15.07.2019 change 15.07.2019

UNESCO adds Krzemionki to the World Heritage Site List

Archaeological museum and reserve "Krzemionki" in Krzemionki near Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. Photo: Piotr. Polak 19.06.2019 Archaeological museum and reserve "Krzemionki" in Krzemionki near Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. Photo: Piotr. Polak 19.06.2019

During the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, striped flint mines and neolithic settlements in Krzemionki were inscribed onto the World Heritage Site List, the UN agency announced on Twitter.

Krzemionki near Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski is an area of prehistoric striped flint mines and associated prehistoric settlements. In addition to Krzemionki, they include the mines "Borownia" and "Korycizna" as well as the neolithic settlement on the hill "Gawroniec".

Poland proposed this area, under the name "Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region", for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in the beginning of 2018. In September 2018, an expert of UNESCO advisory body ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) visited Krzemionki. In the spring of this year, based on the expert`s opinion, ICOMOS issued a positive recommendation regarding the inscription and sent it to UNESCO. Such an opinion is not binding on UNESCO.

The prehistoric mining region is located on the north-eastern edge of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, in the districts of Ostrów and Opatów, in the communes of Bodzechów, Ćmielów and Ożarów. The area covers 349.2 hectares and consists of four parts: the main mining field in Krzemionki, two smaller mining fields "Borownia" and "Korycizna" located in the same geological structure, and a permanent settlement of prehistoric miners in Gawroniec - its inhabitants processed the material received from the mines, which was then used in trade.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage emphasises on its website that the Krzemionki area is "one of the greatest known pieces of the archaeological heritage of prehistory". "Its uniqueness lies in the preservation of clear traces of prehistoric human activity focused on the extraction and processing of flint in a huge area" - the ministry notes.

In mid-June, the authorities of three communes, in which the unique traces of prehistoric mining are located, signed a letter of intent regarding the creation of a cultural park. The creation of a cultural park - which is one of the forms of monument protection - is intended as a step towards the protection of cultural and natural values of this area.

During the meeting in Krzemionki in February, Deputy Director of the National Heritage Institute Mariusz Czuba emphasized that it was "absolutely the most important archaeological site in Poland, one of the most important sites in the world".

"It has been the topic of discussions for years, since the discovery (...) It turned out that in the centre of Poland there was something that could be defined as the first industrial area in the history of humanity. By mining flint, processing it and transporting over large distances, the local communities formed a kind of an industrial civilization" - Czuba added and noted that in the archaeological community Krzemionki had long been regarded as a world-class site.

The striped flint mines in Krzemionki were discovered in 1922 by a geologist from Ostrowiec, Prof. Jan Samsonowicz. They were quickly recognized as a monument. Since 1994, they have a status of a historical monument, and since 1995 also a nature reserve.

Prehistoric striped flint mines near Ostrowiec come from the younger Stone Age and early Bronze Age (4th - 2nd millennium BC). About 4,000 shafts connected by a network of passages have been discovered in Krzemionki; the shafts are up to 9 meters deep. In the mines, flint was mined from limestone and used to manufacture tools.

In Krzemionki, both underground architecture - shafts and passages, through which the miners moved - as well as the landscape on the surface have been well preserved; you can still see shaft craters, former mine entrances surrounded by limestone debris. In Krzemionki, unlike in other archaeological objects of this type, it is possible to see various types of mines: from shallow pit mines and niche mines to deep pillar-chamber mines and chamber mines. (PAP)

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