Normally, archeological finds are unearthed by digging. After seeing lines on the farm that could only be seen from the sky, Bulas conferred with an associate, Marcin Przybyła, and together, they decided to investigate a little further. They found a medieval fortress with a moat attached above a huge cemetery with many tombs between 130 and 165 feet. They both agree that this site is definitely one of the largest and most interesting of its kind in Europe.
Magnetic gradiometers, equipment used to reveal where the earth has been rearranged without digging, were instrumental in Bulas and Przybyla locating the fortress. The 5,000-year-old cemetery was a bonus.
The first thing Bulas noticed on the satellite were the lines that outlined the fortress and the moat. They were probably built around the ninth and tenth centuries.
Since the fortress was built before Poland’s first kingdom was established in 1025, Bulas and Przybyla feel this find would help obtain information pertaining to ancient cultures, including Funnel Beaker, named for the pottery they created from clay, shaped like a funnel with no handles. This group was thought to be the first to begin growing such things as wheat, barley, etc., and raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Hunting had previously been their primary mode of surviving.
Though other long barrow-type cemeteries were created by Funnel Beaker people in Poland, Germany, and Scandinavia, this one seems to be one-of-a-kind, with many tombs. These tombs were once barrow mounds that were erected over graves. Over time, the dirt receded, making the tombs lower than originally built. Human remains and equipment seemed to have been taken away while the cemetery was still in use, a ritual most cemeteries used during that time. A grave with the remains of two horses was estimated to be close to 3,500 years old.
Archeologists strive to find valuable information about primitive societies where no written records exist. They analyze small and large objects found from ancient sites that could prove some connection to past existence. They look for things pertaining to how cities are built or destroyed and how either came about. The goal is to help to make things better for the future, based on the past.
There are two types of archaeology — prehistoric and historical. Prehistoric is the study of societies without a written language. Historical archaeology studies the remains of a society where a written language existed.
Bulas and Przybyla believe that the fortress was not continually occupied and served as a camp associated with religious ceremonies. They will continue to unearth as much as possible from this find, as they are excitedly interested in finding more information about Poland’s medieval lifestyle.
Written by Brenda Robinson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
LiveScience: Sprawling 5,000-year-old cemetery and fortress discovered in Poland; by Tom Metcalfe
All Things Interesting: Sharp-Eyed Archaeologist Unearths 5,000-Year-Old-Cemetery And Medieval Fortress In Poland; by Kaleena Fraga
Medievalists.net: Fortified Settlements of the 9th and 10th Centuries ad in Central Europe: Structure, Function and Symbolism
CNN: The Medieval Majesty and Surreal Salt Mines of Poland’s UNESCO Heritage Sites; Hajnalka Herold
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Peter Conway’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Daniel Mesas Atero’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License