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Thursday 14 November 2019

Big drought reveals tons of looted treasure

Matthew Day in Warsaw

TREASURE taken by looting Swedes that sank in the River Vistula in Poland 350 years ago has re-emerged thanks to a drought that has caused water levels to drop to their lowest in centuries.

About 10 tons of treasure, comprising ornate stonework and rare marble carvings taken from palaces, houses and even cemeteries, has been unearthed from the river in Warsaw.

Archaeologists believe there is more to be discovered.

"I am cautious about assessing their historical value but these articles are very well preserved," said Jaroslaw Zielinski, an archaeologist. "Although they've been lying under water for hundreds of years a layer of silt may have protected them."

The 1655 Swedish invasion of Poland involved a major looting campaign. Stolen treasure was then shipped in barges along the Vistula to Gdansk for transport to Sweden.

A Swedish letter refers to one barge, containing between 50 and 60 tons of treasure, sinking near Warsaw, probably from overloading.

Given the size and number of the pieces found on the river bed, experts believe that the Swedes intended to reassemble the stonework once they returned home.

Although the drought revealed the lost treasure, the lack of water has also made retrieving the larger items difficult. Mr Zielinski said water levels would need to rise again so they can bring in a floating crane to remove them.

A police guard is in place after reports that treasure hunters were planning to cash in on the discovery.(©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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