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Unique 4,000 year old house discovered in Poland

Polish archaeologists working near the village of Maszkowice in southern Poland have discovered a unique house and several other smaller dwellings within a settlement protected by what is the oldest monumental stone wall known in Polish lands. Researchers had stumbled upon the well-preserved remains in 2011, but only last year were they able to accurately determine its age to be nearly 4,000 years old.

Unique 4,000 year old house discovered in Poland
Excavations in Maszkowice [Credit: M. S. Przybyła]
"The fact that we were able to discover the remains of houses from this period is a real treat. There are precious few such remains in Poland today. Most surprising was the discovery of a unique house, built on a stone foundation," said the head of the excavations Dr. Marcin S. Przybyła from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. The house, clearly standing out among the other structures, was built in a row along with five other buildings made of wood.

Dr. Przybyła compared the structure with stone foundation to modern houses built in the mountains. The purpose of the foundations was to stabilise the ground in areas subject to subsidence and erosion. On this foundation, builders erected wooden walls, probably made out of whole logs.

The house was unique for other reasons, too. Firstly, it was larger than the other houses within the fortification. In its interior archaeologists discovered several items which were characteristically absent from the neighbouring houses.

"Bronze was especially valuable during this period. The inhabitants' fascination with this metal is quite apparent. Inside the largest house we discovered melted pieces of this metal. Because of its value, even the smallest fragments had been carefully collected and stored," said Dr. Przybyła.

Inside the house, researchers found only one finished item made of bronze - a pin for fastening garments.

Unique 4,000 year old house discovered in Poland
Design of the wall from the Bronze Age in Maszkowice [Credit: M.S. Przybyła]
Within this house, which clearly belonged to an elite member of the settlement, archaeologists also unearthed a large Baltic amber bead - similar to those that began to appear in Greece at this time.

"All the artefacts we have discovered indicate that the residents of the house and village actively participated in trade between the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Perhaps they guarded the trade routes," said the archaeologist. The fortified settlement in Maszkowice is situated on a mountain pass in the Carpathians, on the north to south route.

According to the estimates of the researchers, the settlement was suddenly abandoned around 1550-1500 BC, less than 200 years after its foundation. Scientists do not have any data that would imply that a disaster or invasion contributed to that event. However, about half-way through its occupation there was a huge fire. The wooden houses were rebuilt however, larger than before, but there were less of them.

Scientists are confident that at least some villagers came from the distant lands of the Mediterranean or the Adriatic - only they had the architectural know-how to erect stone walls in such a technologically advanced form. This is also evidenced by the discovered fragments of pottery, whose forms suggest contact with the communities living in the mid Danube basin.

Author: Szymon Zdziebłowski | Source: PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland [December 10, 2016]

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