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2009 | 54 | 1 | 67-92

Article title

THE HISTORY OF THE MEDIEVAL OPEN SETTLEMENT OF STARE MIASTO (CIVITAS ANTIQUA) AT KALISZ (GREATER POLAND) TRACKED BY ISOTOPE DATING METHODOLOGY (Dzieje wczesnosredniowiecznej osady na Starym Miescie (Civitas Antiqua) w Kaliszu (Wielkopolska) w swietle

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A comprehensive survey of the literature data and the critical re-examination of the excavation documentation dealing with the past archaelogical investigations provided further evidence that the foundation of the Middle Age Kalisz was mainly triggered by the economic, social and political impulses sparkling out from Zawodzie (Polish for 'behind the water') and Stare Miasto (Polish for 'Old Town'), two among the numerous Early Medieval settlements located in the area. Based on isotope dating as a tool for overcoming some uncertainties encountered by the archaeological analysis, this paper is addressed to discuss the actual temporal relationships between the occupation models recognized at Stare Miasto since the Early and Late Middle Age up to the times of the urbanization of Kalisz. In turn, the Zawodzie settlement, strictly interconnected to Stare Miasto and sharing an analogous concern for understanding the cultural evolution of the ancient settlers has been previously studied and the results were reported elsewhere. Among the several trenches opened at Stare Miasto those referred to as X and XII have been selected due to the abundant findings and the relatively undisturbed stratification displayed on the walls. The trenches, dug at the top of a partially eroded relief on the reach occupied by the burial ground of the settlement, revealed a rather complex stratigraphy. Therefore, as an attempt for overcoming the difficulty of interpretation and to establish at the best the chronostratigraphical sequence some organic materials were collected for radiocarbon dating. The five 14C samples (one from charcoal and two from human bones and wood fragments, respectively) bracketed two fairly distinct chronological intervals, 1165-1280 and 780-960 cal. A.D., respectively. Two out of the three youngest ages were yielded by well preserved bone samples which, because of such features, have been reasonably referred to the last burials prior to the erosion of the reach of the relief on which the cemetery was located. The third coeval sample, a wood fragment from the same trench, could be analogously assigned to a structure implemented shortly before the burial ground dismantling by erosion. On these bases it has been argued that a dry/warm climatic phase involving fluvial erosion could have affect the area during the second half of the 12th and most of the 13th c., just prior to the beginning of the world-wide climate deterioration of the Little Ice Age. Finally, the ages of a wood and a charcoal specimens originated from distinct stratigraphic units of trench X resulted exactly coincident and calibrated at 780-960 cal. A.D. These samples are of some concern in that they fit into the time-span previously assigned to the first development phase of the fortified Zawodzie settlement and therefore provide us with sound evidence about the co-existence, on a close but distinct relief, of the Stare Miasto open settlement since Early Middle Age. As a result, by coupling the archaeological evidence with isotope data conclusion is drawn that the stepwise transition from the pristine, unruly Stare Miasto open settlement towards a proto-urban organization to coordinate and carry out economic activities lasted some four centuries. Figs 3.








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  • Tadeusz Baranowski, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland


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