The Lost Village

One of these poorly identified areas, in terms of archaeological features, is the south-eastern part of Tuchola Forest. Despite the partial recognition conducted as part of the Polish Archaeological Record (AZP), large, forest-covered areas still remain unexplored in view of the presence of past human settlements. Only the use of analyzes related to the numerical terrain model showed the possibility of the former settlement functioning in this area.

The use of ALS methods in archaeology enabled conducting prospecting research in forest areas, which so far have been poorly recognized due to the AZP method of surface investigations prevailing in Polish archaeology. It allows the registration of archaeological monuments with their own field form, which were previously unnoticeable in the landscape, due to difficult access and limited visibility in forest areas or poorly legible form on the ground. In the case of subtle forms, such as relics of objects with a small denivelation, their visibility in the area is affected by vegetation cover and forest management carried out for many years, which causes that residues of this type are most often violated and subjected to transformations, thus making their identification difficult. Some indication, in terms of the possibility of occurrence of the settlement network in the studied area, was also provided by palynological data for this area, which indicated the possibility of functioning of past human settlement in this space, which until now was not registered thanks to archaeological research.

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

Thanks to the application of the spatial analyzes in the area of ​​research, an area of ​​170 hectares was separated, where objects of anthropogenic origin were registered,the shape of which indicated the preserved relics of the spatial layout of the former human settlement. DTM analysis enabled 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 denote 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. Using high resolution of the resulting models, observations were made at 1: 300 scale, which allowed to assess the forms, structure and condition of field relics. The boundaries of blocks of fields are visible in the depictions, as well as the division into nivas. The size of individual blocks varies from 12 to 20 ares. The width of the intersections between the blocks is between 5 and 10 meters. Such a 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 correspond directly to the spatial arrangements of fields registered in northern Europe, in the area of ​Jutland, the British Isles and 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 analysis of the field system allowed identifying in its central part, among the complex of blocks, the area of ​​250 ares characterized by a structure of anthropogenic forms different from the surrounding fields. Thanks to the use of higher resolution it was possible to recognize the spatial layout among them, probably reflecting the structure of fences or dwellings of the settlement. At the same time, linear structures were found in the E-W and N-S axes running at E from the mentioned area. The system of linear structures indicates the relics of the communication network (roads), which probably connected the discussed site with the main communication route – the Vistula River, which is about 20 km away from the research area.

The results of excavations carried out in the place chosen by the researchers as the area of ​​the human settlement exceeded our boldest expectations. During the excavations, traces of settlements from before almost 2,000. years were registered. In addition to stratifications and monuments related directly to the place where people lived, in the first centuries of our era, we also came across a single cremation grave, which was buried in the earlier deposits associated with the settlement. It is striking that this grave was most probably covered with a mound made of material gathered around it, as evidenced by traces visible on the numerical model of the terrain and a large number of ceramics and other monuments from the settlement, located in the mound of the burial mound. During the conduct of both excavation and surface survey in the area of ​​the discovered settlement, monuments were discovered, the collection of which closes in one chronological interval, in the Late Roman Period, clearly indicating the origin of this human settlement.

Profile of the survey trench (made by J. Krawiec – Laser 3D)

As a research team, we trust that the importance of the discovery is immense. 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. The discovered settlement deserves special attention and, above all, adequate protection. The estate in its degree of preservation of human existence traces can be compared to the well-known Biskupin , which was preserved under the waters of the lake, in an environment that is definitely more friendly to conserve traces of the human past. However, in the case of a settlement from Bory Tucholskie, it is preserved on the surface of the earth only because it has been hidden under the forest cover for centuries. Thanks to this state of affairs, our team managed to register subtle spatial forms of the hamlet, such as, among others, the arrangement of fields or road relics.

M.S. J.C.

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