The most well
known site in Polish archaeology is the fortified Bronze and
early Iron Age settlement built between 750 and 400 BC near
Biskupin, in the north-west of Poland. The ancient settlement
site was discovered by a local school teacher in 1933 and during
excavations the wooden remains of a fortified settlement were
found. Much of the archaeology was found to be in an excellent
state of preservation, due to the site's location in
water-logged wetland beside a lake. Part of the early Iron age
fortified prehistoric lake settlement has now been reconstructed
and visitors to the site can see impressive box ramparts with
rows of log houses filling the interior. Two rows of Iron Age
houses have also been reconstructed, and an interesting
permanent exhibition has been established. This exhibition is
devoted to the archaeological finds discovered in the area.
The site was
excavated from 1934 onwards by a team of archaeologists from
nearby Poznan University. The ancient settlement, described as
Lusatian, soon became famous in Poland and the site was visited
by many prominent Poles. Indeed the excavation soon became part
of the Polish national consciousness: a symbol of the
achievements of the Slavonic tribes in prehistoric times.
Biskupin was and is often referred to as the "Polish Pompeii".
When the Germans
occupied parts of Poland in late 1939, Biskupin became part of
the Warthegau, an area that was claimed to have been "Germanic"
since at least the Iron age.
Biskupin was renamed "Urstadt". In
1940, and excavations were resumed under the patronage of
Heinrich Himmler by the SS-Ahnenerbe under the supervision of
the archaeologist, Hans Schleiff. Two archaeological reports
were published by Schleiff describing how Germanic tribes took
over and improved the already existing small Lusatian (Lausitz)
settlement. Excavations by German archaeologists at the site
continued until 1942. After the war excavations were resumed by
Polish archaeologists and ended in 1974.
site is now on a lakeside peninsula, archaeology has shown that
the ancient settlement was once located on an island in the
middle of a lake. This island was encircled by a palisade of
more than 25,000 wood stakes driven into the bed of the lake at
an angle. Behind these fortifications was a rampart of earth and
logs 500 metres long and 6 metres high. Inside these ramparts
was a ring road, which encircled 11 parallel streets lined with
more than 100 wooden houses. At its peak, Biskupin is believed
to have had about 1,200 inhabitants.
Each year the
site of the Biskupin archaeological museum transforms itself
into the largest archaeological festival in Europe. The
experimental archaeology event aims to recreate life in the
village during the Bronze and Iron age: fabric is woven; bread
is baked from wheat ground on a quern; clay pots are fired;
butter is churned and made; iron is smelted using prehistoric
methods; weapons such as bows, arrows, and swords are made; and
battles are re-enacted. Living archaeology events for both
archaeology enthusiasts and professionals are staged annually in
May and June, with the main event taking place during the third
week of September. Other educational events for people with an
interest in history or archaeology are also organised during the
summer. These include a megalithic stone age weekend where
visitors can try their hand at flint knapping and primitive
hunting and fishing techniques. No visit to Poland should be
complete without visiting the remarkable Biskupin.
fortified early Iron Age sites have been excavated at nearby
Sobiejuchy and Izdebno.
Other notable open-air ethnographic museums (skansens) in
village in Kluki, near Slupsk in Pomerania (Pommern)
heritage park near Gdansk
village skansen in Ochla, near
A farming and
rural life skansen in
near Gorzow Wlkp
museum in Torun.
Interesting archaeological investigations and excavations taking
place in Poland:
megalithic tombs in Roscin (near
prehistoric stone circles in Odry, Lupawa, and Siemirowice
cemetery dating from the first century near Kowalewko
Templar Chapel from the 13th century in Rurka
Feel free to
contact us if
you have any questions about Biskupin; Polish archaeology or
archaeological excavations and sites in Poland. I am an
archaeology graduate who has lived in Poland for several years.
photography in Poland.
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