The Dawn of the Polish State

The circumstances surrounding the birth of the Polish state have been a source of fascination for a long time. Currently there are a number of research projects, conferences and individual studies that are looking at this issue in an interdisciplinary way. However, there are still many questions.

The book The Dawn of the Polish State, both to professionals and to the wider audience, shows a colourful picture of the past from a thousand years ago, but also illustrates the contribution of archaeology to the exploration of the roots of the state, Poland and Poles.

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Pomerium – new discovery

On 17 July 2021, an important and rare discovery was made during archaeological works carried out near the recently restored Mausoleum of Augustus in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, just off the Via del Corso in Rome. A sizable travertine block (pomerium cippus) was unearthed, which defined the sacred boundary (pomerium) of Rome extended by Emperor Claudius in 49 AD. Although the discovered block is only partially preserved, with he censorial power of the the ruler (line 6) and a final formula: 

[au]ctis populi R[omani] / finibus, pomerium / ampliavit terminavitque 

(lines 7 – 9) 

linking this inscription to the activities of Claudius and similar cippi is most reasonable.

Why is the recent discovery in Rome so unique and of such a great significance?

Moment odkrycia pomerium © Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Discovery of the pomerium
© Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

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Legitimization of the Elites in Poland and Norway – series of minilectures

A series of six mini-lectures was published by ELITES – Symbolic Resources and Political Structures on the Periphery: Legitimization of the ELITES in Poland and Norway, c. 1000 – 1300.The project focuses on the forms and means of symbolic power the members of the political elites in the two peripheral areas of Europe (Norway and Poland) employed to manifest their privilege right to rule to their peers and subjects.

The mini-lectures (in Polish and English, with subtitles) by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Warsaw and the University of Oslo, in partnership with the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno, deal with the legitimacy of elites in Poland and Norway and discuss topics such as:

 

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Climate Change and State Evolution

Despite substantial evidence on the short-term effects of adverse climate shocks, our understanding of their long-term impact is limited.  To address such a key issue, research has focused on ancient societies because of their limited economic complexity and their unparalleled experience of environmental and institutional change.  Notably, ‘Collapse Archaeology’ literature has reported statistical evidence consistent with the mantra that severe droughts trigger institutional crises.  This view, however, has recently been challenged by literature summarized in the paper Climate Change and State Evolution by Giacomo Benati and Carmine Guerriero.

Ziggurat w Nippur (współczesny Nuffar, Irak), niegdyś centrum religijne południowej Mezopotamii. Nawet jeśli uznajemy wywołany przez przemiany środowiska upadek starożytnych społeczeństw, to aby właściwie ocenić pełny wpływ zmian klimatycznych i związanych z nimi zmian politycznych, musimy odpowiednio połączyć wyniki analiz nauk przyrodniczych i społecznych © G. Benati
Ziggurat of Nippur (modern Nuffar, Iraq), once at the center of a key religious Mesopotamian polity and cultic center. Even if the environmental induced collapse of ancient societies has attracted much attention, to correctly evaluate the full impact of climate change and inform policy intervention we need to properly combine natural and social sciences. 
©  G. Benati

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Migration in Europe at the turn of Antiquity and the Middle Ages

An international team led by Prof. Aleksander Bursche has recently finished compiling the course and processes of migration in Central Europe at the end of Antiquity in a monographic form. The two-volume publication is the result of a six-year Maestro NCN project, during which archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and palaeobotanists studied cultural, ethnic, social, demographic and ecological relations from the late 4th to the late 6th centuries. It resulted in the re-evaluation of written sources, archives, archaeological and palynological materials.  A number of excavations were also carried out during the course of the project, as well as numerous anthropological, geophysical and palaeobotanical analyses of the sediments and pollen collected.

Monografia Migrations in Europe on the turn of the Antiquity and Middle Ages © P. Deska, A. Zapolska
Monograph Migrations in Europe on the turn of the Antiquity and Middle Ages
© P. Deska, A. Zapolska

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Bioarchaeology of the Near East – volume 14 is now available

After a few months of pandemic delay, the new volume of Bioarchaeology of the Near East has been issued online. This time, there are four regular papers and five short fieldwork reports, as well as the obituaries of Holger Schutkowski and Alina Wiercińska, two longtime members of the journal’s Editorial Board who passed away in the last two years.

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Modular construction in Byzantine Marea (Egypt)

Marea was an important port and trading center in northern Egypt in ancient times. Until now, archaeologists have focused on the study of individual single buildings on the site. In 2017, work began on a comprehensive identification of the urban grid, consisting of the buildings, streets, and the port. The results of the study, recently published in Antiquity, indicate that modular construction in Byzantine Marea was part of a larger urban program, one of the few at the end of Antiquity.

Budynki modułowe w Marei © M. Gwiazda, na licencji CC BY 4.0
Modular construction in Marea
© M. Gwiazda, published under CC BY 4.0

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Enigmatic Material from the Time of the Egyptian Pyramid Builders

There are many myths surrounding metalworking technologies from the time of the ancient Egyptian pyramid builders. The most common are that no tools have been preserved for research and that ancient Egyptians were only familiar with pure copper. Neither is correct, however: a recent study by Czech researchers, published in the renowned international Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, enriched our knowledge of Old Kingdom metalworking technology based on archaeological material originating from Giza.

Giza, dolny lewy owal zaznacza miejsce, z którego pochodzą badane zabytki fot. M. Odler © Filozofická fakulta, Univerzita Karlova, Praha, Český egyptologický ústav
Giza, the bottom-left oval marks the place where the studied finds originated
photo Martin Odler © Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Czech Institute of Egyptology

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Chimú vessel found in Biłgoraj county, eastern Poland

A Facebook post published on the 16th of July described an unusual find in Biłgoraj county in eastern Poland. In the 2nd half of 2020, a very fragmented and destroyed pottery vessel, found in the attic, was delivered to the Biłgoraj Region Museum. After the initial analysis, this pottery artifact was identified as the product of the Peruvian Chimú culture, a strange find indeed. The vessel has a characteristic incised and anthropomorphic decoration as well as an iconic form of the stirrup spout bottle. The dark color of the surface is the result of low oxygen reduction atmosphere in which the pot has been fired.

 

 

Naczynie kultury Chimú odnalezione w okolicach Biłgoraja © K. Grochecki
Chimú vessel found in the Biłgoraj county
© K.Grochecki

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Poles on the Fringes of Mesoamerica

Archaeologists from the University of Warsaw have commenced archaeological excavations at a pre-Hispanic site in El Salvador. Apart from a few mentions in the literature and sporadic, mostly informal, visits by local and foreign archaeologists, the site of San Isidro remained hitherto uninvestigated.

Wykopaliska na El Cerrito – największa struktura San Isidro © J. Szymański / PASI, zdjęcie na licencji CC BY 4.0
Excavations at El Cerrito – the largest structure at San Isidro
© J. Szymański / PASI, zdjęcie na licencji CC BY 4.0

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