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Świeciechów Flint

Material name: Świeciechów-Flint
Synonyms: Grey white spotted flint
Material (geologic): Cretaceous (Turonian) flint

Grey white spotted flint from Świeciechów
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 1999

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General characteristics

(In part adapted from Balcer 1980a and Balcer 1980b)

Material: Actually, there are two types of flint in Świeciechów, but only one variety is meant in the literature when Świeciechów flint is mentioned. This is the famous grey white spotted flint, although the basic colour of the material we were able to collect at the surface is better described as brownish (see below). Its texture is medium-grained with blurred spots that can be chalky in appearance. Freshly broken surfaces are mostly dull to slightly silky. Due to weathering most pieces collected on the surface posess a silky to waxy lustre. When present, the cortex is thick and soft, just like the rock it is embedded in. Judging from the material we saw, the statement that this type of flint occurs in very large nodules of 25 cm and more seems very likely.
The second type on this site is much finer, has a greasy lustre even when freshly knapped and a bit firmer cortex. Due to the much smaller size of the nodules and internal fracturation it has apparently been ignored during prehistory.
Color: We found two different colours of white spotted flint. The most frequent one on the surface is dark greyish brown (about 10YR 3.5/1-2 according to the Munsell charts), the other a bit darker with less chroma (ca. 2.5Y 3-4/1). Both colours can appear within the same nodule. As you can see from the picture, this has nothing to do with differential weathering, but is caused by some unknown process during the formation of the nodules.
The other, inferior material is deep black and could be mistaken easily for flint from Denmark or Rügen.
Other information: Świeciechów is as near as you can come to pinpointing a source of flint. There is hardly any possibility to confuse it with any other type of flint due to its very characteristic spotted appearance. The only outcrop is well known and not larger than ca. 2 km². Apart from that it is one of the materials that do occur in archaeological contexts hundreds of kilometres from its source. So, if you are working in Central Europe, keep your eyes open, there is a good chance you may find a piece in your neck of the woods.
Knapping notes: Due to its texture and very even structure throughout the nodules, Świeciechów grey white spotted flint is an excellent material for knapping. It does not splitter, even when hard hammers are used with a lot of force, but it is also well knappable with soft(er) materials. Flakes are straight and do not show a pronounced bulbus. All in all very well suitable for producing (very) large, straight blades and flakes, as well as axes.
Archaeological description: Although, like outlined above, Świeciechów is a perfectly sourcable flint, with a wide distribution during prehistory, amazingly little literature about its use is accessible. Its oldest known use dates to the Middle Paleolithic, but the most intensive exploitation was probably in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. A good example of the widespread use comes from the famous Early Neolithic site of Bylany in the Czech Republic (Popelka 1987a), some 475 kilometres from Świeciechów, where in the earliest phase (albeit in an extremely low percentage) this type of flint is present.

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Locality: Świeciechów-Lasek, Tarnobrzeg District, Poland
Synonyms: Mining site PL 12, according to the catalogue of the museum in Bochum (Weisgerber et al. (eds.) 1980).
Geographic description: Świeciechów-Lasek is a hamlet on the right bank of the Vistula (Wisła) in Central Poland, ca. 60 kilometres southeast of Lublin. The site itself lies on a gentle slope, directly east of road number 825 from Annopol to Józefów.
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 50 55' 17" N
Long. 021 50' 51" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)
Co-ordinate precision: Take or give an arc-second, but as this is open country, very easily accessible and the site well over a square kilometer in extent, it should be no problem.
Other topographical information: To reach Świeciechów from Lublin, take the main road to Kielce (first the 19, from Kraśnik onwards the 74) until you come close to Annopol. Just before you enter the village you take a right into the 824 towards the north. After a few kilometres you come to a cemetery at the right hand side of the road (just visible in the background in the picture below), here you park the car and look on the nearby fields for your personal sample. From the Southeast (for example if you come from Sandomierz or Kielce), you cross the Vistula on the 74 and turn into the 824 just after leaving Annopol. Do not be distracted by the nice white cliffs to the south of the bridge; nice outcrop but no flint to speak of.
Additional information: Field at Świeciechów-Lasek with mining debris
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 1999
  The sketch in Weisgerber et al. (eds.) 1980, page 608, is very handy if you visit this site, but even without it you can hardly miss it. In the picture above you are looking towards road number 824, which lies just beyond the large trees on the left side of the picture. The low wall on the right belongs to the cemetery. The picture was taken from the track leading uphill, directly into the main concentration of material.
Visitors information: We stayed in Sandomierz during our visit, but if you don't mind the distance and like larger towns, Lublin is probably a better choice. In the direct surrounding of the site we didn't notice any regular place to stay and/or to eat.
Sampling information: All material we collected comes from the field in the picture above. No primary outcrop with the material still embedded in the parent rock is accessible at the moment. The very promising looking cliffs at the banks of the Vistula south of Annopol didn't yield any flint worth mentioning.
For a full-blown picture of the sample of Świeciechów flint, click here (68 KBytes). Example of white spotted flint from Świeciechów
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 1999
Spotted and black flint from Świeciechów
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 1999
For a full-blown picture of both types from Świeciechów, click here (45 KBytes).
Sample description: See general notes in the introduction.

Last modified January 27, 2006 Please send your comments to our