Monday, September 17, 2012

Drought in Poland reveals 400-year-old sunken treasures

Dagmara Leszkowicz in Reuters: A huge cargo of elaborate marble stonework that sank to the bottom of Poland's Vistula river four centuries ago has re-appeared after a drought and record-low water levels revealed the masonry lying in the mud on the river bed.

Archaeologists believe the stonework was part of a trove which 17th-century Swedish invaders looted from Poland's rulers and loaded onto barges to transport home, only for the booty to go to the bottom when the vessels sank.

Researchers knew about the artefacts, on the river bed where the Vistula passes through the Polish capital but, before the drought, retrieving them was a painstaking task because they were under several feet of water.

Now though, the masonry - large blocks of carved marble which were used in the columns, fountains, and staircases of Polish palaces - is lying exposed apart from a coating of foul-smelling yellow mud.

"The drought helped us a lot because what had been lying underneath is now at the surface," said Hubert Kowalski, Deputy director of the University of Warsaw Museum, leading the effort to retrieve the marble stonework....

The Vistula, in Krakow, shot by Radosław Drożdżewski (Zwiadowca21), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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