Archeological detective work uncovers Poland's largest prehistoric cemetery

Archeologists estimate that there could be over a dozen tombs on the site. Jan Bulas

Archeologists have found one of the largest megalithic cemeteries in Poland, after spotting anomalies in the surrounding area. 

Kraków researcher Jan Bulas had been looking at satellite images of a cultivated field in the municipality of Dębiany, near the town of Sandomierz in south-eastern Poland, when he noticed the outline of a quadrilateral foundation surrounded by a ditch.

The tombs are between 40 and 50 metres long, with the longer walls reinforced with wooden palisades, while the short eastern walls contained an entrance to a sort of tomb chapel.Jan Bulas

Travelling to the site with fellow archeologist Marcin M. Przybyła, the pair began carrying out magnetic research which led them to identifying the layout of the foundation and then discovering the megalithic tombs, which are believed to be around 5,500 years old.

The archeologists estimate that there could be over a dozen tombs on the site – if they were spread with equal density over the whole burial ground.

Satellite images revealed the outline of a quadrilateral foundation surrounded by a ditch. M. Przybyła/ M. Podsiadło

The tombs are between 40 and 50 metres long, with the longer walls reinforced with wooden palisades, while the short eastern walls contained an entrance to a sort of tomb chapel. 

The archeologists have called their discovery “megaxylons”, a term derived from two Greek words: “mega” (big) and “xylos” (wood).

The tombs, believed to be around 5,500 years old, were found after  archeologists conducted magnetic research. M. Przybyła/ M. Podsiadło

Przybyła said: “Unfortunately, most of the remains of the deceased and equipment were removed from these burials while the cemetery was in operation. 

“It was a ritual behavior that we often encounter in cemeteries from that period.” 

Given the discovery’s significance, archeological research in the field is now expected to continue in coming years to shed more light on the ancient burial ground.