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Archeology Department

The tradition of collecting archeological items in Bydgoszcz dates back to 1880’s and is linked to the establishment of the Historical Society. Atthat time the objects gathered included fossils, animal bones, and, mainly, a wide assortment of artifacts related to the ancient times of the history of man. Most of the items obtained at that time did not come from field research but were handed over by finders, obtained through purchases and exchange of various categories of objects with other societies or institutions. During a few dozens years of its existence, the Society undertook some attempts of recording those remnants of the past. All of the acquisitions were well looked after and entered in an inventory book that is being kept until today. Unfortunately, in 1919 the objects that were most suited for exhibition and the most valuable items were taken by Germans to Berlin.

After Bydgoszcz regained its independence, works aiming at the reconstruction of archeological collections began. The remaining items of the Society’s collections provided substructure for the museum founded in the liberated Bydgoszcz. In interwar period, the institution did not have an archeologist in its staff; however, it kept gathering gifts from the neighbouring areas and participated in archeological interventions. Conducting of archeological works of a broader scope was consigned to researchers from other institutions. At that time excavation researches were carried out at a Lusatian culture graveyard located in the grounds of a hospital being built in Bielawy (at present the Doctor Antoni Jurasz University Hospital) and in the fortified settlements: Zamczysko and Fordon (Wyszogród). Until the outbreak of World War Two it was possible to gather quite a sizeable collection of archeological items, with the especially distinguished ones related to the Pomeranian culture (from the 6th-4th c. BC). Unfortunately, war actions led to yet another decimation of the Bydgoszcz archeological collections.

Their sorting and systematization was commenced in 1950’s by an archeologist Czesław Potemski, the founder of the Department of Archeology in the Bydgoszcz museum. On his initiative, a scientific storage house for archeological collections was arranged in accordance with the existing legal requirements, and providing the base for the functioning of a modern museum. From the moment of setting up of the Department of Archeology, the researches concerned with to obtaining archeological sources have been concentrating mainly on the Bydgoszcz district and the area of Krajna (Sępólno and Nakło districts). Until the 1990’s, employees of the museum were also involved in a number of rescuing and supervisory works in relation to excavations conducted around the city. The majority of archeological materials is obtained through excavation works carried out by the museum’s employees, and complimented with the donations of the Regional Institution for Protection of Cultural Historic Monuments in Toruń, Department in Bydgoszcz.

At the moment, archeological collections consist of 19,000 historic items. The most valuable of them (listed in chronological order) include: bone harpoon blades, a dugout boat, treasures of bronze decorations, a collection of face urns from the early Iron Age, a group of historical objects from the 2nd and 3rd c., and a 10th c. Viking sword. In Poland, the findings of bone harpoon blades of that kind dating back to the mid Stone Age – the Mezolithic period, are extremely rare. A chronological analysis of a wooden boat carried out by radioactive carbon method C-14 provided an outstanding result. It turned out that the dougout boat kept in Bydgoszcz is the oldest boat of that kind in Poland and, at the same time, one of the oldest ones in Europe. This oak canoe discovered in Suchorączek, Sępólno district, was used to penetrate water areas about 2500 years B.C. The collections also include collective findings (greater quantities of items or their fragments hidden by their owners with the intention of their retrieval) defined by archeologists as treasures. A distinguishable treasure within those collections is the treasure from Gromadno- Wojciechowo that comprises of 7 pauldrons, 6 bracelets, 1 necklace and 1 ring, and a treasure of spiral bracelets made from bronze tape discovered in Bydgoszcz-Łoskoń. A collection of a few dozens of face urns gathered in the museum is one of the most interesting such collections in Poland. The urns were obtained as a result of accidental finds and systematic excavation researches conducted in the burial grounds of the Pomeranian people, including those in Toninek, Mrocza, Kozia Góra, and, in more recent years, in Zakrzewska Osada, Tuszków and Mierucin. Some of the items show individual features, e.g. the so-called “bearded man” from Mrocza. Other, analogical face urns from that area that would show beards are non-existent. On the other hand, a rich narration scene showing fifteen quadrupeds (deer) on an urn from Toninek, caused that copies of it are used for numerous archeological exhibitions in Poland. From the number of historic objects obtained through research conducted in Zakrzewska Osada, the group of particular value is a large assortment of fibulas from the turn of the 2nd and 3rd c., which, until then, were only sparsely represented in the collections. They are great carriers of scientific information (date indicators), and also have an exhibiting and artistic value. They represent the artistry of prehistorical metal handicraft. From the period of early Middle Ages, special attention should be drawn to a sword from the 10th c. found in Lutówek, Sępólno district. The plaited ornamentation of the cross, a typical example of Scandinavian decorative art, indicates that the weapon comes from the times of the Vikings.

In the history of the Department of Archeology of the District Museum in Bydgoszcz counting over fifty years, its employees managed to arrange about 50 exhibitions with the use of archeological items. Besides permanent exhibitions devoted to the earlies history of the region, for instance, Bydgoszcz in the light of archeological research, Prehistory of the Bydgoszcz region, also various monographic expositions were presented, e.g. A Proto-Slavic burial ground Bydgoszcz – Brdyujście, Face urns, Bronze products in prehistory, as well as exhibitions devoted to some problematic issues, such as Monument protection in the 20 years of the Polish People’s Republic, The Goths and their secrets. Many of them were organized outside the mother seat of the museum, in its departments, at the local authorities’, arts centres. Archeological collections also take part in the general museum exhibitions. Moreover, historic items were also rendered available for exhibitions held in other museums in Poland. Temporary exhibitions in Biskupin, where the exhibits of Bydgoszcz were also put out, were attended by several dozen thousands of visitors. So far, the vast majority of archeological exhibitions was held in the Museum facilities at Grodzka and Gdańska Streets. Since 2009, the building of the White Granary was made available for archeological exhibitions. In the years 2006-2008 this building underwent thorough renovation. The White granary, situated at 2 Mennica Street, is the oldest facility in the complex of postindustrial buildings located on the Mill Island (former Okole). It was built in the last decade of the 18th c. and, for as long as 1974, it served as a grain storage area. Like other granaries in Bydgoszcz, it was built as a half-timbered construction with plastered brick fillings. An unquestionable advantage of this facility is its brick basement with a cross vault, supported by massive pillars. In some studies it functions as a gothic basement from the 15th c. However, it is more probable that only the bricks used in its construction come from that period. There are no indications of any gothic buildings on the Mill Island; however, it is known that it was common in the 18th c. to use the bricks retained from demolition of medieval structures in Bydgoszcz, e.g. the castle, for the construction of new buildings. Due to the unique climate of its interior, it is planned to use it as a place for temporary exhibitions of various subject matters. Archeological items are displayed on the first floor and partly on the ground floor of the building. It was planned to render the collections available to visitors in two phases. Within the first phase, an exhibition was opened on the ground floor, titled In the town of Bydgost. Mysteries of lives of the citizens of medieval Bydgoszcz and its surroundings, presenting early medieval period. The second phase, on the other hand, encompasses the arrangement of an exhibition titled On the borderline of the Great Poland and Pomerania. Bydgoszcz and its region at the dawn of time, that will provide a reconstruction of prehistory. Despite separate titles, they will constitute one whole, and their placement on two separate floors will enable familiarization with the earliest periods either in a traditional way, in a chronological order (starting with the first floor), or retrospectively (starting with the ground floor).

 


Images:

IV. The period of formation of the Polish State (10)
IIII. On the border of the Roman world (14)
II. In the land of the dead in the era of universal cremation (15)
I. The first time hunters and farmers (10)




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