Category Archives: POLAND

How a-boat this! Huge 700-year-old shipwreck found at bottom of river Vistula

How a-boat this! Huge 700-year-old shipwreck found at bottom of river Vistula

The underwater archaeologists in Vistula River north of Warsaw, Poland, discovered a centuries-old shipwreck described as “huge and rare.”

This historical boat was the discovery by a group of submarine explorers searching in the Vistula River north of Warsaw in Poland for a whopping 37 meters long (121 foot) and 6 meters wide (20 foot) and the article in Science in Poland reveals that the boat used to carry up to “100 tons of goods.”

Funded by the Ministry of Culture and Scientific Heritage with support from the Warsaw Institute of Archaeology, and the “massive” newly discovered boat is thought to have been a transport vessel operating between the 14th and 18th centuries.

Dr. Artur Brzóska is an underwater archaeologist and head of the research project from the Association of Archaeologists Jutra, and he believes it probably “transported grain to Gdańsk.”

Poor visibility and strong water currents were among the negative environmental challenges that stopped the divers from recovering any artifacts from the sunken ship.

But Brzóska pointed out that wrecks such as these are “very rare” and until this discovery, only two wrecks were previously known in this part of the river: a 16th century and 19th-century ship.

This new boat is a so-called “berlinka,” which was an elongated, shallow, barge-type craft designed for canal transportation, and while an article like this makes it all sound so simple, finding the rare wreck took what amounted to a major scientific operation.

Sonar image of the centuries-old boat discovered in the Vistula River in Poland.

Before the researchers discovered the “huge” boat they mounted hi-tech sonar equipment around a motorboat and selected a series of test sites with a view to diving at any interesting findings on the scans.

The system was tested on the Vistula River near Warsaw`s Old Town and the project required sailing around 400 kilometers (250 miles) along parallel survey lines scanning a 13-kilometer-long (8 miles) stretch of the river, covering nearly 500 hectares in all.

The scientists first found the decomposing remains of a World War II bridge sunk near Łomianki Dolne, and the geometry of its steel structure informed Brzóska’s team that it had been built by “German sappers.”

They also found parts of another ship driven into the bottom of the river and a fragment from the vessel pulled to the surface led Brzóska to the conclusion that it too might have been a cargo boat, similar to the huge one they discovered.

Researchers about to dive at the site of the shipwreck on the Vistula River in Poland.

While the wrecks being discovered today are from the last 600 years, beneath them, deep in the silts of the riverbed, are the rotting remains of much more ancient vessels, as the Vistula basin was occupied in the 1st millennium BC by Iron Age Lusatian and Przeworsk cultures.

1st-century Roman authors called the region “Magna Germania” and in the 2nd century AD, Ptolemy described the Vistula River as the border between Germania and Sarmatia.

According to an article on Suwalszczyzna, the Vistula River used to be connected to the Dnieper River, and thence to the  Black Sea via the Augustów Canal, one of the most ancient trade routes, the Amber Road, which connected Northern Europe with Asia, Greece,  Egypt, and elsewhere.

Encyclopedia Britannica says that for hundreds of years the river was one of the main trade routes of ancient Poland and the Vistula estuary was settled by Slavs in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Moving through the canals of time, the magnificent if not ostentatious castles and fortresses that line the riverbanks all stand testimony to the wealth accumulated through the trade of salt, timber, and stone between the 10th and 13th centuries.

Shot of the Vistula River in Poland where the shipwreck was found.

In the 16th century most of the grain exported from Poland left from the city of Gdańsk, and is located at the end of the Vistula, with its Baltic seaport trade connections, it became the wealthiest, most highly developed and connected of the Polish cities. It was this thriving Polish city that Dr. Artur Brzóska believes the newly discovered massive barge transported grain too, but the team is awaiting further results before drawing this conclusion.

Study Analyzes Warriors’ Remains in Medieval Tombs in Poland

Four Warriors Buried in 11th Century Tombs in Pomerania Came From Scandinavia say, Scientists

The skeleton of 4 Scandinavian warriors hundreds of miles from their homeland was stunned by Archeologists in Poland.

The remains of the 11th century were discovered in a peculiar burial site dubbed by the archaeologists at a death house. A chemical and genetic analysis of the remains found the four men were from Scandinavia, most likely from Denmark.

The warriors were buried alongside a plethora of trinkets and armaments. According to Dr. Sławomir Wadyl of the Gdańsk Architectural Museum.

The archaeologist told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “In the central part of the cemetery, there were four very well-equipped chamber graves.

“Men, probably warriors, were buried in them as evidenced by weapons and equestrian equipment laid together with them.”

The four warriors were unearthed in the village of Ciepłe in Eastern Pomerania or Pomorze Wschodnie, northern Poland. The Danish warriors would have been buried during the Piast dynasty – the first Polish dynasty to rule from the 10th century to the end of the 14th century.

The warriors were buried in ‘death house’ burial chambers

Dr. Wadyl said: “It turned out that all of the dead buried in the central part of the cemetery was not from the Piast State, but from Scandinavia, most likely from Denmark.”

The warriors were buried within a larger necropolis, dating back to the Polish King Bolesław Chrobry of Bolesław the Brave I. Alongside them, the archaeologists uncovered a treasure-trove of weapons such as decorative swords and spears. Evidence suggests the four men were skilled horse riders, due to the buckles, stirrups and spurs found next to their bodies.

The archaeologists also uncovered old coins, metal trinkets, combs, pots and even the remains of animals. The burial site itself is interesting because it is more typical of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The warriors were laid to rest in wooden chambers measuring about 11.5ft by 6.5ft (3.5m by 2m).

The chambers were built much like a log cabin, with intersecting planks or logs of wood stacked on top of one another. Dr. Wadyl said: “It was one of the more popular house building methods at the time, so you could say they were a ‘death house’.”

Trinkets and weapons were found alongside the warriors
The Scandinavian warriors were most likely from Denmark
The Scandinavian warriors were most likely from Denmark

In another part of the cemetery, the archaeologists found another different but equally intriguing burial method. The archaeologists unearthed two large coffins laid to rest inside of a chamber built from vertical, sharpened poles forced into the ground.

Dr. Wadyl said: “These are the biggest chests of their kind that we know of in Poland’s territories at this time.”

The collection of burial sites was likely surrounded by some form of fencing or a wooden palisade. Dr. Wadyl believes the Danish warriors were likely part of the local elite due to their elaborate and flashy burials.

He said: “Those buried in the central part of the cement ray represented the social elite of the time, as evidenced by the monumental character of their graves and rich furnishings.

“They probably belonged to a group of elite riders but their role was probably was not limited to the function of warriors.” The archaeologist also thinks the men collected taxes from the local populace due to a set of weights found next to two of the dead.

But these are not the first mysterious burial sites uncovered by archaeologists in Poland. Researchers in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian region have found pyramid-like structures predating the famous Egyptian pyramids.

Sensational findings show ‘ mysterious buried treasure in old synagogue

The sensational find reveals ‘mysterious’ buried treasure in an old synagogue

A decaying box buried in a synagogue in Małopolska has revealed a treasure. 350 valuable pieces were found in a discovery that was proclaimed sensational by archaeologists at Wieliczka’s Old Synagogue.

The archaeologists were digging a small test hole by a wall inside the synagogue when they noticed a fragment of a decayed wooden box, inside which were a collection of metal objects that had been tightly packed together, often one inside another.

Dr. Michał Wojenka from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University, who was supervising the dig, commented that if the test hole had been dug just a little further away, the treasure would have remained hidden.

The treasure in the 80 cm high, 70 cm wide and 130 cm long crate includes a silver cup, five candlesticks, the parts for four or five brass chandeliers, two probably silver-plated candlesticks and two large brown vessels with decorative handles and Hebrew inscriptions, as well as cap badges of infantry officers of the Austro-Hungarian army.

The objects probably come from the 19th century. The wooden planks that formed the box were preserved only in fragments, but the objects filling it tightly were in good condition.

The treasure in the 80 cm high, 70 cm wide and 130 cm long crate includes a silver cup, five candlesticks, the parts for four or five brass chandeliers, and two large brown vessels with decorative handles and Hebrew inscriptions.

“We tried to methodically expose subsequent layers of earth in order to reveal the top of the box. After completing documentation work, we started exploring the box and taking out more objects from it,” says Dr. Wojenka.

Two of the silver or silver-plated items are the ornamental finials of the rods on which the Torah scroll is wound.

The box also contained a silver badge from a cloth Torah covering with a representation of stone tablets. A silver chain is attached to it with a pointer used for reading the Torah.

The discovery brings with it more questions than answers. A big clue as to the time when the treasure chest was buried comes from the 18 officers’ cap badges, which feature the initials of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph, which places the treasure chest in the late 19th or earlier 20th century.

The presence of military cap badges with synagogue ornaments is strange though. 

Dr. Wojenka suggests that army caps could have been used to line the crate as all the metal badges were found at the bottom and the moist conditions would have rotted the cloth of the hats away.

The next mystery is who buried the treasure. The Austro-Hungarian cap badges are a heavy indication that the synagogue fittings were not buried during World War Two.

It is known that in 1914, the town was occupied by the Russian army after the Austro-Hungarians withdrew having lost fighting for Kraków.

Officers’ cap badges feature the initials of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph.

The work at the Old Synagogue in Wieliczka is being carried out by experts from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University. The temple dates back to the second half of the 18th century and is located in the former Jewish district of the town.

During World War II, the building was devastated by the Nazis. After 1945 is was used as a warehouse and the building served this function until the beginning of the 21st century.

The Jewish community in Wieliczka dates back to the 14th century when Jews were granted rights to use the salt mine in the town. By 1921, there were 1,700 Jews living in Wieliczka.

On September 7, 1939, the town was occupied by the Germans. During the summer of 1942 Jews from the rest of the county were concentrated in Wieliczka.

The Jewish community was annihilated on August 27, 1942, when 8,000 Jews from Wieliczka and the surrounding area were deported to the Belżec death camp, 500 were sent to the Stalowa-Wola forced-labour camp, and 200 were sent to the Płaszów concentration camp.

Huge Hoard of 1000-year-old Yotvingian Weapons Unearthed in Poland

Huge Hoard of 1000-year-old Yotvingian Weapons Unearthed in Poland

Among hundreds of artifacts from a long-disappeared person famous for its warrior culture, archeological specialists discovered rare swords, spears, and knives in the Suwałki region of eastern Poland.

Such weapons belonged to 500 artifacts that were excavated on the site of a Yotvingians cemetery dating back around 1,000 years

A Baltic people the Yotvingians had cultural ties to the Lithuanians and Prussians.

Occupying an area of land that now straddles parts of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus they spoke a language related to Old Prussian but were, over time, absorbed into the larger Slavic and Germanic groups that surrounded them.

They were famed for their warrior culture and were regarded as good fighters and hunters.

A map showing the ancient land of the Yotvingians.

The new find, described by archaeologists as the “biggest Yotvingian cemetery from the early Middle Ages,” has helped historians gain fresh information on an ancient people long lost to time.

Spearheads, helmets and other items found at the Germanic burial site in Kostrzyn, Poland, earlier this year.

“The area is very rich in Yotvingian culture and rituals,” Jerzy Siemaszko, an archaeologist from the Suwałki District Museum, told PAP. “Getting to the items has been quite easy because they are in a layer about 20-30 centimeters beneath the surface of the ground.

“The area was used by the Yotvingians in the early Middle Ages, between the 11th and 13th centuries,” he added. “It was the site of the very unusual crematory cemetery where the remains of funeral pyres were dumped along with gifts for the dead.”

Although the find has unearthed 500 items some 1,000 may have been stolen by grave robbers.

The excitement generated by the find has, however, been tempered by the fact that treasure hunters appeared to have got there first, stealing an estimated 1,000 items despite the fact that such actions are illegal and bring with them a stint in prison of up to 10 years.

The area of the find is now secured and it’s whereabouts kept secret to prevent further robbery.

Archaeologists dig up a Celtic iron mill predating Jesus Christ

Archaeologists dig up a Celtic iron mill predating Jesus Christ

The Celtic iron smelling furnace which predates Jesus, which confirmed further how much the Celts have had an influence on continental Europe and their power in the region, was excavated by the archaeologists of Poland, a pleasant and exciting finding in Warkocz near the city.

Although we find the Celts to be rooted in the history of Scottish, Irish, British and Welsh, they actually originated from central Eastern Europe, where Poland is located today..

The Hallstatt culture of Iron Age arose and soon helped them spread their metallurgy across Europe and to the British Isles, where their languages, including Gaelic, Welsh, and Irland, are still relevant today.

Celtic shield found in London in the 1800s.

These metallurgy skills would not have been possible without iron smelting furnaces, which were dug into the Earth and lined with clay.

These facilities gave the Celts a superior ability to produce the armor, helmets, and weaponry that would make them a dominant force throughout the land until the Romans defeated them and integrated them into their own society when Julius Caesar conquered Celtic Gaul in campaigns from 58 BC to 51 BC.

An intricately crafted ceremonial Celtic helmet

But for centuries prior to that, the Celts were a powerful culture, in no small part thanks to their smelting skills.

Celtic bronze mirror.

And now, archaeologists led by Dr. Przemysław Dulęba from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław have uncovered one of their furnaces, complete with remnants of iron and slag inside along with other artifacts such as ceramic pieces, garment clasps, and clothing items, as well as metal ornaments that all made it clear the furnace belonged to the Celts as far back as the 3rd century BC.

The remains of a Celtic smelting furnace found in Poland.

“The iron smelting furnaces that we discovered in Warkocz most probably come from this earliest phase of their stay in the lands of modern-day Poland,” Dulęba said in a statement. “The time of their arrival is a still poorly researched and mysterious period in the prehistory of southern and central Poland.”

Celtic smelting furnace demonstration

Indeed, southern Poland is on the outer edge of the where the Hallstatt culture originated. But it should not have taken the Celts long to arrive there as it would have been a short journey north by horse. And the Celts were expert horsemen, even going on to serve as elite cavalry in the Roman military. The Romans would also go on to adopt the Celtic sword.

Celtic cavalry warrior as depicted on a Bronze plaque made around 400 BC.

While Celtic furnaces were more multi-purpose installations that served a wide variety of societal needs, later Roman furnaces were not.

”Interestingly, bloomeries (metallurgical furnaces) from the Roman period, i.e. a few hundred years later, were single-use installations,” Dulęba said. These smelting furnaces were made to last, and the reason why this one was even found is that the team of archaeologists used a piece of special modern technology that can detect sites that were once exposed to high heat, which is necessary for metallurgy.

The furnaces were dug deep into the ground, and their interior lined with pugging (an insulating layer containing clay). Only a very small part protruded from the surface of the earth.

For now, researchers have opened only one small archaeological excavation but Dr. Dulęba says he believes there could be more furnaces in the area. The archaeologists chose the excavation site after using a magnetic method that registers traces of old buildings and structures that were once strongly exposed to high temperatures.

One of several Celtic swords that have been found, demonstrating the artistry of their metallurgy skills.
A Roman spatha influenced by Celtic design.

The Celtic culture flourished for years and their smelting skills crafted many works that are currently on display today in museums around the world. By the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem around 4 BC, the Celts had already been largely conquered by the Romans, but their culture had existed for centuries and continues to persist today in small pockets where they once lived.

Stained glass depicting Jesus.

But the analysis and dating of the site are only just beginning as scientists prepare to employ radiocarbon dating to establish a more exact age.

”If expert research in the form of analyses and radiocarbon dating of burnt wood residues from furnaces confirms our assumption, we will be able to state with certainty that this is the first well documented Celt metallurgical workshop in modern-day Poland,” Dulęba said.

And that would truly be something to add to Polish history books, which is already influenced by the Celts, who introduced many tools and weapons to the region, forms which were still being used up to the 1800s.

The Celts introduced the knowledge of the potter’s wheel and advanced iron metallurgy, with shears, axes, cutters, files, and hammers in a similar form being used in Poland until the end of the pre-industrial era at the turn of the 19th century.

Poland should be proud of their Celtic heritage, for it shaped their nation just as much throughout history as other peoples and events. Perhaps more Celtic sites will be found near the smelting furnace and will shed more light on a culture that is still somewhat mysterious to us.

Farmer’s Field in Poland Contains 2,000-Year-Old Cemetery

Farmer’s Field in Poland Contains 2,000-Year-Old Cemetery

Warrior graves dating back 2,000 years have been found by archaeologists near Bejsce in the province Świętokrzyskie. The cremated remains were accompanied by weapons: iron swords and spear or javelin heads. According to the archaeologists, the newly discovered cemetery covers around 1 ha.

The grave was found after surface surveys were carried out in some arable fields in the spring this year by archeologists.

The archeological team decided to further excavate after finding a large number of burnt bones in their early search.

The burial ground was discovered under a farmer’s field in Poland.

Although many of the remains have been badly damaged, the team discovered 20 graves over an area of 200 square meters.

Jagiellonian University research project leader Jan Bulas said: “We don’t know precisely how many graves in the cemetery were since our research is still at the early stage. We are working on the cemetery.

Warrior’s grave at the time of discovery.

“The graves are destroyed and often spread over a large area of the field.”

He added: ”Heavily corroded and seemingly shapeless objects turned out to be fragments of swords or iron fibulas.” The team discovered in a total of four swords, and nine spearheads, as well as some mysterious square structures.

The structures have a square base and a triangular cross-section and are baffling archaeologists as to their use. Mr. Bulas hazarded a guess that they might have been used to demarcate space in cemeteries for individual families.

He explained: ”Similar structures, so-called grooved objects, are known from other cemeteries from this period in southern Poland, but their function is still unclear.

“In Bejce, they contained fragments of ceramic vessels as well as metal objects.”

Archaeologists counted nearly 200 metal artifacts and their fragments after this year`s research. There are also bone, stone and clay items.

The archaeologists believe that the dead warriors were members of the Przeworsk culture. Mr. Bulas thinks that they could have been representatives of the Lugii tribal union.

The Lugii was a large tribal confederation mentioned by Roman authors living in around 100 BC–300 AD.

Among the easternmost Celtic tribes in Germania, the Lugii lived in the area which today roughly forms the meeting point between eastern Slovakia, southern Poland and western Ukraine (an area which was later known as Galicia).

The Lugii may also have resided farther north, in Pomerania, prior to moving south. They played an important role on the middle part of the Amber Road from Sambia at the Baltic Sea to the Pannonia, Noricum and Raetia provinces of the Roman Empire.

The Lugii has been identified by many modern historians as the same people as the Vandals, with whom they must certainly have been strongly linked during Roman times.

Intriguingly, a tribe of the same name, usually spelled as Lugi, inhabited the southern part of Sutherland in Scotland.

Controversy exists as to whether particular tribes were Germanic or Celtic, and the Lugii is one of those tribes which may straddle both definitions because they were a tribal confederation rather than a single tribe.

The Lugi name appears to have been based on the name of the Celtic god, Lugus. He is more commonly known as the Irish Lugh or Lug (probably cognate to the Latin ‘lux’, meaning ‘light’).

In northern Iberia, a sub-tribe of the Astures carried the name Luggones, and nearby was the similarly named Louguei sub-tribe of the Gallaeci.

7,000-Year-Old Ritual Site Unearthed in Poland

7,000-Year-Old Ritual Site Unearthed in Poland

The site of a mysterious 7,000-year-old ring structure believed to be used in semi-regular religious rituals has been excavated by researchers in Poland.

The site for the excavation is located near the small village of Nowe objezierz, about ten miles from the German border. the excavation site features a series of concentric circles dug into the countryside. For scale, the interior ring is roughly three times the size of the inner ring at Stonehenge.

In 2015, a Polish Stonehenge variant was discovered. It seems to be one of the oldest human structures in Europe, according to researchers digging up nearly 7,000 years old

The site was built around 4800 BC and is one of the oldest human structures in Europe. Scientists believe. The site was first discovered by a paraglider who noticed the strange patterns carved into the ground in 2015, according to Polish news site The First News. 

Looking like crop circles the remains of the ritual site were first spotted by a paraglider in 2015.

A year later, an archaeologist independently found the strange rings while looking at Google Maps.  A group of researchers from universities in Gdańsk, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Poznań began digging at the site in 2017. 

Excavations at the ritual site.

They have so far found hundreds of human bone fragments, pieces of ceramic, dyes, stone and flint objects, and more. Researchers believe the site was in active use for between 200 and 250 years in total, and that the rings were constructed over time and not all simultaneously. There are four rings in total, and researchers believe the trenches ranged between four to six feet deep. 

According to Gdańsk University researcher Lech Czerniak, ‘it seems important to establish that the four trenches surrounding the central square of the facility probably did not function simultaneously, but every few dozen years, a new ditch with a larger diameter was dug up.’ 

Researchers believe the Polish site, like Stonehenge (pictured above), was used for semi-regular religious rituals. Researchers have found the remains of human settlements in the landscape surrounding the rings, suggesting a group of inhabitants that lived nearby. 

They believe the Neolithic people that populated the region at the time would have celebrated religious holidays intermittently, as infrequently as every dozen or so years, suggesting the digging of new rings might have been a part of the ongoing ceremonies. 

‘The primary focus of the project are questions about the social aspects of the functioning operation of roundels, including what prompted the inhabitants of a given region to make a huge effort in building and maintaining the roundel, where the idea and knowledge necessary to build this object came from, and how often and for how long the object was used,’ Czerniak said.

So far, around 130 similar ringed enclosures have been found in Europe, most of which are in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, suggesting there might be some common culture expressed in them. 

What do we know about Neolithic Britain?

The Neolithic Revolution was the world’s first verifiable revolution in agriculture. It began in Britain between about 5000 BC and 4500 BC but spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11000 BC and 9000 BC.

Avebury Stone Circle in Great Britain is an example of a roundel ritual site.

The period saw the widespread transition of many disparate human cultures from nomadic hunting and gathering practices to ones of farming and building small settlements.

Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age

The revolution was responsible for turning small groups of travelers into settled communities who built villages and towns. Some cultures used irrigation and made forest clearings to better their farming techniques.

Others stored food for times of hunger, and farming eventually created different roles and divisions of labor in societies as well as trading economies. In the UK, the period was triggered by a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel.

The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire

Today, prehistoric monuments in the UK span from the time of the Neolithic farmers to the invasion of the Romans in AD 43. Many of them are looked after by English Heritage and range from standing stones to massive stone circles, and from burial mounds to hillforts.

Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later finished during the Bronze Age. Neolithic structures were typically used for ceremonies, religious feasts and as centers for trade and social gatherings.

Four Families Detected in Late Neolithic Burial in Poland whose Bodies Were Buried with Care

Four Families Detected in Late Neolithic Burial in Poland whose Bodies Were Buried with Care


Archaeologists found the remains of 15 people who were murdered about 5,000 years ago during the late Neolithic. Here’s what they may have looked like at the time of burial.

When 15 of them were brutally murdered — killed by vicious blows to the head— in what is now Poland about 5,000 years ago, an extended family met a grim end. But although these victims were violently killed, a new study shows that anyone who buried them did so carefully, placing mothers side by side with children and siblings.

In other words, it was far from random to place bodies in this burial. The burial shows “children next to parents, brothers next to each other[ and] the oldest person near the center,” said study co-lead researcher Niels Nørkjær Johannsen, a professor at Aarhus University’s Department of Archeology and Heritage Studies in Denmark.

Archaeologists learned about the late Neolithic burial during the construction of a sewage system in 2011, near the town of Koszyce in southern Poland.

The grave in Koszyce, southern Poland, holds the remains of 15 people and the grave goods that were buried with them.
The grave in Koszyce, southern Poland, holds the remains of 15 people and the grave goods that were buried with them.

This is far from the first large grave filled with ruthlessly murdered victims from the Neolithic; the remains of 9 brutally murdered people dating to 7,000 years ago are buried in Halberstadt, Germany, and 26 murdered individuals are buried in a 7,000-year-old “death pit” at Schöneck-Kilianstädten, Germany.

But the newly described burial is unique because the individuals were related to one another and weren’t buried haphazardly, according to a genetic analysis on the remains.”We are dealing with what you might call an extended family.

“We were able to show that there are four nuclear families present and emphasized in the burial, but these individuals are also related to one another across these nuclear families — for example, being cousins.”

The genetic analysis also revealed that the group, which was part of the Globular Amphora culture (named for their globular-shaped pots), had one male lineage and six female lineages, “indicating that the women were marrying from neighboring groups into this community where the males were closely related,” Johannsen noted.

It’s impossible to know who buried the victims, but whoever did wasn’t a stranger. “It is clear that lots of effort has gone into this [burial] and the people who buried them knew the deceased very well,” Johannsen said.


This graphic shows how the Neolithic victims were buried and how they are related to one another, according to a genetic analysis.

Even so, it’s interesting that these 15 people were buried together, rather than separately.”Perhaps the people who buried them were in a hurry?” Johannsen said. “But they nonetheless took care to bury individuals next to their closest family and also equipped the dead with funerary gifts, such as ceramic amphorae [jugs], flint tools, amber and bone ornaments.”

The burial doesn’t hold the remains of any of the family’s fathers, so maybe the victims were massacred when the fathers were away, Johannsen said. “[Perhaps] they returned later, found their families brutally killed and subsequently buried their families in a respectful way.”The massacre is tragic, but unsurprising given the time period.

During the late Neolithic, European cultures were being heavily transformed by groups migrating from the steppes, to the east. “We do not know who was responsible for this massacre, but it is easy to imagine that the demographic and cultural turmoil of this period somehow precipitated violent territorial clashes,” Johannsen said.

The finding is remarkably similar to 4,600-year-old burials from the Corded Ware culture (named for their corded pottery designs) found near Eulau, Germany. At that site, “violently killed people were also carefully buried according to their familial relationships,” said Christian Meyer, a researcher at OsteoARC, Germany, who was not involved in the study but who has worked on several other sites of Neolithic mass violence.

If anything, the Koszyce burial “is further evidence that lethal mass-violence events occurred at times throughout the Neolithic of Europe,” Meyer said. “These events could be catastrophic for the targeted communities, which were apparently built upon overlapping social and biological kinship ties.

“However, while the researchers of the new study call the Koszyce finding a “mass grave,” Meyer said he sees it differently. “The people were buried very carefully, received grave goods and were positioned according to their immediate kinship ties,” he said. “We should maybe call this a large ‘multiple burials’ rather than a ‘mass grave,'” in which bodies are typically buried in a disorganized heap.

Source: archaeology.org