jueves, 26 de diciembre de 2013

Early medieval strongholds in central Poland (Poland)

A non-invasive archaeological study of six early medieval strongholds has yielded new and surprising results. These sites had previously been excavated but further work revealed added information, according to Jerzy Sikora from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Łódź in Poland.
Archaeologists focused on sites in Chełm, Rękoraj, Rozprza, Stare Skoszewy, Szydłów and Żarnowo using a wide range of modern and traditional research methods: electrofusion and magnetic prospection, concentration of phosphorus in the soil, surface studies combined with GPS registration of material and existing LiDAR (aerial laser scanning) documentation from the Geodesic and Cartographic Documentation Centre.
Largest stronghold of Central Poland
Dr. Sikora who was one of the archaeologists involved in the project explained, “New information does not concern the strongholds themselves, but their surroundings. We have identified … previously unknown fortifications, roads, dykes, and even the extent of surrounding settlements”.
Particular attention has been paid to the results of the work in Chełm and analysis led to the identification of previously unknown defences such as walls and moats: something which it is hoped to verify later in the field.
“After the initial stage of research, it turned out that we were dealing with the largest stronghold of the Central Poland, and one of the largest in the country”  said Dr. Sikora.
The stronghold area exceeded 11 hectares and was surrounded by seven lines of walls and moats, only some of which ran full circuit.
Geophysical survey was performed in a 3 hectares area and showed that the spatial structure of the stronghold interior had been even more complex than the preserved terrain form would suggests.
Geophysical specialists were able to highlight magnetic anomalies which may indicate further internal divisions and roads inside the fortress.
Researchers also analysed the content of phosphorus compounds in the soil and found that the concentrations were high, indicating an intensive occupation of the site – the result of animal and human urine and faeces as well as rotting organic matter.
“We think this was a bustling hub, an important settlement centre, surrounded by numerous open settlements” explained Sikora.
Horseshoe-shaped defensive wall
The second site, which caught the attention of researchers, was Rozprza and until now it was thought that this was a small castle with an internal diameter measuring only 18 metres, founded in the ninth century and inhabited until the fourteenth century.
Analysis of aerial photographs taken in the spring of 2013 threw up new questions concerning the spatial form and revealed the presence of a second fortified settlement south of the outer wall. These observations have now been confirmed by geophysical studies done in the field, as well as detailed surveying. The study has indicated the existence of a mostly levelled, horseshoe-shaped defensive wall forming a classic double system.
“The specificity of non-invasive tests does not allow for a certain determination of chronology of the second segment of the stronghold. On the basis of the analysis of surface material we propose that it functioned in the XI -XIII centuries. A precise determination of the chronology of the object will be possible only after excavations”  said Dr. Sikora.

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