4000-year old house with stone foundation discovered in Maszkowice, Poland

4000-year-old-house-stone-poland_1Credit: M.S. Przybyła

The oldest monumental stone wall known in Polish lands protected a group of residential units (near Maszkowice, 42 miles south-east of Krakow), thus comprising an incredible Bronze Age (Period I) walled settlement in Central Europe. And while most of these units entailed unassuming huts, they were accompanied by a significantly larger house with its very own stone foundation, dating back to around 2000 BC. Interestingly enough, beyond just its size, archaeologists had also discovered items made of bronze and amber decorations – historical objects that were missing in the smaller dwellings.

Considering all these ancient evidences, the researchers have concluded that the big house obviously belonged to the elite family of the Early Bronze Age settlement. In any case, the archaeologists were pleasantly surprised by the state of this imposing dwelling that has battled the rigors of time for around 4,000-years. As Dr. Marcin S. Przybyła from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University, and PAP head of excavations for the site, said –

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 today’s Poland. Additional curiosity is the discovery of a unique home, built on a stone foundation.

As for the architectural style of the large house, the researchers noted how the design of the structure was in many ways similar to the modern dwellings constructed along mountain-sides in Poland. To that end, the stone foundation was ‘strategically’ reinforced along sections that were precarious to erosion. The foundation also served as the solid base upon which wooden walls were arranged, probably composed of whole heavy logs.

But beyond just the architectural style, the ambit that seriously astounded the archaeologists arguably pertains to discovery of metal inside the structure. And while the only finished item made of bronze from the settlement comprised a garment fastening pin, there were an assortment of collected pieces of bronze found in the house. Dr. Przybyła made it clear –

Especially valuable in this period was bronze, new copper and tin alloy. Fascination with this metal is visible among the then population. Inside the biggest house we discovered melted pieces of this material. Because of its value, the smallest fragments were carefully collected and stored.


Reconstruction of the ancient wall. Credit: M.S. Przybyła

Intriguingly enough, as we fleetingly mentioned before, the archaeologists additionally salvaged a large Baltic amber bead from the dwelling. The date of this decorative artifact corresponds to the period when amber items also began to appear in Greece. To that end, considering the strategic location of Maszkowice, by the mountain pass in the Carpathians, it can be hypothesized that there was a fairly busy trade route connecting the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Dr. Przybyła added –

All the artifacts we have discovered indicate that residents of the house and the village could actively participate in the trade zone between the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Perhaps they guarded the routes.

Lastly, the researchers are still baffled by the odd abandonment of the seemingly thriving settlement by 1550-1500 BC. And while the experts have not found any evidence suggesting violence or invasion, they did come across the indication that the area suffered a large fire, after which even larger (though fewer) houses were built. The PAP article authored by Szymon Zdziebłowski also concludes –

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

Source: PAP – Science and Scholarship in Poland

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