THE  CARPATHIAN  TROY     _ _ 

On  the  basis  of the  research  done  so  far, the  story  of  this  place  is  as  follows :

At the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 2100 BC, a Pleszów group belonging to the Mierzanowice Culture arrived here. They deforested the area and built an extremely well fortified settlement around 0.60 ha in area, making use of the very good conditions. Their settlement was defended by the steep slopes, a palisade, and an earthwork 2.5 m. thick reinforced on either side by a wooden wall with a palisade set up at a slight inclination towards the inside of the settlement. The earthwork ran round the southern and western perimeter, where access was easiest. On the north and east the settlement was defended by a palisade and the steep slopes. The walls of the earthwork were constructed of wooden logs fitted between pairs of posts set upright into the ground at intervals of 1.7 to 1.8 m.   

The Pleszów people engaged in arable farming and animal grazing, hunting, fishing, weaving, and working stone (which would sometimes be imported from considerable distances away), bone and antler, and they used bronze products. They made high-quality pottery.

The site at Trzcinica has the first and oldest Pleszów fortified settlement in Poland. It is also the largest and richest of the settlements belonging to this people discovered in Poland so far.

At Trzcinica we discovered around 30 thousand artefacts, mostly fragments of extremely well made, thin-walled clay pots, beakers, amphorae, and dishes. Some of them were decorated with patterns of cord impressions, incisions, small protruding bumps, or fancy rims and trimmings. We also found the remains of feasts: large quantities of bones from domestic and wild animals, as well as bone products such as needles, awls, perforators, chisels, ornaments, antler tools, and clay animal figurines. There were also numerous stone and flint products made of local and imported materials: arrowheads, axes, and stone querns.

We also discovered a doubly wound coil of wire (an ear-ring which one of the female inhabitants of the settlement had lost). The palaeobotanical artefacts (charred bits of wood, and the remnants of plants and seeds) and the osteological remains (bones) helped us to get an idea of what the settlement’s natural environment and economic situation was like. Its inhabitants were strongly influenced by people living south of the Carpathians, and this was reflected in their defence structures and artefacts.

The noteworthy artefacts we found included animal figurines made of clay, and clay model cartwheels from a cart that was either a toy or used in religious worship. This was a direct proof of Trans-Carpathian influence. Already at this time there was a strong cultural impact coming from what is now Slovakia. The passes through the Low Beskid Mountains made a convenient north-south route. Around 1600 BC the Otomani-Füzesabony peoples living in present-day Hungary, Rumania, and Slovakia settled in the watershed of the Wisłoka. They came to Trzcinica and occupied the Pleszów group’s settlement. At the time the Otomani-Füzesabony Culture was civilisationally the most advanced culture in the Carpathian Basin. Otomani-Füzesabony people built mighty fortified settlements, practised an advanced form of metal-working for bronze and even gold, and enjoyed contacts with the Mediterranean area. At Trzcinica we discovered over 40 thousand artefacts belonging to this people, mostly potsherds from their clay utensils decorated with their typical spiral, incised, or protruding ornamentation, large amounts of animal bones, and bone and antler products similar to the ones from the Mierzanowice settlement.

Some of the rare finds we obtained included a four-sided axe made of bone, the first of its kind discovered in Poland; a javelin-head, and a decorated buckle for a belt. We also found figurines of wild and domestic animals, clay model cartwheels and objects connected with religious worship. The Otomani-Füzesabony newcomers peacefully absorbed the indigenous Mierzanowice community living at Trzcinica and continued to use their fortifications, reinforcing and extending them in places. They built an entrance road with a gate-house through the earthwork. At some time there was a fire which gutted these structures, along with the reinforcements of the earthwork. The evidence for this is provided by a layer of debris, charred bits of timber and scorched earth.

The gutted settlement was rebuilt in exactly the same way, except for an additional broadening and heightening of the earthwork with a new inner wall, 3 m further into the settlement. The space in front of the gutted earthwork was covered with logs laid out next to one another, perpendicularly to the earthwork. The fortifications on the remaining sides of the settlement were left as they were. The area of the settlement was expanded by 2 ha, with extra fortifications in the form of a new cluster of buildings surrounded on the outside by a ditch. On the steep side of the hill there was a ditch cutting across the spit of land. The fortifications were expanded as well. Towards the end of this settlement’s existence, a fairly limited amount of influence from the Trzciniec Culture was reaching it from the north. The settlement’s demise came around 1300 BC.

We also discovered a bead made of Baltic amber here; along with unique specimens of bronze artefacts, e.g. an axe which was perhaps an attribute of power analogous to the ones found in Rumania and southern Hungary; a dagger; chisels, an axe, and a variety of ornaments.

There were also numerous stone and flint products: axes, arrowheads, querns, sickles, and other items. Mediterranean influences may be discerned in some of the utensil types and the bronze axe.

The head of a clay idol shaped like a human discovered at Trzcinica, unparalleled by anything else from Central Europe but known from the Mediterranean area, provided direct evidence for links with that distant region.

In the Trzcinica settlement we also found the remains of households. The evident links between the Otomani-Füzesabony Culture and the Trzcinica discovery indicating an association with the Mediterranean area inspired journalists to dub the Trzcinica settlement the “Carpathian Troy” or the “Troy of the North”. The large numbers of artefacts extant here, the good state of preservation of the defence structures, and the clear-cut settlement levels helped us to reconstruct the appearance of this settlement, its life and economic activities, which gave us the opportunity to revise our ideas of the beginnings of the Bronze Age in this part of Europe, obtain more precise estimates for the dating, and make the connections between events occurring on both sides of the Carpathians.                                                                                                                                                  

THE ROYAL EARTHWORKS

After the demise of the Bronze Age settlements the site was uninhabited until the Early Middle Ages.

Around 770-780 AD Slavs arrived here, and built a huge stronghold, 3 ha in area, on the site of the ancient fortifications. Today its earthworks are still in a good state of preservation and up to 10 m high in places. Its dimensions are 100 x 290 m.

The mediaeval stronghold has a central courtyard called the inner (upper) ward or bailey, surrounded by an earthwork, and another three coaxial rings of earthworks or walls arranged around it at intervals of 60-70 m, thereby giving rise to a series of outer (lower) wards used for the defence of the bailey from the side of easiest access.

A second outer wall was added for extra protection. The defence walls were made of earth and reinforced with wooden structures consisting of logs arranged in layers at right angles to the axis of the structure. In places there was a moat over 5 m deep in front of the earthwork defence wall, which was almost vertical and timbered or had an outer coat of wickerwork. In places the moat went right down to the bedrock, and was not so deep. Most probably there were towers at the strategic points.

The bailey was either not built up at all, or perhaps had buildings which have left no vestiges. There were mud-and-wattle cottages in the lower wards, in places arranged in a double row. In the event of an invasion the local people living in the settlements around the stronghold, a few of which have been discovered in the surrounding hills, would take refuge in the stronghold. This was a borderland area: attacks could come from the east (Ruthenia), or from the south (Hungarians). There were several fires in the stronghold. The dry wooden structures must have been readily combustible. The evidence for the large-scale fires is the charred earth, which must have burned at high temperatures, in the earthworks. These structures are still impressive today for their monumental size and smart engineering. In the Early Middle Ages this was a stronghold of key importance, perhaps it was the seat of the local prince. Well over 10 thousand Early Mediaeval artefacts have been found here, mostly potsherds decorated with a pattern of zigzags or wavy lines, and scores of iron objects such as arrowheads, knives, spurs, belt-buckles, ice-shoes, metal studs for shoe soles, the metal hoops for wooden pails, a sword hilt and many other artefacts.

An extremely important treasure of silver was discovered here, amounting to nearly 600 artefacts, including two gold pieces, coins, ornaments, silver pieces, and the trimmings from a sword sheath.

The treasure contains silver pieces coins: German (of Otton I, II, III; Henry II, IV; Bernhard I), English (of Ethelred II), Arabic. There are also decorations.

An uniqve artefact is silver trimming from a sword sheath. It was made probably in the neighbovrhood of the present-day Tallin (the capital of Estonia) by craftsman from the Liws' tribe (western Finns living at that time on the Bay of Riga).

A similar set of metal trimmings was discovered in Kiev, two others like it in present-day Lithuania, and another in Latvia. The treasure was probably abandoned when the stronghold was finally crushed. It may be dated to around 960-1020, which indicates that the stronghold was destroyed still in the early 11th century. The beginnings of the mediaeval stronghold have been dated to 770-780 AD by the dendrochronological method. A set of 16 radiocarbon readings confirm this dating.                                                      __________________________________________________________ The text above by courtesy of  Sub-Carpathian Museum in Krosno http://www.muzeum.krosno.pl/index.htm