A well-preserved old wooden road discovered under the old Polish town


Jaroslaw, a town in south-eastern Poland, developed as an important trading center in the 16th and 17th centuries and now an amazing old wooden road (one of the longest in Poland) has been discovered in the center -city. Jaroslaw trade routes were established with Silesia, Gdansk, and Hungary, and goods came from as far away as Spain, England, Finland, Armenia, and Persia. Jaroslaw is rich in ancient culture and history. The old Polish wooden road was discovered during a project to build a public wastewater treatment plant in the heart of the old town.

The unique and well-preserved Polish timber road section was 30 meters (98.4 feet) in length and almost 3 meters (9.84 feet) in width. The section connected with the historic main gate of the city of Jaroslaw, and from there the road connected the city with the important cities of Krakow and Rzeszow.

Archaeologist Katarzyna Oleszek said Sciences in Poland , “So far we have managed to unveil a wooden road with a length of 30 meters. However, we do know that it was certainly several dozen more meters longer, as we encountered several other fragments. ”

The section of the wooden road in the central historic district of Jaroslaw, Poland during excavations (K. Oleszek / Nakau W Polsce )

One of the longest remains of wooden roads in Poland: the evidence

The discovery is dated 18 e century and represents one of the greatest discoveries of wooden roads in Poland, according to Ms. Oleszek. Its width suggests that it was a one-way car system for those driving through town, as two cars certainly couldn’t pass each other at the same time. Parts of the road have been removed for preservation, which has led to the discovery of remains of a 14th century hardened dirt road!

The newly discovered Polish timber road itself consisted of a load-bearing structure with “three timber joists arranged transversely to the beams which were connected by stakes”, according to Heritage Daily . Interestingly, laser scanning technology has been used to increase the accuracy of measurements. “Through the use of this technology, we have documented this monument with an accuracy of one millimeter,” added Ms. Oleszek.

She continued: “There are no hoof marks in the road or the grooves of the wagons running along it, which means that the wood used in its construction – probably oak – was very durable. In addition, as research shows, traces of repairs are visible in several places, which proves that there has been regular road works.

Jaroslaw’s importance as a center of the trade route meant that it hosted annual fairs, some of which were the largest in Europe in the 17th century. These were followed by populations of nearly 30,000 people, who were involved in the trade of products such as wine, leather and cloth.

The road was built with a 100-year timeline in mind, according to Oleszek. From now on, parts of the road have been excavated and preserved for conservation. The wooden road section will soon be on display to the public in the central part of Jaroslaw.

Coins, fragments of shoe soles and nails were found in the space between the wooden road and the harder 14th-century asphalt road, which will be on display in the town museum.

A historical sketch of Jaroslaw, showing where the wooden roads exited the city gates in two places.  (Mcdrwal / CC BY 3.0)

A historical sketch of Jaroslaw, showing where the wooden roads exited the city gates in two places. (Mcdrwal / CC BY 3.0 )

European wooden roads: strong enough but not forever

In Europe, the practice of building wooden roads has been common since ancient times. Initially, they were built to facilitate foot traffic for those crossing impossible terrain, such as swamps, wetlands, and bogs.

Later, wooden roads were built to accommodate animal-drawn cars and wagons. There was a sense of interconnection between many of these wooden roads, allowing passage from the countryside to the towns, resulting in a whole network of people on the move for commerce and daily life.

Over time, the disuse and decay as well as the unpredictable nature of the peatlands caused these wooden roads to be abandoned and swallowed up by nature. Incidentally, they have been preserved by the unique chemical makeup of peatlands and have become important architectural artefacts.

The southern Baltic region, as well as northern Europe, England and Ireland are famous for these wooden roads, but they are also scattered throughout most of the major European countries, including Spain, France. , Germany and Italy.

Timber roads required a high level of know-how and skill, especially since there were no plans for such projects in the past. The lack of “high tech” also meant that it was entirely manual work. But the work had to be precise as some terrains were very unstable. Since transportation methods were not well developed hundreds of years ago, it was an extremely difficult and arduous task to transport logs of wood to places where there was no road network. .

Top image: A close-up of the section of the wooden road unearthed in the heart of Jaroslaw, Poland during excavations. Source: K. Oleszek / Nakau W Polsce

By Rudra Bhushan


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