ArticlePDF Available


Content may be subject to copyright.
Rock Art Research 2017 - Volume 34, Number 2.
Rock art in Poland:
contribution to discussion
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
‘Krzemionki Opatowski’. Monument prahistorii
Europy. Kopalnie krzemienia pasiastego
, P. 2010. Prehistoric rock art: polemics and progress. Cam-
bridge University Press, New York.
Lene kocioły: miejsca tajnych nabożestw
ewangelickich w Beskidzie ląskim
Teraz. wię-
tokrzyski Miesięcznik Kulturalny 10(22): 89.
   2006. Footprint of a
Triassic-Jurassic Terrestrial Transition, pp. 217–220. New
37, Albuquerque.
kich. Napis 17: 237–246.
 
skarbów. Wierchy 1: 43–49.
Wierchy 57: 156–168.
RAR 34-1238
Figure 5. Petroglyphs on the Witches’ Rock.
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.
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.
Krzemionki Opatowski'. Monument prahistorii Europy. Kopalnie krzemienia pasiastego. Muzeum Historyczno-Archeologiczne w Ostrowcu Świętokrzyskim
  • T J Bąbel
Bąbel, T. J. 2015. 'Krzemionki Opatowski'. Monument prahistorii Europy. Kopalnie krzemienia pasiastego. Muzeum Historyczno-Archeologiczne w Ostrowcu Świętokrzyskim, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski.
Prehistoric rock art: polemics and progress
  • P Bahn
Bahn, P. 2010. Prehistoric rock art: polemics and progress. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Leśne kościoły: miejsca tajnych nabożeństw ewangelickich w Beskidzie Śląskim
  • J Below
Below, J. 2009. Leśne kościoły: miejsca tajnych nabożeństw ewangelickich w Beskidzie Śląskim. Wydawnictwo Augustana, Bielsko-Biała.
Dinozaury spod Mniowa
  • D G Gierliński
Gierliński, D. G. 2005. Dinozaury spod Mniowa. Teraz. Świętokrzyski Miesięcznik Kulturalny 10(22): 89.
Krzemionki Opatowskie. Muzeum Techniki i Przemysłu
  • S Krukowski
Krukowski, S. 1939. Krzemionki Opatowskie. Muzeum Techniki i Przemysłu, Warszawa.
Skarby w Tatrach, znaki poszukiwaczy skarbów
  • K Stecki
Stecki, K. 1923. Skarby w Tatrach, znaki poszukiwaczy skarbów. Wierchy 1: 43-49.
Znaki naskalne w Tatrach Polskich, Lokalizacja znanych stanowisk, przegląd literatury i stan poznania
  • W W Wiśniewski
Wiśniewski, W. W. 1993. Znaki naskalne w Tatrach Polskich, Lokalizacja znanych stanowisk, przegląd literatury i stan poznania. Wierchy 57: 156-168.
Leśne kościoły: miejsca tajnych nabożeństw ewangelickich w Beskidzie Śląskim. Wydawnictwo Augustana
  • J Below
Below, J. 2009. Leśne kościoły: miejsca tajnych nabożeństw ewangelickich w Beskidzie Śląskim. Wydawnictwo Augustana, Bielsko-Biała.