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Two thousand years ago, over the area of 800 km2, particularly to the north-east of Łysogóry - the largest mountain range in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, its ancient inhabitants referred to as the Lugii by Roman historians used to mine and smelt localore. The ore was extracted by either surface or underground methods e.g. digging tunnels and shafts, traces of which were found in Rudki near Nowa Słupia. Joint research on ancient bloomery in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains began in 1955. The slag blocks left by the ancient smelters became the first objects to attract the scientists attention. Thanks to archaeological research, numerous remains of the ancient slag-pit furnace clusters which grouped the traces of working processes - from several to several hundred of slag-pit furnaces, have been excavated and recorded. Metallurgical research and experimental enabled to reconstruct the ancient process of iron production.
Fifty years ago theof Ancient Metallurgy in Nowa Słupia was established, and since 1967 the research results have been presented during an open-air archaeological festival called Dymarki Świętokrzyskie. The main attraction of the is the of iron smelting process performed at a so-called Piecowisko ( term piecowisko means a slag-pit furnace cluster) - a space intentionally separated for conducting experimental demonstrations at the foot of Łysa Góra. An ancient slag-pit furnace consisted of the bottom part, so-called slag-pit - an oval hollow in the ground with a diameter of approximately 50 cm. The overground part comprised a shaft made of loess blocks (bricks) with a mix of shortly-cut straw. In the lower part of the shaft there were tuyeres which supplied air into the furnace. For the iron smelting, three main elements were necessary: iron ore, and air. As experimental research proves, in a bloomery furnace shaft primary reduction process, which resulted in producing iron sponge, occurred in the area of tuyeres. The slag as a by-product of smelting ore would flow into the slag-pit. The process of smelting might have taken between ten and twenty hours; after that a bloomery furnace shaft used to be dismantled and iron sponge was finally removed. Pieces of iron suitable for manufacturing tools or were produced through multiple smelting and forging of the iron sponge.
For ten years, Archaeological Festival Dymarki Świętokrzyskie has been held in August so that tourists visiting the Świętokrzyski region could be acquainted with ancient iron metallurgy. The character of the event has been recently changed as a result of the programme “Man and Iron in the first centuries of our era” which tends to demonstrate the process of iron smelting with the particular emphasis on historical accuracy of the Roman period. Archaeological presentations of the ancient bloomery combined with craftwork demonstrations of that period and proved by archaeological evidence have been set in precisely prepared scenery including reconstructed tools, ornaments, clothing and weapon dated back to the beginning of the Common Era.
The specialists in reconstruction of ancient iron smithing, goldsmithing,work, pottery, antlers processing, , braiding and birch making, who are currently contributing to reconstruction of and everyday life during the Roman period, have been invited to Piecowisko. This lesson is supplemented with presentation of the colours and weapons of Roman legionaries which emphasized the differences between barbaric world and the territory of Roman provinces. The programme of presentation is annually enriched with new elements concerning various aspects of Celtic and Germanic tribes everyday life, as well as their relations with the Roman Empire. For several years the festival has gained international recognition thanks to the participation of bloomers from Denmark, gladiators from the Czech Republic and craftsmen form Belarus. The above mentioned presenters as well as other guests from Germany (from Comitatus gathering) and Italy (Vocis Imago Romae group) have been invited to take part in this year's edition of the event.
In the hope of cooperation, we have also invited representatives of the Museum of Ancient Mazovian Metallurgy in Pruszków and from Archaeological Museum in Wrocław. This way we would like to initiate safeguarding of significant traditions of ancient iron metallurgy in the Świętokrzyski region setting in the broad cultural aspects which enable spectators to move back into the past. Although the demonstrations will take place in Nowa Słupia, they will refer not only to the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and territory of Poland. A few years ago the authorities of Nowa Słupia took the initiative to establish The Świętokrzyskie Centre ofas a solid base for research and presentations associated with the ancient centre of iron metallurgy. These activities, partially financed by European Union funds, enabled to organize Dymarki Świętokrzyskie of 2011 in significantly different surrounding. This year's festival is the continuation of the new look at the regional heritage of European importance. You are cordially invited to discover what is old now, but once used to be new at Dymarki Świętokrzyskie on 18-19 August 2012.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.