Muzeum i Rezerwat Archeologiczno - Przyrodniczy Krzemionki (PL)

The Świętokrzyskie (or Holy Cross) Mountains have been famous for their flint mines of chocolate flint and banded flint since Neolithic times. It was in the 1920s, scientists realised that Krzemionki was the origin with many prehistoric mines still preserved, one of the largest complexes of its kind in Europe.

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The mines were exploited ca. 3900 to 1600 BC., it means during the Neolithic era (maybe even Mesolithic) well into the Bronze Age. The mining area is about 785,000 square metres large with over 5,000 mining units, 5 to 30 metres apart. Extraction sites were different, depending on the geology. Some were shallow cavities (2 metres deep and 4-5 metres wide), others were niche mines (ca. 4,5 m deep) and chamber- pillar mines to 8 - 9 m deep chamber mines covering the area of ca. 400 square metres. A Neolithic mine crew consisted of 5 to 10 people.

Images representing deities, made in charcoal on rock faces and pillars, were found in the mine. They include a woman in labour, a bull’s head or horns, a pair of feet. Probably they symbolize the Great Goddess and her partner, the God of Storm, whose weapon was a lightning represented by a hatched and axe.

Shortly after the discovery of this exceptional phenomenon, the area was officially turned into an archaeological reservation and by now, goes by the name “Archaeological monument & reserve at Krzemionki”. It is a branch of the Historical and Archaeological Museum at nearby Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski.

Visitors can see a display of Neolithic flint mining and witness demonstrations of how the flint was extracted. An underground exhibition gallery of about 500 metres long, passing through Neolithic mining units was opened for tourists 1 July 2004. Last but not least, since 1991, the site also houses a reconstruction of a prehistoric settlement. The village of about 1.5 hectares contains about 7 constructions, 4 of which living quarters of which 3 are going back to the excavations at nearby Dobroń & Siciny. The prehistoric village also has a palisade and a defendable entrance gate as well as workshops. It is attempted to represent the different Neolithic and Bronze Age culture groups which used the mines consequently. The outside area shows how the miners and their families lived, next to the quarry sites. Activities for children as well as (young) adults are presented.

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