Airborne laser scanning reveals unknown neolithic megaliths

Over a dozen previously uncharted monumental megalithic graves have been discovered in North-western Poland by archaeologists from The University of Szczecin in the region of Western Pomerania. The discovery was made through using the open resource of Digital Elevation Model available at the Polish Geoportal database. The type of the discovered features corresponds to the so called “Kuyavian tombs”, Neolithic mounds shaped in form of an elongated triangle reaching even over 150 m in length and from 6 to 15 m in width at the front of the structure and usually a single grave underneath. These tombs are attributed to the Funnelbeaker culture peoples existing in the North-Central Europe between ca 4300 BC-ca 2800 BC. Usually there were single graves underneath such structure.

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Digital Elevation Model of the part of the surveyed area, created with use of ALS with 4 visible megalithic tombs (by M. Schiller)

Most important groups of this kind of megalithic structures exist in Sarnów and Wietrzychowice, where after excavations their shape was fully restored. This type of megalithic structure was erected supposedly for important persons of a local community, like chieftains or elders. All constructions were built during the same time as other megalithic structures in Neolithic (5th-3th millennium BC), of which the most known are Stonehange,  Brú na Bóinne or Carnac.

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One of the tombs in the region of Dolice, discovered during the course of the project (by M. Szydłowski)

As part of the project, a GIS database was created utilising among other the free resource of the Airborn Laser Scanning. This data revealed known as well as potentially new, previously unknown structures in the forested areas. With field verification as the next step 18 Kuyavian type tombs have been recognised near Kołobrzeg and Płoszków – a number that is significantly higher than currently existing in the literature.

(after Nauka w Polsce, M. Schiller & M. Szydłowski)

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