Flood Defense Project Reveals Poland’s Ancient Past

March 11, 2014

Archaeological excavations in Southern Poland are revealing ancient treasures. The excavations make up a cultural heritage component of a World Bank-supported Odra River Flood Protection Project.

Archaeologists are busy excavating outside the town of Raciborz in Poland’s south.  

They’re looking for, and in many cases finding, valuable artifacts from Poland’s ancient past, says one of the archaeologists, Marek Aniola.

“Most are ceramics, pottery ceramics.  We found about 60,000 artifacts, which is tremendously rich,” says Aniola who is from the Polish Academy of Science.

The archaeological surveys in Raciborz and other regions of Poland’s Odra River Basin make up a cultural heritage component of a regional flood defense project, backed by the World Bank.

The Odra River Basin Flood Protection Project is digging and building flood-prevention structures in areas that have suffered severe flooding in the past, but not before each bit of affected terrain is thoroughly examined for possible ancient treasures it might – and often does – hold.  

" The planned area to be examined was 8 hectares, but until now we have examined 13 hectors, so you can say that almost more than double the area was finally given archaeological attention. "

Przemyslaw Bobrowski

Leading the archaeological excavations under the project

At the excavation site in Raciborz, a completely intact 6,000-year-old statue was found, shedding unprecedented light on Poland’s prehistoric past.

“This is the major discovery from this site.  It is called the Silesian Venus.  It is a feminine figure, and is absolutely unique.  On a national scale, it is the first statue of its kind ever found from this culture,” Aniola says.

He says that, in addition to the Silesian Venus, tens of thousands of pieces of pottery, jewelry, and prehistoric tools have been uncovered at the various sites being excavated ahead of the flood defense project’s digging.

The pieces are sent to the country’s laboratories where further study is revealing interesting information, including answers to what happened to some of Poland’s ancient inhabitants, says Aniola.

He adds, ironically, that “the fact that we find so many artifacts, tools, axes, pottery, and such figures, proves that this settlement was abandoned by the residents, quite suddenly,” some 6,000 years ago, due possibly to the same flash flooding that the Odra River Basin Flood Protection Project is now helping to prevent!

artifacts were found during the archaeological excavations.