The Lost Village

One of poorly recognized areas, in archaeological terms, is the south-eastern part of Tuchola Forest. Despite the fragmentary recognition conducted as a part of the Polish Archaeological Record (AZP), large, forest-covered areas still remain unexplored, as far as the presence of past human settlements is concerned. Only the use of analyses related to the digital terrain model showed the possibility of the former settlement functioning in this area.

The use of ALS methods in archaeology made it possible to conduct prospecting research in forest areas, which so far have been inadequately recognized due to the AZP surface method dominant in Polish archaeology. It allows the registration of archaeological monuments with their own field form, which were previously unnoticeable in the landscape, due to the difficult access and limited visibility in forest areas or poorly legible form on the ground. Some indication of the possibile occurrence of the past human settlement in the studied area was also obtained due to palynological data for this area. The data pointed to the possibility of functioning of past settlement in the area, which until now was not registered thanks to conducted archaeological surveys.

The range of the preserved relics of the spatial layout of the Lost Village (made by J. Czerniec).

Thanks to the application of the spatial analyses in the area of research, an area of 170 hectares was separated, on which objects of anthropogenic origin were registered. Their shape indicated the preserved relics of the spatial layout of the former human settlement. DTM analysis permitted us to observe objects, the structure of which could indicate the area in which the agricultural economy was likely to be led (arable fields), as well as indicate the place of the probable human settlement (living space). In addition, the preserved communication system related to the functioning of this housing estate (road relics) has been shown. Registered spatial arrangement did not seem to be representative of late medieval or modern human settlements that dominate in the immediate vicinity of the studied area. The observed arrangement of fields rather seemed to match the spatial arrangements of fields, registered in northern Europe, in the area of the Jutland Peninsula, the British Isles, whether in the Netherlands and interpreted as a so-called “Celtic Fields”, dated to the Iron Age.

Local Relief Model image of the settlement (made by J. Czerniec).

The analyses of the field system made it possible to identify among the complex of blocks, the area of 250 ares, in the central part of the system. It is characterized by a structure of anthropogenic forms, different to that of the surrounding fields. Thanks to the use of a higher resolution, it was possible to recognize the spatial layout among them, possibly reflecting the structure of fences or housing system of the settlement.

The vessel found during excavation (phot. J. Czerniec).

The results of the survey excavations carried out in the location selected by the researchers as the area of the human settlement, exceeded our boldest expectations. During excavations were registered traces of settlement from nearly 2 thousand years ago. In addition to stratifications and relics related directly to the place where people lived, in the first centuries of our era, our excavation team also came across a single cremation grave, which was buried in the earlier deposits associated with the settlement. It is striking that the grave was most probably covered with a barrow made of material gathered around it, as evidenced by traces visible on the Digital Terrain Model and a large number of pottery and other relics from the settlement, found inside the burial mound. It should be mentioned that during the excavation and surface surveys in the area of the discovered settlement, we have found relics whose collection closes in one chronological span, in the Roman Iron Age period, which can clearly indicate the origin of this human settlement.

The profile of the survey trench set at the settlement (made by Laser-3D).

We believe that the importance of the discovery should not be undervalued. If everything is confirmed, the discovered hamlet will be probably the only completely preserved and visible on the surface of the earth prehistoric human settlement existing throughout Europe. For our team, the most important challenge now is the indisputable confirmation of the chronology of our discovery and the collection of funds for further research. Such a unique place deserves special attention and protection. The first comparison that we have, in connection with this discovery, is that we have most likely managed to find a human settlement, which in its degree of preservation can be compared to the well-known Biskupin. However; as far as Biskupin is concerned, it is located under the water of a lake, in an environment that is definitely more likely to preserve the traces of the human past. In the case of the settlement from Bory Tucholskie, it is preserved on the surface of the earth only thanks to the fact that it has been hidden under the forest cover for centuries. Thanks to this, we managed to register its subtle spatial forms, such as the layout of fields or road remains.

Authors: M. Sosnowski; J. Czerniec.

More pictures and DTM images from The Lost Village you can find here…

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