Numerous archaeological sites identified along the Vistula

Researchers have surveyed the shores along the Vistula river south of Warsaw, Poland’s capital, in order to detect unknown archaeological sites. Among the new, previously unknown discoveries are 19th-century fortifications, salt chamber, and military earthworks.

Wooden structures found at the shore (by Agata Wiśniewska)

During the survey in the Autumn last year, the researchers were able to detect 33 previously unknown sites in the region of Urzecze, in the northern region of Vistula’s Middle Course Valley. The area is often flooded and unreachable, filled with intersecting oxbows and sandy islands, and therefore it was believed by archaeologist to have been uninhibited in the past – according to Łukasz Maurycy Stanaszek, director of the project. The archaeologist analysed old maps and LiDAR data which allowed to understand the area and its various terrain forms.

(by Archiwum Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie)

On the course of the project, the researchers managed to identify such sites as earthworks from the times of the Napoleonic Wars linked to the Battle of Ostrówek in 1809. They were probably built by Austrian soldiers. Their precise location was unknown so far, despite the existence of historic sources describing the battle itself. The fortifications served an important role, as one of the consequences of the battle was the incorporation of Austrian-occupied land to the Duchy of Warsaw. Moreover, a Medieval village and a fortified mound were located near Czersk, attributed to the presently non-existent Żelawin, where the keeper of the Czersk castle lived in 1409. At that site, the researchers located numerous pottery shards, a lead seal and coins from all around Europe. The findings suggest that a salt chamber might have existed there before the 1670s. Such structure is known from royal sources. Among other discovered sites is also a settlement from the Roman Period, located in the village of Glinki.

Archaeologists surveying the shore (by Agata Wiśniewska)

According to the researchers, before the regulation of the river and construction of the modern embankment running along the course of Vistula, the islands and sandy peninsulas were often parts of the mainland where people thrived since Prehistoric times. Human activity throughout the ages have been confirmed, despite often floods. What made it profitable were good soils and trade along the Vistula, especially the salt trade, as the substance arrived from the royal mines in Bohnia and Wieliczka (Southern Poland) and was redistributed locally among the local nobles.

(after Agata Wiśniewska & Nauka w Polsce)

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