All posts by Archaeology World Team

Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies Viewed with High-Tech Tools

Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies Viewed with High-Tech Tools

Science News reports that Richard Johnston of Swansea University and his colleagues used a micro-CT scanner to create highly detailed 3-D models of mummies held in the university’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities for virtual examination.

Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies Viewed with High-Tech Tools
Three-dimensional scans of three animal mummies from Swansea University’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (a snake (left), bird (top right), and cat (bottom right)) have revealed the mummies’ identities and other secrets. The mummies have not been radiocarbon dated, but are likely at least 2,000 years old.

Egyptian animal mummies can look like little more than bundles of cloth. Now high-tech X-rays have unveiled the mysterious life histories of three of these mummies — a cat, a bird, and a snake.

While 2-D X-rays of each specimen existed, little information existed beyond generic animal labels.

So, Richard Johnston, an engineer at Swansea University in Wales, and his colleagues used a microCT scanner to see what lies beneath the wraps of animal mummies at the university’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.

The bone scans of three of those specimens provided such detail that researchers could identify the cat as a domestic kitten (Felis catus), the bird as a Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and the snake as an Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), the team reports August 20 in Scientific Reports.

The mummified cat’s head (seen in this 3-D model created from microCT data) was separated from the body after death. The skull may also have been dropped at some point, creating more fractures postmortem.

The cause of death was clear in two of the cases: The kitten was strangled, and the snake had its neck broken.

The snake also suffered from kidney damage, possibly a result of water deprivation near the end of its life. Like many of Egypt’s mummified animals, these three may have served as offerings to Egyptian gods.

Focusing on sections instead of just scanning the whole mummy at once allowed the team to get increased detail and create models of the mummified remains that could be 3-D printed and investigated through virtual reality.

“With VR, I can effectively make the cat skull as big as my house and wander around it,” Johnston says. That’s how the team found the kitten’s unerupted molars, a clue that the animal was under five months old.

That novel approach to microCT scanning mummies definitely has potential, says Lidija McKnight, an archaeologist at the University of Manchester in England who was not affiliated with the study.

“These advanced techniques are extremely powerful tools to improve our understanding of this ancient practice.”

Scans hint at Egyptian ritual in the snake, which had rock structures in its open mouth, possibly the mineral natron used by ancient Egyptians to slow decomposition.

Ancient embalmers often opened the mouths and eyes of mummies so the dead could see and communicate with the living, but previously this kind of procedure had primarily been seen in human mummies. Snakes, it appears, may have also whispered beyond the grave, serving as a messenger between the gods and a worshipper.

Long lost palace and death site of Moctezuma II discovered in Mexico

Long lost palace and death site of Moctezuma II discovered in Mexico

The remains of an Aztec palace where emperor Moctezuma II was held captive by the Spanish and killed in 1520 has been discovered in Mexico City. 

Archaeologists found the remains of a basalt slab floor from the Aztec palace.

Historical records say that the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes took Moctezuma II (also known as Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, sometimes also spelled Montezuma) hostage and held him in the palace in an attempt to force the emperor to control the Aztec population.

The people quickly rebelled and laid siege to the Spaniards in the palace. The Spanish tried to quell the rebellion by having Moctezuma II address the rebels from a palace balcony, but the rebels refused to stop their siege and the emperor was killed in the crossfire. 

The Spanish conquistadors eventually destroyed the rebel forces along with the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan (where modern-day Mexico City is located).

The surviving Aztec people were forced to build a new city over the ruins of Tenochtitlan.

A house for Cortes, which was also discovered by archaeologists during the excavation, was built over the remains of the palace. 

Sculptures from the Aztec palace were reused to build the house of conquistador Hernan Cortes.
This palace was built from the remains of the destroyed Aztec palace.

Reusing sculptures

They found the palace remains — which include basalt slab floors that may have been part of a plaza — beneath an 18th-century pawn shop. The archaeologists also found that sculptures from the palace were reused like blocks to build Hernan Cortes’ house. 

One sculpture depicts “a feathered serpent” that appears to show Quetzalcóatl, a god that had been widely worshipped across Mesoamerica for millennia prior to the Spanish conquest, archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.

Another sculpture that depicts “a headdress of feathers” also appears to be from the palace and was also reused to build Cortes house, the archaeologists found. 

The discovery of the palace and Cortes’ house “revives the memory of those historical events, five centuries later” the archaeologists said in the statement. 

They made the discoveries during excavation work conducted beneath the National Monte de Piedad, a pawnshop founded in 1775 that aimed to make it easier for the poor to borrow money. 

The excavation work was carried out prior to renovation work being done on the building. Today, the Nacional Monte de Piedad is a nonprofit foundation that performs a wide range of charitable work throughout Mexico. 

A trove of nazi artefacts found inside the wolf lair; Hitler’s headquarters On the Eastern Front

A trove of nazi artefacts found inside the wolf lair; Hitler’s headquarters On the Eastern Front

In 1941, when the Nazis first planned to enter the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa, they constructed a secret Military Headquarters next to the Mountains ‘ Masurian woods; they called it Wolfsschanze or “Wolf’s Lair.” The finding included the armoured doors a staircase to Hitler’s personal barracks and a barrier made to withstand a chemical attack.

The Polish government has made preparations to restructure the lair as an extensive historical museum since its discovery after the war However a trove of secret Nazi artefacts has been discovered by recent work at the military complex.

According to Heritage Daily, Polish officials found a number of significant items, among them the stairs to Adolf Hitler’s barracks, two bunker doors — one of which is believed to be part of the dictator’s personal bunker — and several armoured doors as well.

These discoveries will help researchers to map out where significant events took place in the lair, like a 1944 assassination attempt that was made on Hitler.

“We were convinced that for decades the area had been extensively dug and thought that there would be no more discoveries left to find,” said Zenon Piotrowicz, the forest inspector of the Srokowo forest division.

Excavators have also recovered water fittings for the bunker’s boiler, pipes, and sinks. These explorations have been carried out by the Laterba Foundation from Gdańsk in collaboration with State Forests and the Provincial Conservator of Monuments in Olsztyn.

An assassination attempt was made on Hitler here in 1944.

Among the most notable finds of late is an engraved stone emblazoned with Hitler’s special protection battalion and a painted flag.

According to officials, these new items will likely be kept for an exhibition at Wolf’s Lair, which is already a tourist site that draws revenue for the Masurian Lake District.

“The discovery allows us to determine what barracks they lived in and how the unit was marked,” added Piotrowicz. “It is also necessary to find a context for displaying the find so that it can be presented as a historical fact, without promoting a criminal ideology.”

Indeed, the proposed historical exhibit at Wolf’s Lair has drawn criticism from sceptics who believe that it will be challenging to display the ugly history of this site in a meaningful and appropriate manner.

Those who oppose the creation of an exhibit at Wolf’s Lair are concerned that the location could possibly become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Last year, the Wolf’s Lair was visited by 330,000 tourists.

Hitler visits Nazi officers at Wolf’s Lair just days before a coup tried to kill him there.

The Wolf’s Lair was an important site for Hitler and his Nazi henchmen during the Second World War. Not only was it the first significant military base the Nazis established on the Eastern Front, but it also provided their fascist leader with high-level security.

Hitler was so confident that his hideaway in the Masurian woods was impenetrable that he even stayed at the complex for 850 days during the war. It wasn’t until the Nazi defeat appeared imminent that he moved back to his bunker in Berlin. The complex was subsequently destroyed by fleeing Nazis.

But the Wolf’s Lair is also a notable historical site due to a failed assassination plot that took place there in July 1944.

On July 20, 1944, a group of German leaders tried to kill Hitler during a meeting at the Wolf’s Lair. The plot, known as Operation Valkyrie, was led in part by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a high-ranking militiaman descended from German nobility.

Hitler is said to have spent 850 days hidden away in the Wolf’s Lair.

The plan was to detonate a bomb hidden away in a briefcase placed near Hitler during a meeting held at the lair. Four men were killed but Hitler miraculously survived. All the men involved in the assassination plot were executed.

As for the future of Wolf’s Lair, there is hope that the new exhibition there will be done in a way that pays tribute to the victims of the Nazis and that will ultimately inform future generations about these grave mistakes of the past.

Earliest art in the British Isles discovered on Jersey

Earliest art in the British Isles discovered on Jersey

Experts have found out what they think might be the first works of art in the British Isles. A team of researchers from across the UK have uncovered prehistoric designs on 10 stone fragments, thought to be somewhere between 14,000 and 23,000 years old.

At the archaeological site of Les Varines in the southeast of Jersey, fragments thought of as part of ornamental tablets or plaquettes were discovered.

Experts believe that the Magdalenians, early hunter-gathers who lived in Europe towards the end of the last ice age, have made abstract engravings.

The findings are published in the journal Plos One.

Dr. Chantal Conneller, a senior lecturer at Newcastle University and one of the authors on the study, said: “These engraved stone fragments provide exciting and rare evidence of artistic expression at what was the farthest edge of the Magdalenian world.

“The people at Les Varines are likely to have been pioneer colonisers of the region and creating engraved objects at new settlements may have been a way of creating symbolic relationships with new places.”

Some possible interpretations of engravings on one of the plaquettes

The Magdalenian era is thought to represent the culmination of cultural development in Europe around 18,000 years ago.

From cave art and tools, weapons and decorations to engravings on animal bones and teeth, examples of Magdalenian art have been found in various parts of western Europe.

Plaquettes made by Magdalenians have also previously been uncovered at sites in France, Spain and Portugal.

While Magdalenian settlements are known to have existed as far as North West Britain, it is the first time artistic stone engravings from this era have been discovered in the British Isles.

The researchers analysed the Les Varines plaquettes, which revealed groups of fine lines that, they believe, were purposefully made using tools made of stones.

The ornamental work also features curved markings, possibly made through repeated incisions. According to the researchers, the two types of marks may have been created using the same tools, possibly by the same engraver and in short succession.

Lead author Dr Silvia Bello, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said: “Microscopic analysis indicates that many of the lines, including the curved, concentric designs, appear to have been made through layered or repeated incisions, suggesting that it is unlikely that they resulted from the stones being used for a functional purpose.

“The majority of the designs are purely abstract, but others could depict basic forms such as animals, landscapes or people.

“This strongly suggests that the plaquettes at Les Varines were engraved for purposeful artistic decoration.”

The team excavate Magdalenian hearths – or camp fires – at Les Varines in Jersey

The plaquette fragments were found in an area thought to have been used as a hearth, while three of the pieces were recovered from an area of granite slabs which may have served as paving.

Dr Ed Blinkhorn, senior geoarchaeologist at University College London and director of excavations at the site, who is also one of the study authors, said: “The plaquettes were tricky to pick apart from the natural geology at the site – every stone needed turning.

“Their discovery amongst hearths, pits, paving, specialist tools, and thousands of flints shows that creating art was an important part of the Magdalenian pioneer toolkit, as much at camp as within caves.”

1,500-Year-old lost Roman city of Altinum rises again as aerial maps reveal detailed street plan

1,500-Year-old lost Roman city of Altinum rises again as aerial maps reveal detailed street plan

This had been one of the Roman Empire’s richest cities. But when the mighty Germanic Emperor Attila the Hun started his assault in AD452, Altinum’s inhabitants began their great escape and fled.

The once-bustling metropolis, regarded by some scholars as to the forerunner of Venice, gradually sank into the ground and into obscurity. But now, thanks to sophisticated aerial imagery, the lost city has been brought to life once again more than 1,500 years on.

From the ground, the 100-hectare site just north of Italy’s Venice airport looks like nothing more than rolling fields of corn and soybeans. But researchers have managed to map out the remains of the buried city, revealing a detailed street plan of the city walls, the street network, dwellings, theatres, and other structures.

Archaeologists have produced aerial images using sophisticated technology revealing a detailed street plan of the ancient lost Roman city Altinum

They also show a complex network of rivers and canals, revealing how the people mastered the marshy environment in what is now the lagoon of Venice.

In July 2007 Paolo Mozzi, a geomorphologist at the University of Padua in Italy, and his team took aerial photos of the site in several wavelengths of visible light and in near-infrared.

The photos were taken during a severe drought in 2007, which made it possible to pick up the presence of stones, bricks and other solid structures beneath the surface. When the images were processed to tease out subtle variations in plant water stress, a buried metropolis emerged.

The researchers discovered that the crops planted on the land were in different stages of ripening, thanks to differences in the amount of water in the soil. Lighter crops traced the outlines of buildings – including a basilica, an amphitheater, a forum, and what may have been temples – buried at least 40 centimeters below the surface.

To the south of the city centre runs a wide strip of riper crops. They were growing above what clearly used to be a canal, an indication that Venice’s Roman forebears were already incorporating waterways into their urban fabric.

The authors note that Altinum, a trading centre that thrived between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, is the only large Roman city in northern Italy – and one of the few in Europe – that has not been buried by medieval and modern cities.

The map has enabled the researchers from the University of Padua in Italy to plot out the city walls, the street network, dwellings, theatres, rivers and canals

Some scholars have described the historic city as the precursor to ancient Venice.

The first century Roman historian Strabo mentions Altinum’s important location with its heavily travelled sea routes and roads running north to the edges of the Roman Empire making it a critical mercantile centre.

But as waves of barbarians invaded, Altinum was a ripe target and, finally, in the 7th century AD, a Lombard invasion pushed the city’s remaining residents onto the surrounding islands of the Venice lagoon.

Most of the ancient city’s stones were stolen in the Middle Ages to be reused elsewhere. Land-reclamation efforts in the 19th century turned the area from marsh into farm fields.

Previous archaeological excavations have focused mainly on the city’s necropolis, located outside the walls, but this is the first-ever glimpse of the city’s layout. Local officials are enthusiastic about the study, which was published in the Science journal.

‘Before what Professor Mozzi has done, it was impossible to imagine the complexity and distribution of the main buildings and structures of the municipium,’ Margherita Tirelli, inspector of the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto and director of the National Archaeological Museum of Altinum told the journal.

Mozzi and his team are planning further survey work, including scans of the area with a remote-sensing technology known as LIDAR, which will help create a higher-resolution topographic map of the site.

The team also plans to sample soil at the site to see whether environmental conditions, such as flooding or drought, might have contributed to Altinum’s abandonment.

The images will help archaeologists pinpoint the best locations for future excavation.

The archaeological team uncovers massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey

The archaeological team uncovers massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey

An archeological team from a University of Nebraska – Lincoln has discovered a huge Roman mosaic in southern Turkey — a meticulously crafted, 1,600 square feet of decorative handicrafts constructed during the imperial zenith of the region.

The Roman mosaic measures approximately 25 x 7 meters and served as the forecourt for the adjacent large bath. Hoff’s team unearthed about 40 percent of the mosaic this summer and hopes to uncover the rest of the mosaic next summer.

It is believed to be the largest mosaic of its kind in the world and reveals the magnitude and cultural impact of the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries A.D., said Michael Hoff, professor of Art History at Hixson-Lied at United Nations Local University and curator of the excavation.

“Its large size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area,” Hoff said. “We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region — it’s an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think (the region) was like in antiquity.”

Since 2005, Hoff’s team has been excavating the remains of the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast. Antiochus of Commagene, a client king of Rome, founded the city in the middle of the first century.

“This region is not well understood in terms of history and archaeology,” Hoff said. “It’s not a place in which archaeologists have spent a lot of time, so everything we find adds more evidence to our understanding of this area of the Roman Empire.

“We’re beginning to understand now that it was more Romanized, more in line with the rest of the Roman world than was suspected before. (The nature of the mosaic) hammers home how Roman this city truly is.”

Antiochia ad Cragum had many of the trappings expected of a Roman provincial city — temples, baths, markets, and colonnaded streets, said Hoff. The city thrived during the empire from an economy focused on agricultural products, especially wine and lumber.

Enormous Roman Mosaic Unearthed in Turkey

Excavation has focused on a third-century imperial temple, and also a street lined with shops. In July, the team began to explore the mosaic, which was part of a Roman bath. The decoration consists of large squares, each filled with different colored geometric designs and ornamentation.

“This would have been a very formal associated pavement attached to the bath,” Hoff said. “This is a gorgeous mosaic, and its size is unprecedented” — so large, in fact, that work crews have uncovered only an estimated 40 percent of its total area.

Hoff said it appears the mosaic served as a forecourt for the adjacent large bath, and that at least on one side, evidence shows there was a roof covering the geometric squares that would have been supported by piers. Those piers’ remains are preserved, he said.

Meanwhile, the middle of the mosaic was outfitted with a marble-lined, 25-foot-long pool, which would have been uncovered and open to the sun. The other half of the mosaic adjacent to the bath is expected to contain similar decoration, Hoff said. Crews expect to unearth the entire work next summer.

Team members first noticed the mosaic in 2001 when a large archaeological survey project that included Hoff noticed a local farmer had plowed up pieces of a mosaic in a field next to a still-standing bath structure.

The find was brought to the attention of the archeological museum in Alanya, which two years later made a minor investigation that revealed a small portion of the mosaic.

Last year, the museum invited Hoff to clear the mosaic and to preserve it for tourists and scholars. Hoff’s 60-person team also included Birol Can, assistant professor of archaeology at Atatürk University in Erzurum, Turkey, a sister university to the University of Nebraska; students from UNL; other students from Turkey and the United States; and workers from a nearby village. About 35 students participated in the project as part of a summer field school Hoff runs.

Phalin Strong, a sophomore art major from Lincoln, said the work was difficult but satisfying.

“It is strange to realize that you are the first person to see this for centuries — a feeling that also made me think about impermanence and what importance my actions have on humanity and history,” Strong said.

Ben Kreimer, a senior journalism major, agreed: “(Working on) the mosaic was great because the more soil you removed, the more mosaic there was,” he said. “Visually, it was also stunning, especially once it got cleaned off. It wasn’t very deep under the surface of the soil, either, so … we had to be careful not to swing the handpick too hard so as not to damage the priceless mosaic that lay just inches beneath us.”

Hoff said the significance of this summer’s discovery has him eager to return to the site and see what the rest of the excavation uncovers.

Roman Temple Foundation Uncovered in Malta

Roman Temple Foundation Uncovered in Malta

Sections of the Tas-Silġ temple flooring.

The Times of Malta reports that work to restore a collapsed eighteenth-century farmhouse at Tas-Silġ, an archaeological complex on Malta’s southeastern coast, has uncovered the foundations of a Roman temple.

The farmhouse’s bricks were laid directly on the well-preserved Roman foundation.  Plans to construct a small visitors’ centre at the Tas-Silġ archaeological complex have gone back to the drawing board after excavations uncovered parts of a renowned Roman temple which has been described as a highly significant find.

Heritage Malta had originally planned to restore a partially collapsed 18th-century farmhouse and last year, together with the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta, embarked on a four-week investigation of the archaeological merit of the site, which is close to Żejtun and overlooks Marsaxlokk.  

“The farmhouse was built on a corner of the temples, so the chance of finding remains at the site was always very high, but it was never investigated thoroughly,” David Cardona, senior curator of Phoenician, Roman and Medieval Sites, told Times of Malta.

“Thanks to the excavation work we carried out with the students, we realized that the remains underneath the farm were highly valuable and that’s when the project changed from fixing up the farmhouse to working to uncover what was left at the bottom.”

A single room, whose original roof and walls are still intact, has been left as a reminder of the farmhouse.

Saviour Formosa, of the Department of Digitalisation, constructed a 3D model of the remaining structure, which will eventually be incorporated into an interactive model allowing people to see what the site looked like at various points in its millennia-long history.

The model is made available through the collaboration between Heritage Malta and SintegraM program.  This program, driven by Formosa, seeks to develop spatial data and enhance geo-spatial capacities in Malta and its impact on social wellbeing. 

Maxine Anastasi, of the Department of Archaeology and Classics, said that students in their key formative training were fortunate to have the opportunity to excavate a slice of “untouched archaeology”.

“We were able to find a corner wall, complete with opus signinum flooring, that formed part of the temple,” Anastasi told Times of Malta.

Opus signinum, or cocciopesto in contemporary Italian, is a composite ancient Roman building material that combined broken pottery and crushed lime which hardened into durable flooring material. Finding foundations intact as we have here is really a very significant find

“Instead of building directly on the ground, particularly where the rock was fragile, the Romans would dig trenches and place large limestone ashlar blocks to raise a platform,” she said.

“Based on the trenches that we’ve found here, which gives us an idea of the foundation and floor levels of the temple, we can imagine a large colonnaded peristyle with a sizable façade.”

Students on-site during excavation works.

Unfortunately, Anastasi adds, the multi-period use of the site over thousands of years saw the disappearance of stones that made up the body of the temple’s architecture, likely re-used throughout and still a part of surrounding dwellings and agricultural structures in the area.

“Malta is densely populated, with lots of buildings with a lot of history. Archaeology tended not to survive, so finding foundations intact as we have here is really a very significant find.”

The investigation into the site also uncovered the history of the farmhouse, likely built in the late 1700s, bringing new insight into how locals reacted with the site throughout different periods. 

“Through old property maps we were able to trace all the original rooms and the full structure, deducing that it was built over one corner of the original temple,” Anastasi says.

“We were lucky that when the farmhouse was being built, they didn’t actually destroy anything they found there, but dismantled and cleared the surface, laying their bricks directly onto the Roman foundations.”

Given its layers of rich historical importance, was there a reason why so many cultures were drawn to Tas-Silġ?

That, Anastasi explains, could be the million-dollar question.

“Contemporarily, we can think of places like Mdina and Rabat where we are aware that our current cities are built on top of older ones with countless heritage sites and have been pretty much constantly inhabited for thousands of years,” Anastasi says.

“While there’s still uncertainty as to whether Tas-Silġ was constantly inhabited in between periods, there is no doubt that it is not only an important sanctuary site for the Punic period in Malta but one of the very few internationally known sanctuaries across the Mediterranean and throughout the Punic world.”

Unique 3,500-year-old Pig Figurines Discovered in Poland

Unique 3,500-year-old Pig Figurines Discovered in Poland

During excavations at a Bronze Age house in a settlement surrounded by Europe’s oldest monumental stone wall, two clay-pig figurines dating back 3,500 years were uncovered.

The discovery by archaeologists on Zyndram’s Hill in Maszkowice (Małopolska) has been hailed as a rare find as they are the first of their kind.

Research leader Dr. Marcin S. Przybyła from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University said: “These are the first such find of zoomorphic figurines, that is, ones depicting animals.”

He added that the artefacts are small, only a few centimetres long, but very carefully made, with anatomical features, including nipples.

One is brighter, pale brown in colour, the other was fired to be quite dark. In the case of the latter, the animal’s nose is brighter. According to the archaeologist, this is probably accidental, but thanks to this the figurine becomes even more realistic.

He said: “There is no discussion as to what kind of animal it is. You have to remember that pigs back then looked more like wild boars than modern-day domesticated pigs.”

Each of the figurines was made in a slightly different style, in a different manner, as if they were made by two different people.

Presentation of the archaeological find in the form of 3.5 thousand years old pig figurines, August 13th, Maszkowice (Małopolska). This is quite a rare find. The settlement where the discovery was made is surrounded by a stone wall, which is unique for settlements from this period in this part of Europe.

The figurines were inside the relics of a hut, just a metre apart. 

The discovery was made in a residential house from the early Bronze Age (approx. 3,500 years old). There were many animal bones (of pigs, cattle and predators) in the building, clearly more than in other structures identified so far within the fortified settlement. 

The arrangement of post-pits, whose task was to support the roof, was also surprising – three of them were right next to each other.

The house was probably rectangular or square (the size of a typical cottage in this place is 6 by 6 m or 8 by 6 m). Its walls were made of a lightweight braided structure covered with a thick layer of clay. The wall could be about 20 cm thick.

According to Przybyła, the figurines could have been used as children’s toys or cult objects.  Archaeologists are continuing restoration work within the walls of the settlement which was discovered a few years ago.

Dr Przybyła said: “The fortifications defending the settlement are more than two and a half thousand years older than the monuments of Romanesque architecture. Thus, it is the oldest example of a stone wall in the history of construction in Poland.”

This year’s research shows, among other things, that the walls were built on large, flat sandstone slabs (approx. 1.6 m long), which formed a perfectly flat surface.

According to the researcher, they look like screed and it is clear that the fortifications were made in a very thoughtful way, and the builders had experience in similar projects.

Equally, old stone structures are not known in this part of Europe. Researchers are convinced that the know-how associated with their construction came with settlers from the Mediterranean or the Adriatic zone.

Further evidence of this is the discovered fragments of ceramic vessels. Their forms indicate contacts with the communities living in the middle Danube basin.

According to researchers’ estimates, the settlement was suddenly abandoned ca. 1550-1500 BC. However, there are no traces of an invasion or disaster.

While there was a large fire more or less in the middle of its functioning, the wooden houses were later rebuilt. They were larger than the previous ones, but fewer of them were erected.