Exploring the Poles


It’s a slow news week, but it’s interesting to see what constitutes a slow news week in archaeology. This week sees artifacts unearthing themselves (less than medieval, but still awesome), and the grave of a mysterious warrior. Both of these finds are in Poland, which is rich with a history stretching back thousands of years. Today you’ll get a look at some of the stories that are happening there right now. 

From the Depths

A recent drought in the Vistula River in Poland has uncovered tons of 17th c. marble artifacts which had been cast into the waters four centuries ago. Let me be perfectly clear here, I am not using “tons” metaphorically. Archaeologists have found over twelve tons of marble fountains, sculptures, and columns all very well preserved. they date back a series of conflicts known as the Swedish Deluge, when the Swedish Empire invaded the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and looted much of the country. The Swedes transported a lot of the stolen goods down the Vistula toward the Baltic Sea, and apparently a lot of those barges sank, judging from the contents of the river. Hopefully these artifacts will find their way into Polish museums, given that a lot of the ones which left the country remain in the hands of private collectors. Read the full article at National Geographic.

One of These Things…

Meanwhile, in an excavation near Bodzia, also in Poland, something strange has turned up. In one of the 57 graves uncovered in the dig lies a young man, perhaps 25. He was buried in the fetal position, north to south, and with a silver sword, unlike all of the others. The practice hearkens to Viking burial traditions, rather than those of the region. But the other grave goods suggest that the young man dates back to a 13th c. state known as Kievan Rus. He might have been a mercenary, hired by the rulers, or a native of Kievan Rus with a fascination with Norse tradition, perhaps. He’s one grave in 57, but the irregularity of the burial suggests a very interesting story of how he came to lay there. Read the full article in the Polish News.

It just goes to show how weirdness and irregularities contribute to the field. A lack of rainfall unearths literally tons of artifacts. One grave out of sixty reveals a strange story. Archaeology, like any other science, is all about details. That’s it for now, and I hope you made it out to our Meet the Profs event last night.

Jim Tigwell is a writer at large who has never been to Poland, but kinda likes the music. Writing about philosophy at Concept Crucible, you can also find him on Twitter as @ConceptCrucible






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