Polish Archaeological Museum in Biskupin on the Situlae Festival in Novo mesto. Settlements from the Bronze Age on the Amber Route.
The Archaeological Museum in Biskupin is one of the largest and most important archeological parks in Europe. In this area there are rich remains of settlements from the Stone Age to the early Middle Ages. A special feature are the remains of a fortified settlement from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages. Due to the good preservation of wooden structures, Biskupin was already in the 1930s called “Polish Pompei”.
In the area of the museum, the reconstructions of prehistoric and early medieval settlements are set, famous settlement from the Late Bronze Age and the Early Middle Ages occupies a special place. This discovery proved to be extremely important for the so called wetland archeology, which deals with the exploration of sites on wetlands and peat soils. The site is ranked among the 100 most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
Reconstructions are also on display in the area of the archeological park
• camps of Stone Age hunters and gatherers from the Middle Stone Age,
• the settlement of the first farmers from the Late Stone Age,
• fortified settlements on the peninsula from the turn of the Bronze Age into the Iron Age,
• Early Iron Age tombs
• villages from the early Middle Ages (from the period of the reign of the first Polish dynasty – Piast).
The history of the first research excavations in Biskupin dates back to the 1930s. At that time, the teacher there discovered the wheels that were praying from the water, and informed professor Józef Kostrzewski, one of the most respected Polish archaeologists, about the discovery. Research began in 1934. Experts soon discovered that it was a special settlement, as evidenced by the wooden construction of a large fortified settlement several millennia ago. Aware of the uniqueness of this discovery and its significance for the study of prehistory in Poland and Europe, professor Kostrzewski introduced an innovative approach to interdisciplinary research involving anthropologists, archaeozoologists, botanists, geomorphologists, chemists and architects. In Biskupin, they developed a pioneering technique of photographing from a tethered balloon, which proved to be an outstanding contribution to documenting the archaeological site.
Reconstruction of the settlement comprises a large part of the buildings, which in the past consisted of 106 houses in thirteen rows, among which were streets paved with wooden beams. The circular street, which made the passage easier, also ran around a tidy row of houses. The entire settlement was surrounded by a wall, which measured 3 meters in width at the ground, and its height remains unknown. The wall structure was consisted of a frame made of two types of wooden beams, tied in the style of a log cabin, and the intermediate space was filled with earth, sand and stones. To protect the defensive wall from water damage, rows of stakes were installed on the lake side to serve as a breakwater and ice breaker. The settlement was built on an island, so the only access to it was via a bridge. The entrance to the settlement was guarded by a large double door. Dendrochronological research of timber showed that it was felled around 734 BC. n. no., more than half in the winter between 738 and 737 BC. n. no. This was the time when the first cities were formed in ancient Greece and Italy, for instance Sparta and Rome.
The Archaeological Museum in Biskupin regularly hosts a number of events, where visitors can learn about how people lived in the Stone Age, what problems they faced at the turn of the Bronze Age into the Iron Age, how the work of artisans took place and in what way they made objects in the early Middle Ages. They also present topics that bring us closer to the kitchen in antiquity, the life of warriors and the secrets of the archaeologist’s work. The largest event at the Biskupin Museum, the Archaeological Festival, has been taking place since 1995. It takes place in September and lasts for several days. During this time, the museum introduces many visitors to selected topics in the field of archeology in Poland, Europe and the world. At last year’s jubilee 25th festival, guests got to know the culture of Slavs, Vikings, Celts, admired the Romans, the ancient Egyptians and learned about the North American Indians and the culture of Japan – the Land of the Rising Sun.
While visiting the Archaeological Museum in Biskupin, you can always come across various presentations showing reconstructed techniques of making various objects. You can see the work of a stonemason from the Stone Age, a maker of pottery from the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, as well as the work of various other early medieval craftsmen.
Especially for the guests of the Situlae Festival, they will show the operation of a traveling foundry workshop from the times when the settlement in Biskupin lived. At a time when metallurgists from southern Europe were famous for making situlae, bronze was the most desirable indicator of social status in the north. Decorations, weapons and tools were made of bronze. Obtaining bronze, however, was not easy, it took place through a complex exchange, which often took place over longer distances. Numerous situlae finds in Poland also testify to its size.
The metallurgist will demonstrate a number of bronze processing techniques. Just as they did 2700 years ago, today it will use molds made of stones, sand and ceramics by the process of lost wax. All the steps in the process of bronze processing will be on display – from wax models and foundry molds to casting. On the hearth, which will be heated above 1000 degrees Celsius, we will melt bronze and pour it into molds in front of visitors. Once it has cooled, we’ll see how best to process it to make it a shiny object that everyone would want.
In cooperation with Polish archaeologists, they will also offer visitors of the Situlae Festival a display of amber processing, which has connected Novo mesto and the coast of the Polish Baltic for thousands of years. It is there that the largest and most important deposits of amber are found, which people began to collect and load to the south thousands of years ago. The Amber Route is the name of the corridor along which the transfer and transport of this magical, orange-yellow substance to customers along the Adriatic Sea and, more broadly, along the Mediterranean Sea took place. The prehistoric part of the route also passed through Dolenjska and Novo mesto, which at that time was one of the European centers. That is why several amber products have been preserved in this area.
Marta Krzyżanowska and Mateusz Frankiewicz, who melt glass and make glass strawberries just like in the Bronze and Iron Ages, will also enrich the event by making copies of prehistoric jewelery.