Mycenaean mystery shrouds hill in southern Poland

Located in southern Poland, Zyndram’s Hill has been recognised as an intersection of many a historic epoch, the oldest of which goes as far back as the early bronze age 1,700 BC and now archaeologists have acquired evidence that the hill’s oldest inhabitants might have actually immigrated from Mycenaean Greece.

Did King Agamemnon’s cousin set the cornerstones of the bronze-age stronghold?

According to Marcin Przybyła, head of an interdisciplinary research team tasked with fathoming out the Zyndram’s Hill mystery, the settlement was established by “a group of settlers from southern Europe, something evidenced by the materials used to build the hillfort, its architecture and the earthenware. The Southerners chose a spot characterised by a good solar exposition – a place where temperatures are higher than in the valley below.”

The scientists said that the earthenware found on the excavation site is of much higher quality than that dated back to younger epochs. The architecture of the fortified settlement, considered “one of the oldest examples of monumental fortifications in Europe”, also reveals some peculiar traits.

“Possibly symbolising humanoids, tall rock slabs were put at the entrance,” said Mr Przybyła, adding “we’ve found out that the slabs bare marks of violence, fire and tools as if someone tried to shatter them. Perhaps a religion-motivated revolt burst out and that is why they tried to destroy the slabs.”

The stronghold’s entrance is just part of the 200 m-long, 3 m-tall and 2 m-thick walls discovered by Jagiellonian University scientists and students. Within the walls, a dozen clay-covered wicker-bin-like houses were once constructed.

The answer might be instilled not in the walls alone, but also in treble-shaped votive figurines possibly embodying a female deity. “Such figurines were found by the Palace of Mycena, that is why we presume that the locals originated from within southern Mediterranean civilization’s perimeter,” said Mr Przybyła.

A tourist magnet?

Mr Przybyła expressed his hope that the yet to be fully revealed mystery of the earliest settlers of Zyndram’s Hill and “wise usage of the site will serve the touristic development of the area. It is worth mentioning that the excavation site and the [nearby village of] Maszkowice are already recognised by scientists all over the world.

Doctor Krzysztof Duda of the Jesuit University of Philosophy and Education Ignatianum in Kraków said that “the breakthrough archaeological discovery should be used… to attract tourists from all over the world thus propelling the flywheel of local rural tourism.”

The name “Zyndram’s Hill” originated from misattribution of the hill to a Polish Medieval knight and royal official Zyndram of Maszkowice. This false assumption was debunked by archaeologists.