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11 November 2017
Can Polish group save an important Neolithic site?

A battle is ongoing in eastern Poland to save a very important range of Neolithic structures from total destruction. The range of Gory tombs in question (named after the rural area of eastern Wielkopolska where they were discovered) have lain virtually unnoticed for centuries.
     The top layer of stones, which covered up to 15 long barrows, has long since been plundered to help build local houses, but what lay beneath remained intact and unexplored. That is until a team of local archaeologists started to map the area using LIDAR (short for Light Detection and Ranging) which enabled them to pot what lay in the ground without any intrusive investigation.
     Even so, what has been discovered so far ranks this site as one of the most important of its kind in Europe, ranking it alongside such well known sites as West Kennet Long Barrow (UK) and the Carnac Stones in France.
     Even before there is any chance to evaluate the full potential of this site it is under serious threat. The ZE PAK mining company has sought permission to carry out open cast coal mining right across the site! To attempt to prevent such a travesty Poland's historical monuments conservation authority has a temporary injunction in place, buying precious time.
     The group fighting to save the tombs, with the acronym DY-OPMN (Development YES - Open Pit Mines NO) are hopeful of success and believe they have the environmental lobby and the archaeological/historical/heritage factions on their side. They are quoted as saying "Are the Poles ready to sacrifice a priceless piece of European history, barely researched and still full of secrets?" They went on to say "The planned Oscislowo open-pit mine would [also] devastate the environment and economy of the Wielkopolska region".

Edited from Popular archaeology (11 October 2017)

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