Not that Dry a Land. The Specificity of Settlement in the Floodplains of the Middle Vistula Valley on the Example of the Settlement Cluster in Glinki, Otwock County
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Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne w Warszawie
Publication date: 2020-01-28
Wiadomości Archeologiczne 2019;LXX:271–280
Floodplains of large rivers are rarely the subject of archaeological research. The excavations at the cemetery of the Przeworsk culture at Czersk, Piaseczno County, and studies on the modern settlement in the Urzecze (literally at-the-river’s) microregion near Warsaw yielded data about the settlement in the Middle Vistula Valley across the ages and prompted a non-invasive examination of the area. In 2017, a large-scale fieldwalking survey took place in the southern part of the Urzecze floodplain, covering an area of ca. 83 square kilometres (Figs. 1, 2). The already known sites were verified, and numerous new sites from various historical periods were discovered. The survey was complemented with traditional research, such as cartographical and historical searches, as well as new solutions in the form of a digital elevation model, obtained by laser scanning of the ground surface and geophysical and underwater prospection. The character of settlement in the area, specific due to the natural conditions, can be illustrated on the example of the settlement cluster near the village of Glinki, situated on the right bank of the Vistula, at the latitude of Góra Kalwaria (Fig. 3). Settlement in periodically flooded areas is focused only in a few selected places, where the shape of the terrain guarantees relatively safe shelter during periods of regular but hard to predict overflows and dangerous inundations. In the case of the cluster in Glinki, small, elevated areas, difficult to notice in the field and surrounded by oxbow lakes that form natural reservoirs (polders), are legible (Fig. 4). The oldest traces of settlement date back to the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, then to the pre-Roman and Roman period and the Middle Ages, up to modern and contemporary times (Fig. 5, 6). The ‘insular’ nature of settlement (Fig. 9) in the floodplains of the Middle Vistula is confirmed by the observed presence of other, similar clusters situated on the former sandbanks and islands or their remains. The specificity of natural conditions (Fig. 7, 8, 10) and the rhythm of life in these areas influenced the flavour and specificity of the local culture, a phenomenon that has been well described for modern times (Ł.M. Stanaszek 2014). It is possible that in the earlier time periods some local differences within the large archaeological cultures are also to be expected. This can only be confirmed by future excavations in the area.