Prahistoryczne Kopalnie Krzemienia w Krzemionkach


Useful Information

Location: Sudół 135 a, 27-400 Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski.
From Ostrowiec 754 towards Lublin, After 8 km on the right, signposted.
(50.972256, 21.490041)
Open: JAN to MAR Mon 10-16, Wed-Sun 8-16, Tours Mon 10-13:30 every 30 min, Wed-Fri 9-14 every 30 minutes, Sat, Sun 9, 10, 11:30, 12:30, 14.
APR Mon 10-16, Wed-Sun 9-17, Tours Mon 10-13:30 every 30 min, Wed-Fri 9-15 every 30 minutes.
MAY to SEP Mon 10-16, Wed-Sun 9-18, Tours Mon 10-13:30 every 30 min, Wed-Fri 9-16 every 30 minutes.
OCT Mon 10-16, Wed-Sun 9-17, Tours Mon 10-13:30 every 30 min, Wed-Fri 9-15 every 30 minutes.
NOV to DEC Mon 10-16, Wed-Sun 8-16, Tours Mon 10-13:30 every 30 min, Wed-Fri 9-14 every 30 minutes, Sat, Sun 9, 10, 11:30, 12:30, 14.
Closed 01-JAN, 06-JAN, Easter, 01-NOV, 11-NOV, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 26-DEC.
[2022]
Fee: Adults PLN 30, Children () PLN 20, Students PLN 20, Seniors PLN 20.
[2022]
Classification: MineStone Age Flint Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=2 h, L=1.5 km.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: F. Pazdurm , R. Awsiuk, D. J. Michczynska, A. Pazdur (1992): Chronologia radioweglowa wyrobisk kopalni krzemienia pasiastego w Krzemionkach, woj. kieleckie, [w:] Jaskanis J., Ed., Studia nad gospodarka surowcami krzemiennymi w pradziejach, PMA, Warszawa, p. 137-150. Polish - Polski
Address: Prahistoryczne Kopalnie Krzemienia w Krzemionkach, Sudół 135 a, 27-400 Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Tel: 41 260 55 51 61. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1922 discovered by the geologist J. Samsonowicz.
1950s begin of tourist visits.
1985 tourist route No. 1 opened to the public.
~1990 tourist route no. 2 at chamber mine no. 7/610 opened to the public.
1991 reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement completed.
27-JUN-1995 nature reserve "Krzemionki Opatowskie" established by order of the Minister of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry.
2001-2004 tunnels connecting the tourist routed built.
2019 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Geology

The limestone was deposited during the late Jurassic (155 Ma), in a shallow warm sea which was part of the Thetys. The flint formation is actually based on biological processes. The soft mud on the sea floor was inhabited by crustaceans, crabs and shrimps, which dug extensive networks of caves and passages for living. They stored plants inside, which were decaying, in other words colonies of bacteria lived in them, which in turn were the food for the larvae of the crustaceans. But they also changed the pH of the water in the tunnels, just by feeding and releasing byproducts into the water.

The groundwater percolating through the only partly solidified sediment was seawater from above, which contains dissolved quartz (SiO2) in low amounts. The solution and precipitation of quartz depends strongly on the pH of the water. Inside the acidic environment of the tunnels, quartz was precipitated. So the water deposited the quartz in the form of a gel which gradually filled the tunnels. Most likely the time when the crustaceans decided to dig new tunnels somewhere else. And as long as there was a different pH in the area. the process continued, even after the tunnels were filled completely with quartz. The results are layers of intricate and a fantastic shapes, often forming layers of some extent, which probably represent the extension of the original tunnels.

The limestone rock is a rather soft and very white limestone which is often called chalk. Some qualities were actually used to cut blackboard chalk. But the rather soft limestone made digging much easier than hard limestone would have. And it was nevertheless very stable, there was not much danger of a collapse.

Description

Prahistoryczne Kopalnie Krzemienia w Krzemionkach (Archaeological Museum and Reserve „Krzemionki”) or short Krzemionki is a neolithic flint mine, located in eastern Poland, not far from the border to the Ukraine. The mine tunnels which were dug 5000 years ago in the hunt for best quality flint are perfectly preserved. The quality here was so high, it was mostly used to produce smoothed axe blades.

The area of Poland was covered by the glaciers from Scandinavia until about 10,000 to 8,000 years BP. The melting water left huge river systems, lakes and swamps. The vegetation started with the rise of the temperature and the former steppe became birch forest. Animals and humans migrated into the area and lived there. 8,000 years BP Poland was populated by tribes coming in from beyond the Carpathian Mountains. They were not hunter and gatherers, they were early farmers. Land was deforested by burning the trees to be used for cultivation. They domesticated various animals.

This was also the time of advanced techniques in flint processing. Polished battle-axes were made from different types of stone and pierced to mount on handles. Knives, points, sickles and other smaller tools were produced, but also blades longer than 20 cm. The resources were found in the rivers and at the shores of the Baltic Sea. The flint, which was in the chalk, remained when the chalk was weathered and eroded. Unfortunately it got cracks in this process, especially due to freezing in winter. They soon discovered that flint they found underground hab better quality, and soon the flint was mined. First in pits, then in shafts, and finally in tnnel protruding from the bottom of the shaft.

The flint rich chalk covers much of Europe, from the cliffs of Dover to Poland, and there are flint mines all over. Rather big and well-preserved are those at Krzemionki and Świeciechów. At Krzemionki the findings included a community which supported the mining. It tells about long distance trade and the use of carts, and the domestication of horses.

The site is visited on two hours guided tours, which include an underground tour into the prehistoric mine tunnels. Two of the flint mines were opened to the public in the 1980s, both were entered through an exhibition with photographs, models, and specimens above the mine shaft. Then the mines are entered via spiral staircases in modern shafts, mine one on concrete stairs, mine two on metal stairs suspended in the shaft. For 20 years there were actually two separate tours, but in 2004 the tunnel connecting the two parts was completed and now there is only a single tour, one entrance is used as entrance, the other as exit. A circular passage with windows into the well lit mine galleries allow the visit without really entering the prehistoric parts. This is quite exceptional, other flint mines can not offer underground tours due to problems with the stability or to protect the mines. But the tunnels here are very stable even after 5000 years. However, most of the tour is above the ground walking through the forest to various excavation sites and reconstructed buildings. The site is also a place of experimental archaeology, and numerous structures which were excavated have been reconstructed, forming more or less a reconstructed Neolithic village. There is also a modern museum at the entrance, with a display of geological items and an exhibition about the Neolithic.

The reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement consists of 4 residential houses built on the basis of documentation from archaeological research in Dobroń, Siciny and Brzezie. They are surrounded by a palisade and a defensive ditch, like some known Neolithic settlements (eg Stryczowice, Bronocice, Złota). On the west side there is a reconstruction of the megalithic tomb from Broniszowice. This sector is called the cemetery, and is supposed to present the beliefs and funeral rites of the people living in Poland 5500-4000 years ago. During summer a potter's workshop and other archaeological workshops take place.