Bezławki Bioarchaeology

Medieval Bioarchaeology in Poland

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Narratives

We are thrilled to have so many talented students accompany us into the field. We will be compiling narratives of some of our former students and staff here so that they can share their experiences.

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Alyssa (2014 & 2015 Seasons)

bezlawki field school; bezlawki bioarchaeology; Poland; excavation

If I were to pick one word to describe my experience in Poland, it would be unforgettable. The first year I participated in the Bezławki field school was during my fourth year of college. My proposed field of study was mortuary archaeology, and I thought it would be useful to participate and obtain field experience at an archaeological site geographically different from my own regional area of study. I found this approach essential, especially since I wanted to further my education at a graduate level and experience new places. And plus, I am always up for new adventures! Poland is everything you would expect it to be; there’s friendly people, delicious fare, beautiful scenery, and castles. Yes, castles! And if that doesn’t get you excited, then I don’t know what will!

The Bezławki archaeological site is quite fascinating, and like all archaeology, you never know what to expect! The site is located in the beautiful countryside of northeastern Poland, and this area provides an excellent opportunity to interact with its history, in addition to the Polish people and culture. In front of the site, you will be marveled by the grassy hill with a castle-now-converted-church overlooking the landscape. The two summers that I had participated in the Bezławki field school, we received many visitors at the site, including several from outside of Poland. It was interesting to see people interested in our work and the remains we were uncovering.

In the field, every student participant became involved in all aspects of the archaeological process, which includes cleaning, taking photographs, mapping, and excavating a burial. Archaeology is difficult work; however, this field school provided an opportunity for us to strengthen our excavation skills, and also determine if we find enjoyment in this type of work.

In addition to the field work, we had the ability to examine the skeletal remains we recovered. Some students preferred laboratory work over the field, and this field school was exceptional for being flexible with students’ needs and interests.

On the off-days there were opportunities to travel to different historical sites, such as Wolf’s Lair (Hitler’s Bunker) and several Medieval castles and churches. We had the ability go swimming in lakes and purchase ice cream in several of the local towns (ice cream is a Polish favorite!). We also received traditional Polish fare every day at our housing, and there were several occasions where we visited restaurants. The pierogis are always a field school favorite and amazing (as you would expect). And if you love bread, you will love Poland.

I consider the best part about my Polish experience are the people that I have met. This field school provided a chance to connect and become friends with students with various diverse backgrounds. Archaeology field schools are designed to allow students to receive experience, strengthen their skills, and make connections with other field participants and staff. You also want to have fun and enjoy your experience in a new country, and if you are having fun, you are definitely in the right field.