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5 January 2016
Bronze Age fortified settlement in Poland analysed

Studies of the fortified Bronze Age settlement in Bruszczewo, west-central Poland, reveal that it was founded by representatives of the Unetice culture shortly after 2000 BCE, and functioned for about 350 to 400 years.
     Excavations started in the 1960s, with interdisciplinary and international involvement beginning in the late 1990s.
     "What we excavated is important for the analysis of the beginnings of the Bronze Age in Europe", argues Professor Janusz Czebreszuk, head of research for the site for the Institute of Prehistory.
     The oval-shaped settlement occupied an area of 1.5 hectares, and measured approximately 120 metres in diameter. It had at most 100 residents, protected by a deep moat and at least two rows of wooden palisades. Fortifications were the objectives of the team's excavations in 2015.
     "We found scorch marks that clearly indicate that the fortifications had been destroyed by fire several times during the existence of the settlement", says Professor Czebreszuk. There were also numerous traces of repairs and alterations over the centuries. Environmental analysis clearly shows that the region around the settlement by around 1500 BCE had been heavily exploited. A possible clue to the end of the settlement is the discovery of dozens of flint arrowheads in various places in the settlement - more than in all other Unetice culture settlements combined.
     Among the latest findings are sensational discoveries regarding a bronze workshop within the settlement, proving that metallurgists worked here continuously for hundreds of years: "... a continuous, passed down from generation to generation knowledge of technology is certain - finished products were not arriving here from the outside", the professor explains. Also new is the discovery of traces of gold processing on stone tools.
     Intensive farming still threatens the registered prehistoric site. Fortunately, it is partly also in peat, which effectively preserves monuments and structures.
     "Maintaining water ratios within the settlement is crucial. Unfortunately, the area is constantly drained and adapted to more intensive cultivation, which could jeopardise maintaining the monuments. It is important that the relics of the settlement survive for future generations of researchers", says the professor, who has the support of the local government.
     To date, archaeologists have examined approximately 20 percent of the settlement surface

Edited from Science & Scholarship in Poland (30 December 2015)

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