Field research at Kroczyce, July 2013
27 June - 28 July 2013, armed with permits from the Monuments Protection Office in Częstochowa and the Regional Directorate of Environment Protection in Katowice, we investigated the cave at Kroczyce (Kroczyce commune), known variously as Under the Window (pod Oknem), and locally, as Hanging Cave.
The fieldwork was led by Marcin Rudnicki, with co-operation from Maciej Sobczyk, both from the University of Warsaw Institute of Archaeology. The team included 15 students from Warsaw and 5 students from Krakow, all of them very eager and dedicated. The work was interdisciplinary in character, with participation of specialists in paleobotany, archaeozoology, speleology, geology, geomorphology, and even ... chiropterology (bats!), including Mikołaj Urbanowski (Szczecin University), Paweł Socha (University of Wrocław) and Artur Troncik – who originally discovered the cave. The excavation was preceded by a detailed 3D documentation, made by Marta Bura and Janusz Janowski from the Scanner Lab Institute of Archaeology University of Warsaw, to reconstruct the cave interior during its Iron Age occupation phase. So far, this is one of only a small number of 3D documentations of a cave to be made in Europe.
During the first week the focus was on logistics, technical matters and organization, as required by modern standards of this type of research: we cleared and prepared the site, laid out the grid, installed lighting inside the cave, secured the cave ceiling, set up the flotation device, etc. During this stage many unique and unexpected challenges to research arose, making necessary extra labour and resources. For example, there was need to organize round-the-clock monitoring of the site and to install additional, previously unforeseen, structures to keep the cave ceiling from falling on our heads.
As a result of the fieldwork carried out - not without some heavy labour - in the main chamber of the cave we reached the occupation level from the Roman Period and the Migration Period. After the removal of a fragment of a massive spoil heap left behind by calcite prospectors and treasure hunters, made up of tons of very large rock fragments, some of which had to be broken up first, the chamber interior started looking quite impressive. Its attraction to settlement is now more obvious and understandable. The excavated material included a few hundred archaeological objects from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman Period, Migration Period, the medieval and post-medieval age, pottery in particular. There was also a formidable quantity of bone, mostly animal, but also some human remains. For the time being, the dating of this material is unclear. A more outstanding find were the remains of a forgery workshop which minted copper shillings of John II Casimir (second half of the 17th century). Much of this impressive body of evidence was recovered thanks to the use of flotation (wet sieving of the cave deposits) and metal detectors. Paleobotany, archaeozoology and C14 samples were taken from the occupation level. Last but not least, thanks to some human goodwill, we recovered several objects taken out of the cave before it came under regular excavation, more notably, three Roman denarii.
The site was visited by Institute of Archaeology UW staff members (Dr. Wojciech Wróblewski, Dr. Andrzej Maciałowicz, Dr. Małgorzata Kot, Ludwika Jończyk, Magda Woińska and others) and by Dr. Adam Degler from the Ossoliński National Institute in Wrocław.
The cave has now been secured, sealed and is monitored by satellite
Archaeological fieldwork is to continue for at least two more years. After its completion the cave will be made available for sightseeing
Our warm thanks go to everyone for their help and kindness.
You will find the photo gallery here http://www.mpov.uw.edu.pl/pl/badania/badania-archeologiczne/kroczyce-2013-sprawozdanie-z-badan