Tanais – antique town

Person conducting excavation: Marcin Matera, PhD
Country: Russia, Tanais (Myasnikovski district, Rostov Oblast)
Site name: Tanais
Type of the site: Antique town
Involved institutions: Museum-Reserve “Tanais”, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, University of Warsaw
Description of the research:
Excavations conducted at Tanais by the University of Warsaw began in 1995 and have continued ever since . Since 1999, the Polish mission has explored Trench XXV situated at the western border of Western Tanais. Up until now, circa 1300 square metres have been investigated, which resulted in unearthing Hellenistic architectural remains: a bridge made of wood and stone leading across a defensive ditch protecting the town, a fortification complex consisting of a ditch dug from the side facing the steppe, a stone defensive wall, as well as a carefully fortified gateway to the town . Residential housing was confined inside the town walls (the rooms: ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, and ‘F’) along with an urban street grid (‘a’ and ‘b’).

Currently, research is conducted within the framework of the project “Hellenistic Buildings in Tanais – fortifications and adjacent intramural district. Further research” funded by National Science Center, Poland (2016/21/B/HS3/03423).

Castillo de Huarmey. The Wari Empire Centre on the North Coast of Peru.

Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz
Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz

Person conducting excavation: Miłosz Giersz, PhD
Country: Peru
Site name: Huramey
Type of the site: settlement, palace, temple, cemetery. Wari Empire (600 – 1050 n.e.).
Involved institutions: IAUW, PUCP, NGS, APPEA

Description of the research:
Twelve centuries ago, in a Peruvian desert on the Pacific coast, on the outskirts of the first empire of pre-Columbian Andes, called Wari by archaeologists, a new centre of power was established, with Castillo de Huarmey as its capital. Centuries before the Inca rose to power, the rulers of the Wari Empire developed a unique culture that created rare works of art and architecture. Castillo de Huarmey became one of the richest necropolis of the Wari Empire elites.

phot. Miłosz Giersz
phot. Miłosz Giersz

The Huarmey Valley, located in the Ancash region about 300 km north of the capital of Peru, Lima, is one of the many river valleys on the desert Pacific coast. In that peaceful oasis, over a millennium ago, the Wari people established a new centre of power. Castillo de Huarmey, located 1 km (0.6 mi) east from the present-day capital of the Huarmey province, covers an area of 45 ha. It is dominated by a monumental palace and the royal necropolis built above it, on the summit of a natural rock hill. Plundered and damaged over decades, only in 2010 were the ruins of the capital of a Wari Empire province finally, and extensively, studied, when a team led by Miłosz Giersz and Patrycja Prządka-Giersz, both from the University of Warsaw, with Krzysztof Makowski and Roberto Pimentel Nita from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Lima), carried out the first archaeological excavations. There, after years of work, a Polish-Peruvian team of archaeologists directed by dr. Milosz Giersz from the University of Warsaw, Poland, unearthed the first undisturbed royal tomb of pre-Columbian Wari civilization that consisted of remains of 58 noblewomen, 6 human sacrifices, two mutilated guardians and over 1300 artefacts made of gold, silver, bronze, decorated pottery as well as rare wood, bone, and shell and stone materials. This discovery was considered by National Geographic Society and ARCHAEOLOGY. A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America as one of the most important archaeological findings worldwide. Those archaeological excavations brought as many unique data as new research questions that archaeologists are trying to answer by continuing multidisciplinary research at this unique pre-Columbian site.

Project financing:
The 2010 field season of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project was supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (2970/B/H03/2009/37) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland (579/N-PERU/2009/0). The 2012-2018 field seasons of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project were supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (NCN 2011/03/D/HS3/01609 and NCN 2014/14/M/HS3/00865), the National Geographic Society (EC0637-13, GEFNE85-13, GEFNE116-14 and W335-14) and financial support from Compañia Minera Antamina S.A. Many Project’s initiatives were also supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (grant KWERENDA 2011/195), the National Science Center (grants NCN 2015/18 / E / HS3 / 00106 and NCN 2015/19 / N / HS3 / 00880) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Diamond Grant 2013012043), as well as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, Polish-Peruvian Society for Andean Studies, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Peru and the local government of Huarmey.

Qumayrah 2 – neolithic settlement

Person conducting excavation: Marcin Białowarczuk PhD
Country: Sultanate of Oman
Site name: Qumayrah site 2
Type of the site: Settlement
Involved institutions:
Institute od Archaeology University of Warsaw Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw Ministry of Heritage and Culture, sultanate of Oman
Description of the research:
Traces of occupation of the Neolithic pastoralists groups, sesonally settled of highland and mountainous areas of northern Oman.
Omani-Polish Qumayrah Archaeological Project – PCMA University of Warsaw

Failaka Island – waterfront archaeology

Person conducting excavation:
Prof. Piotr Bieliński, Agnieszka Pieńkowska PhD, Magdalena Nowakowska MA
Country: Kuwait
Site name: Failaka Island
Involved institutions:
Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and National Council of Culture, Arts and Letter, State of Kuwait
Type of the site: Waterfront archaeology of Failaka Island
Description of the research:
The Polish – Kuwaiti project: “Waterfront and Underwater Archaeology of Kuwait. Archeorisk on the Coastal Zone around Failaka Island, Kuwait” is the first archaeological research project concerning underwater cultural heritage of Kuwait and Failaka Island. The aim of the project is to detect and describe remaining archaeological sites at the tidal area, as well as to provide documentary evidence and finally organise the proper preservation. During previous seasons many littoral constructions were reported. The result was stunning: 33 stone structures located, and most of them interpreted as fish traps – stone tidal weirs and remains of three harbours with breakwaters were also discovered.
“Waterfront and Underwater Archaeology of Kuwait. Archeorisk on the Coastal Zone around Failaka Island, Kuwait”

Shestovytsia – barrow early medieval cemetery

Person conducting excavation: Dariusz Błaszczyk PhD, dr Viacheslav PhD Skorokhod
Country: Ukraine
Site name: Shestovytsia
Type of the site: barrow early medieval cemetery
Involved institutions:
Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw; Centre of Archaeology and Ancient History, Taras Shevchenko Teachers’ Training University, Chernihiv
Description of the research:
Description of the research: Research is carried out at the barrow cemetery, which is part of the settlement complex from the early Middle Ages consisting of a stronghold and an adjacent settlement. The aim of the research is to investigate using modern methods (drone photos, 3D documentation, physicochemical analyses) of a selected part of the cemetery, determine its exact chronology, reconstruct the funeral rite and identify the socio-cultural affiliation of the people buried there
‘Shestovytsia – the barrow cemetery from the Viking Age period’. Research financed by the Institute of Archaeology University of Warsaw and Centre of Archaeology and Ancient History, Taras Shevchenko Teachers’ Training University, Chernihiv

Novae – legionary fortress and late Roman town

Principal investigator: dr hab. Agnieszka Tomas
Name of the site:
Partner institutions:
Faculty of Archaeology University of Warsaw and the National Institute of Archaeology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with the Museum
Type of the site:
Roman legionary camp (castra legionis), civil settlement (canabae legionis) and late Roman town.

Chronology: 1st-6th century AD

The legionary fortress in Novae today is an archaeological site in northern Bulgaria, on the Danube, near the town of Svishtov. It was probably founded around the middle of the 1st century AD. The 1st Italian legion was based here for most of its existence and its presence is confirmed until the 30s of the 5th century AD. In the area of ​​the camp, which covers 17.99 ha, monumental buildings have been discovered, the most important of which is the headquarters building (principia), although the legionary hospital (valetudinarium) and baths (thermae legionis) are equally impressive. There was a civil settlement (canabae) on the west side of the camp, and a necropolis on the south and east side. In the late antiquity, the fortifications of Novae were reinforced, and an additional area (the so-called annex) was attached to the camp from the east, covering an area of ​​almost 9 ha. At that time, both soldiers and civilians lived within the walls. Traces of the latest Roman activity date back to the end of the 6th century.

Novae - phot. M. Pisz
Novae – phot. M. Pisz

Description of the present research:

In 2021, we started research in the central part of the site, directly behind the fortress’ headquarters (principia). In this place, in 2005, the remains of a massive building with a regular layout were documented, as well as the reused base of the statue of the legionary legate during the reign of Gordian III. The aim of the research is to determine the nature of the buildings in this part of the camp and to determine the function of the aforementioned building, which may have been the seat of the legion commander (praetorium).

Thanks to the discoveries in 2021-22, we learned that the buildings in this place had a residential character until the late Roman period.

See the documentary about our field works: FILM

The previous project, including research in the late antique Novae district (the so-called annex) and the necropolis, was completed in 2021.

Project completed/financial support:
Extramural settlement near the Roman legionary fortress at Novae (Lower Moesia) and its fate in Late Antiquity, National Science Centre, OPUS 10, NCN, OPUS 10, no. 2015/19B/HS3/017/90


  • A. Tomas, E. Jaskulska, J. Dworniak-Jarych, E Jęczmienowski, T. Dziurdzik, A. Mech, The eastern necropolis at Novae, Archaeologia Bulgarica 24/3, 2020, 37–63
  • The transformation of Novae. Eastern necropolis and the late Roman extension [in:] Transformations in Antiquity, A. Tomas (ed.), BREPOLS, RomA Series (in preparation)

Other projects realized in Novae by the Expedition of the Faculty of Archaeology UW:

Novae 2017-2021. In medio castrorum. Sculptural and epigraphic landscape of the central part of the legionary fortress at Novae

Novae 2012-2015. Research on settlement structures near the Roman legionary camp at Novae (Lower Moesia) using non-destructive prospection methods (A. Tomas, completed)

Novae 2009-2011. The headquarters building and the fortifications (T. Sarnowski, completed)

Akrai, Sicily

Archaeological site Akrai (Latin Acrae) is localised to the west of the modern town of Palazzolo Acreide, in south-eastern region of Sicily. The site was an excellent lookout point over the entire surrounding region. Such a strategic location suggests that the town played an important role, both political and commercial, and guarded the access to Syracuse to which it was subordinated.
According to Thucydides the town was founded by Syracuse around 663/664 BC. After the Roman conquest, it became a civitas stipendiaria, and was still prospering till the end of the Antiquity.

The results of all of fieldworks was the discovery of a theatre and bouleuterion, open towards the remains of an agora and thesmophorion. At the highest situated area of the city a discovery was made of a Doric peripteral temple, dedicated, most probably, to Aphrodite, built during the 6th century BC and in use for an unknown period.
Worthy of special interest are quarries, known as Intagliata and Intagliatella, source of stone for construction, which during the late antique period were used for a necropolis.

Since 2009 the University of Warsaw, in cooperation with Polo Regionale di Siracusa per i siti e i musei archeologici in Syracuse, began first step of research in Palazzolo Acreide. Non invasive investigations: geodetic measurements, geophysics, aerial photography were the first stage of studies. During the survey in the vicinity of town, using the GPS, on the satellite map have been marked a discovered new archaeological sites.

Since  2011 till now the regular archaeological excavations are carried out. Archaeologists discovered the remains of Greco-Roman houses and Late Antique area with domestic craft activities.

Currently, international team of archaeologists is elaborating the findings that include: coins, different types of pottery, glass, metal and stone objects. Multidisciplinary researches engage archaeometric, lipid, petrographic, and isotopic analyses. All the results are published regularly in international journals and in the form of monographs.

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