Nearly 1,000 ancient monuments have been discovered in the Bialowieża Forest using innovative LiDar technology.
The colossal find, which includes 577 ancient burial mounds, 246 coal kiln sites, 54 tar mills, 19 former farmland complexes, 30 trenches, 51 semi-dugouts and 17 war cemeteries, and was made by archaeologists from the Institute of Archeology of 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 varying distances from the Earth.
Project coordinator Dr Joanna Warzeniuk said: “Thanks to the use of innovative new research methods, combined with numerous environmental analyses, we have achieved 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 2-5e century of our era.
Excavations have revealed that while mounds from the Middle Ages showed that skeletal or bodily burials were present, those from Roman times contained no 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 fulfill a defensive function.
“Therefore, they were not fortresses. Perhaps they played ceremonial roles, but without excavation, archaeologists are unable to say for certain.
She added that prehistoric peoples 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 exploited by man because the contours of the ancient agricultural lands discovered differ in size and shape.
Archaeologists have also found Slavic ceramics from both the High and Late Medieval periods, as well as prehistoric flint monuments.
At the site of a second construction, the team found small bones of burnt animals and a bowl dating from Roman times.
Analysis of organic remains revealed that the site was used for two periods, 4e-3rd century BC and the 7e-tene century of our era