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Rock Art Research 2017 - Volume 34, Number 2.
208
BRIEF REPORTS
Rock art in Poland:
contribution to discussion
By MACIEJ GRZELCZYK,
KRZYSZTOF RAK and MICHAŁ JAKUBCZAK
Introduction
Poland (along with the Netherlands) is thought to be
a country with very few rock art sites, or even no rock
art at all (Bahn 2010: 24). Although it is true that so far no


that this may change in the future. The images which

actually very rare in Poland. There are, however, several

 
of rock art are numerous in Poland, a short comment
on the real state of knowledge about them is valuable
as it may contribute to a change in the way rock art in
Poland is thought of, and may also serve as a stimulus
for further research. Below we present, in chronological
order, short descriptions of places where pictograms or
petroglyphs were discovered (Fig. 1).
Pictograms in int mines at Krzemionki

in south-eastern Poland may be considered as the


 
associated with Neolithic cultures of the Funnelbeaker


There are forty pictograms and most of them depict
irregular black signs — it is possible these are traces
of torches which were rubbed against the wall after
having burnt out. But it is worth noting that a few
pictograms are not just random marks (Fig. 2a). One


that we have information about pictograms discovered
in two large chambers located in the inner part of the

Unfortunately, these chambers did not survive to the
present day because of illegal exploitation of limestone
by local people. According to the diary of Krukowski,
the chambers were probably 8–9 m below the ground
surface. These chambers were between 150 and 200
cm high, with a diameter of several metres. It is worth

rubble, which precludes their usage for
mining and utilitarian purposes (Krukowski
1939: 65–66). During the investigation of the

antler mining tools were found, of which a
substantial part was undamaged and still in a

The best-known pictogram from

For a long time it functioned as the symbol of
the mine and in 2012 it was also chosen as the


some researchers are of the opinion that this
pictogram is a forgery — that it was made by a
student during internships in the 1960s; others,
however, point out that it was discovered
several years before these internships took
place and therefore its authenticity should

image itself is not clear. Some archaeologists
hypothesised that it is a depiction of a woman
Figure 1. The location of rock art sites in Poland: 1. Krzemionki; 2.
Kontrewers; 3. Tatra Mountains; 4. The Witches’ Rock.
209
Rock Art Research 2017 - Volume 34, Number 2.
in childbirth, hence possibly a representation of the

are of the opinion that this hypothesis goes too far and
cannot be accepted if based on the analysis of a single
enigmatic depiction.
The boulder from Kontrewers
Kontrewers is a hamlet in south-eastern Poland.
The boulder became famous via a series of articles

since this time the interest in the monument has faded




can be found on the boulder (Fig. 3). The larger of the





namely that the humans on the Kontrewers boulder are


by claiming that the idea of making such depictions
originated in Eurasia and subsequently crossed over to


‘backpacks’ are simply arms bent in a characteristic
manner and the analogy to Kokopelli goes far beyond

In 2006 the stone was excavated and moved to the
Mniów village where a special glass dome for it was

the archaeological works it was observed that the stone
with petroglyphs had been placed on several sandstone
slabs. The petroglyphs are currently painted white with
washable paint in order to improve their visibility.
Historical engravings in the Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains are the highest mountain

their area lies within the territory of Poland. So far,
 
in the Polish part of the Tatra Mountains. These are

are generally thought to be marks left by shepherds,
miners or so-called treasure hunters who lived there
between the 16th and 18th centuries (Stecki 1923;
  


(Fig. 4). They are concentrated in large mountain valleys
serving as convenient communication routes. By far the
greatest concentration of petroglyphs (forty-six sites: a
 

depictions in rockshelters and caves. Isolated locations
Figure 2. Pictograms of
Krzemionki int mines:
a) random marks; b)
anthropomorph.
Figure 4. Examples of petroglyphs from the
Tatra Mountains (after Stecki 1923).
Figure 3. The boulder from Kontrewers, in situ and presently (photographs by Zbigniew Krakowiak).
Rock Art Research 2017 - Volume 34, Number 2.
210
with similar petroglyphs were also discovered in the

  
though none of the currently known images found in
  
art, one cannot dismiss the possibility that much older
images still can be found there.
Skała Czarownic (in English: The Witches’ Rock)


in southern Poland. A pecked circle and two deeply
engraved crosses as well as other geometric forms can
be found there. The circle is superimposed by the lower
part of a geometric sign, evidently made by metal tools


(actions of the Catholic Church in the response to the
Protestants) and the related phenomenon of so-called
‘forest churches’ provide a valuable cultural and
chronological context. In 1654, Austrian authorities




resorted to engaging in religious practices in secret.
Inaccessible forests, often high in the mountains, were
chosen as meeting places. No large structures were
built in these locations for fear of further persecution.
Often the only traces of the fact that service was taking
place there are petroglyphs of a religious nature or loose
stone blocks. Such images, which reasonably can be
associated with ‘forest churches’, have been found in

chalice had been engraved on the rock wall by which
people gathered to perform
services (Below 2009: 98–109).
In our opinion it is worth to
consider the possibility that the

Rock was created in some pre-

as a relic of pagan times by local
Protestants who then engraved

Summary
It is true that Poland is poor
in rock art sites. The sample of
currently known sites which
we present in this report
proves that further research is

new sites but also to critically
evaluate current hypotheses
concerning known rock art,
where confirmation bias and
pareidolia are often prevalent.

Poland; mac.grzelczyk@gmail.com


Poland
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Figure 5. Petroglyphs on the Witches’ Rock.
Article
Thus far, prehistoric rock art has not been featured in the discourse concerned with the archaeology of Poland due to the absence of finds there belonging to this category. This text presents the very first identified specimens of cup marks in the present-day territory of Poland; all differ significantly in terms of context, which consequently determines the potential for interpreting the finds. The first is a boulder which was put in place as grave-marker at a Wielbark Culture site dated to Late Iron Age. The find appears to overlap with the general pattern of regularities observed in the funerary rituals of the Wielbark communities. The second instance is an isolated boulder with cup marks – most likely positioned ex situ – discovered at Wilcza (Greater Poland). Regarding the latter, available information contributes little to determination of chronology of the cup marks and the original location of the boulder in the landscape, thus obscuring the primary function of the feature. The third boulder yielded the most contextual information; it is situated within a complex of numerous Middle Bronze Age barrows in Smoszew, at a site which constitutes a part of the Bronze Age cultural landscape that has survived in the Krotoszyn Forest in southern Greater Poland. For the authors, this very feature served as a basis for a contextual and chronological analysis of rock art which has hitherto remained unknown in Poland. In light of obtained data, the cup-marked boulder from Smoszew should be approached as an element of the funerary landscape created by the Tumulus Culture community and evidence of broader cultural processes which linked particular regions of Europe in the Bronze Age.
Article
Full-text available
A Hettangian dinosaur footprint has been found near ancient petroglyphs in the Polish village of Kontrewers on the northern slope of the Holy Cross Mountains. This association of rock art with a dinosaur footprint in a place of possible occult gatherings is unique in Europe. Besides its intriguing association, the discovered ichnite is the earliest occurrence of a large ornithischian footprint referable to Moyenisauropus karaszevskii in Polish Liassic strata.
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