11.12.2015 change 11.12.2015

Archaeologists discovered the lost burial ground in Mazury

Photo by Jolanta Błasiak-Wielgus Photo by Jolanta Błasiak-Wielgus

Archaeologists discovered nearly 400 priceless artefacts from before 1500 years in Kosewo near Mrągowo during the survey conducted in forest litter disturbed by ploughing. The site is a part of one of the richest and most famous cemetery complexes from the Migration Period in north-eastern Poland.

Archaeologists knew for a long time about the vast ancient necropolis, consisting of several independent cemeteries, located around Lake Probarskie - the first archaeological excavations in the area were carried out in the early twentieth century by Prussian researchers. They determined the extent and studied parts of the necropolis, to which gave numbers Kosewo I, II and III. Unfortunately, their precise locations were not marked on maps and some of the documents went missing, which also made it difficult to establish the facts.

Only ten years ago, archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw determined the proper location of Kosewo III, also thanks to ALS - air laser scanning. Last year, researchers from the Jerzy Okulicz-Kozaryn Dajna Foundation and the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw launched a rescue research project, because the necropolis began to be threatened by plunder. They recently summarised the season of work - over the past several months they performed a number of specialist analyses.

"These analyzes ultimately confirmed that we are dealing with the lost necropolis No. III, which functioned in the sixth and seventh centuries AD" - explained Agnieszka Jaremek, coordinator of research.

The dead were cremated and ashes placed directly in pits dug in the ground or in urns. Among the discovered items, archaeologists name objects made of gold, silver and bronze belt buckles and pins, brooches, bracelets, pendants - all were originally on pieces of clothing. Their analysis was made possible by funding that the Jerzy Okulicz-Kozaryn Dajna Foundation received last year from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the priority \'Protection of archaeological sites". These funds also enabled the conservation of finds, their laser scanning, as well as the publication of the catalogue and popular science folder, and organization of scientific conference and exhibition presenting the exhibits.

The researchers noted that securing and rescuing the historical objects discovered last year was only the beginning of a large-scale project.

"In view of continuous exposure to the destruction of valuable finds, the Kosewo cemeteries require urgent protection and inventory. Archival data indicate that the ground still hides hundreds of urn and pit graves, containing rich crematory burials" - said Marcin Gładki, co-author of the project.

Therefore, in successive seasons the researchers plan to carry out non-invasive exploration work in the area of the other necropolises: Kosewo I and Kosewo II. To participate in the expedition they invited Polish and European experts in modern research techniques, including laser scanning and geomagnetic measurements.

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