Innovative technology reveals over 900 previously unknown ancient monuments in Bialowieża Forest
Nearly a 1,000 ancient monuments have been found in the Bialowieża Forest with the help of innovative LiDar technology.
The colossal discovery, which includes 577 ancient burial barrows, 246 charcoal kiln sites, 54 tar plants, 19 complexes of ancient farmlands, 30 tranches, 51 semi-dugouts and 17 war cemeteries, and was made by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University (IA UKSW) in Warsaw.
Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances to the Earth.
The project’s coordinator Dr Joanna Warzeniuk, said: “Thanks to the use of new innovative new research methods, combined with numerous environmental analyses, we obtained fantastic results, despite our initial pessimism.”
While some of the confirmed burial mounds date from the early Middle Ages, the majority date from the Roman period between the 2-5th century AD.
Excavations revealed that whilst the mounds from the Middle Ages showed skeletal or corporal burials were present, those from Roman times did not contain human remains.
Dr Wawrzeniuk said: “The most surprising discovery made during these archaeological tests was the discovery of a fortified construction, which, contrary to first impressions, did not fulfil a defence function.
“Therefore, they were not hillforts. Perhaps they played ceremonial roles, but without excavations, archaeologists are not able to state this for definite.”
She added that prehistoric people and those living in the Middle Ages would have mainly inhabited small areas of higher ground in the forest with access to a river or stream, but it is not clear when the forest was most heavily exploited by humans as the outlines of ancient farmlands discovered differ in size and shape.
Archaeologists also found Slavic ceramics from both periods of the early and late Middle Ages, as well as prehistoric flint monuments.
At the site of a second construction, the team found small burnt animal bones and a bowl dating from the Roman period.
Analysis of the organic remains found that the site was used during two periods, 4th-3rd century BC and the 7th-10th century A.D.