Conversation with: dr. Marcin Szydlowski
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Conversation with: dr. Marcin Szydlowski

Dr Marcin Szydłowski Born in March 15, 1979 in Poland. In the years 1998-2003 he studied archeology at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań. He completed his studies with his master’s thesis in 2003, entitled “Topogenesis of the Kosciańska Group of the Unietycka Culture” (under supervision of Prof. Aleksander Kośko). In the period from October 2003 to June 2004, an intern at the Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University. In the years 2004–2009, participant of doctoral studies at the same Institute. He completed a doctoral dissertation on the subject: “Settlement transformations in the Neolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age in the basin of the Upper and Middle Obra. The geography of settlement. ” (supervisor: prof. dr hab. Janusz Czebreszuk).

He mainly deals with the Younger Stone Age in Greater Poland and Pomerania. He started his professional career by participating in research on the defensive settlement in Bruszczewo. He dealt with the prehistory and early medieval period in the Kościan region, which resulted in the book publication: “Bruszczewo. Ancient civilization center near Śmigiel. ” Program manager: “Greater Poland Megalith Image” – research on the manifestations of megalithism in Greater Poland.

In 2005-2007, participant of postgraduate studies in geology. Finished with the defense of the thesis: “Stone non-flint objects from the early-bronze settlement in Bruszczewo, state. 5, area Kościan (seasons 1964-1968) ”. A specialist in the field of petroarchaeology. He conducts research on the raw material diversity of stone monuments, production methods and traces of use. Moreover, he deals with determining the provenance of stone raw materials imports in the Polish Lowlands. Currently, he is carrying out a research project on trade emporiums in the Baltic Sea basin in the 7th – 10th centuries (identifying the directions of exchange on the basis of the origin of stone raw materials).

In 2006, he was a scholarship holder of the Czech Government at the Masaryk University in Brno.
A graduate of postgraduate studies at the Institute of Music at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań: “Protection and management of archaeological heritage”.
From October 2009, he was employed as an assistant professor at the University of Szczecin in the Department of Archeology of the Historical Institute.
From 1 September 2020, he is the Vice-Dean for Student Affairs at the Faculty of Humanities of the US.


My name is Marcin Szydłowski. I am an assistant professor in the cathedral. archaeology of the University of Szczecin in Western Pomerania I deals with Neolithic time period – that it’s the Bronze Age, stone monuments, but also beliefs.

Belief systems, and above all, to what extent the beliefs that were in the pre-Christian period had an impact on what was believed after Christianity entered our territory. The main problem is that for the most interesting of us, we don’t actually have sources written as such direct. There are some indirect, of course , known sources of various travelers like Ibrahim ibn Jacob and others like him, but they are not touched directly on what interests us most. If we talk about the subject of dreams and their meaning or approaches to the importance of these. 

These dreams here, it seems to me, that at first you had to realise that dreams, at least as we think… We believe that dreams were divided into basic such groups, that is, some sleep moths of no significance, where various, everyday, some activities intersect repeatable over and over again. And dreams, which are not quite with dreams, that is, there is also the issue that. That direct dream we’re talking about, that was a nightmare. it’s just a dream, but this… this dream which was supposed to give us some information, some knowledge, some signs it wasn’t exactly a dream, let’s say it was a dream precognitive, but it was not exactly called as if directly with a dream, only with a certain kind of something. was either a warning that something bad was coming or something good was coming. And so on, except that, How they were interpreted as a rule, these were obviously not direct things as someone come to someone dreamt a pot of gold it means that he already after he sat there and waited for that pot of gold to arrive at his house. And here the problem of ambiguity actually arises and if it’s all sorts of things. Symbolism related to whether with deities or such objects events animals plants. Practically speaking here, when it comes to , for example, just area of Poland, it will be difficult for us to find, as if the repeatability of this as a rule. Well, then we’re talking about the times. pre-Christian, when different Slavic tribes inhabited these areas, actually from the Elbe far in the direction of Of Eastern Europe and there, practically speaking, could to be very different from each other. We can find some similarities, but usually they are differences, but it’s still not enough, because actually we could find the difference between within tribes between some regions. villages and even families because you could talk about something like that. Meaning, this symbolism, say, above tribal, tribal and family, where on an example from the grandfather’s great- grandfather in a given family was considered if it rains. It’s raining, it’s dreaming it’s raining, it’s like a waste. Generally speaking, but in the other family it will be the opposite. Where if it rains, it means we’ll get flooded, for example. Such an example is actually even this region where I come from my family considered the rain to be symbolic positive, but for example elsewhere it was quite the opposite. So here we actually have a problem with the classification of this everything. So I kind of reject sleep as a dream and here we reject those dreams that are common, usually everyday and it happens from time to time. That you’re dreaming of something meaningful or a character. Something or someone known reveals to us there is some luminosity that speaks to us that it will be. Something important will happen in our lives and positive or negative. It is believed that this does not happen often, that is, often enough for as much as necessary. So this precognitive dream is certain necessity, resulting from what happens to our lives or around us, or maybe not in the world would be an exaggeration, but let’s say for our tribe. This can happen, more often, less often, but as a rule let’s say it is assumed that once every few months or so there is such an important dream message. This applies to the so-called ordinary mortals. It will be different in the case of the shaman, who was actually a shaman to cheat all the time this contact with some other beings. Whether supernatural or ghosts of the dead because this is another kind of dream. When we dream of the dead, whom we know, and he dreams of us, as a deceased, but he is living in our i dream, he always has something important to tell us. On the other side, but the truth is he always says he’s not into we can never know what’s in there after that. on the other hand, but this is also a type of dream, as if separate where for everyone, it is important the same impressions that accompany it. So here we have the issue of this earlier – the shaman, who often also…….. – well, there is another issue, as if it’s not quite the same. is literally a dream, that is, a shaman who introduces a certain specific trance of such a half sleep half of the phenomenon, where different signs. Another such issue will be smoke from the fire. Its shape, then there’s fire. The shape of fire , which in different ways he speaks to us there, too. The creators of the well-known series raised the issue that once believed in the shape of fire, which predicts the future there. So actually, there’s more and more going on here, when it comes to the question of what is dreaming, who, when. Then the question of some confusion in Christian times, where in this period the new spiritual authorities in a large way draw from these pre-Christian issues. He’s not here anymore. talk about some so-called gods or pre-Christian gods, but generally knowledge of certain elements was one to one often shifted to the Christian side, only then we are talking about the supreme God, about Christ and so on. However, certain meaningful issues remained the same. Besides, what in the Christmas calendar, we can also pagan traditions are easy to spot. Anyway, I had such a coincidence that I dreamed of mine. a friend, but I knew it wasn’t him. It was beating from him certain light, such a glow. I in this i dreamt that only something appears to me , in the form of someone I know and pass on the information. I remember that he gave the number of months when in my life there will be significant changes, because something new will appear and so on. It was the first of October, and after recalculating months and time that he said it would be somewhere around June. And I had a son. But when I get dreamed this character, no one even remotely came to the idea that something like this might happen, because even in the plans it wasn’t…….so it’s like something I’ve experienced myself and I realize a matter of importance and approach to such matters, such as it was a long time ago . We also have some information from the grandfather great-grandfather. How do we take the sleepers that are available everywhere like Leipzig, Chaldean, Mesopotamian or Hittite and so come on. A whole lot of that can be found. We’ll see one of them. pages such quite simple phrases as: you will have unhappiness, or you will meet great happiness, or great love, or you will find a loved one. So direct. it didn’t work. It was something more. The bigger it was symbolism, but also more such space for interpretations of this if you dream, it’ll happen, and that’s it. Therefore, today we often receive on different portals, we write down what a given sleep, e.g. an egg. A duck or a chicken as you get dream. This is also the issue – sleep conversations with an unspecified other party. As a rule, it is not considered that it was directly of such significance. For example, if you didn’t know where to build a house, or places were given to each other, but it was not known whether this was a good place or to this Slavic, pre-Christian family will be doing well there or not, it’s a peasant he went to the place where the house was supposed to stand and spent the whole night there. He smoked a fire, looked at the smoke, looked at the fire, and slept. there. Depending on what he dreamed he interpreted whether it was good or bad place, whether it was possessed by good spirits or bad ghosts and so on. There was a lot of animal symbolism. Also how animals behave in this dream, whether they are alive or dead, whether they are aggressive or meek eetc. It’s like another compartment here, too. very, very elaborate. I would pay attention first of all on the issue of those ordinary dreams that specifically they didn’t matter and they were rejected. of the fact that they are not important, because they are certain mary repetitive daily activities and familiar things. And these exceptional dreams, of sorts. Precognitive , or could name them in contact with others worlds, with other beings that happen much less often. And their symbolism is enormous, extensive and here you could probably do a lot of work write about the same symbolism, about each compartment separately could to create a great ,great work. And the differentiation of it. depending on the experiences of people, families and internal stories, told from generation to generation. It is very, very diverse only in this Slavic world. this is it. This is it. This is it. tell me – when it comes to archaeology, are there any artifacts left after shamans, or are they just stories from the grandfather great-grandfather that someone believed that the shaman was sitting by the fire, but or when he dreamed he was using something He was helping himself. That’s the right question, because that’s the problem. we will have to answer each other and then we will learn that this shaman really was and what he was doing. We usually buy back some pieces of dishes, pieces of stones and then this archaeologist begins its interpretive dance over what it could have meant. Depending on his own experience, tells different stories about it. However, I think that here they can be a very good player ethnographic messages. Especially from peoples african, which were very well researched in modern times. And then we have the messages. whether from Latin America or also from the Pacific and Indian islands, or from Southeast Asia. However, what gives us certainty…… No, I don’t like the word “sure.” In archaeology, 100% is nothing. you can’t be sure. What it was and what it was used for. But let’s say with a very high probability, we can to say that we have been dealing with the function of a shaman since the Paleolithic. That’s because we see rock drawings. That have survived to our times where there is a human figure who is dressed in various elements he’s wearing the animal’s head. She’s wearing a fragments of fur with the animal’s paws, girded with some sort of let’s say there might be a wolf, a fox, a bear. We know this picture from an Indian movie. where that template was coming out. The shaman had some bear’s head on his back. is so completely devoid of meaning, or the so-called historical truth. However, this shaman was in such a very weird poses, we could call it a dance pose. I’m sure it was some kind of trance. Well, it’s not black and white, but if on the rock is drawn something like this, it probably wasn’t the issue of some crazy artist who had some kind of imagination, but we can assume that these were life scenes taken, so if we already have a full-time shaman in the Paleolithic who had a trance that he was moving in with, that he had to move in with a little bit later there is this information from ethnographic sources that he had to have extreme strength for cold , hot. He must have been able to walk on fire. one of the exercises that you get after those hot coals it flies by. It also originates actually from paleolithic shamanism. Walking on this jumping by fire, walking on hot coals this thing has existed since ancient times . We are sure Well, we can say here, of that certainty. And so there is already the construction of this everything we know about these shamans later. A particularly important issue was precisely attributed to these dreams and the trance they’re getting into. Well, it’s so smooth here, too. the boundary between what was the shaman’s trance and what was the son of a shaman, actually, that’s where he somehow manifests himself in depending on what was more important there , according to him, it remained is then revealed to people, one way or another. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We know somewhere else about Of the 11th century, depending on how the right thing dreamt about that shaman. Either that or the war has been decided. or not, so it was such a serious meaning of this dream extreme be serious. Do we start there with this a tribe across the river, a bloodbath, or better yet, no, because it’s not a good time? Because sleep was a warning, for example, a dead horse or some blood or a severed head. These were warnings that were taken very seriously and the shaman, depending on what he dreamed, could decide about extremely important political issues of a given the region of that time, this world in the middle of Europe.

K: I have the impression that sometimes it still looks like this. I say, yes, I remember now K: lately there has been a case that has been going around in this world K: Slavic historical. K: Where, there are masks from Opole K: I told you once, I think it looked like this, it is K: Early Middle Ages. K: It was excavated in Opole and. At the beginning K: everyone thought that this was the thing. K: To the cult that the shaman wore it to his trances, but the last K: some assumptions, because it is by the way certain that it is K: there was just a chair. K: Because these three three holes are more K: suggest that there was such a little thing to sit on than the thing in K: which was easy to dance to someone by the fire because it, however, is K: a piece of wood heavy enough, but I was actually very interested K: Is there anything left after these K: shamans outside drawings somewhere even such an early K: the Middle Ages or just before Christianity or after because, K: after all, in Poland all the time and in these areas of our such cult K: the old gods and the old faith were alive despite the fact that there was K: baptism of Poland and forced us to go to another ruler.

Well, baptism of Poland, this is the second half of the tenth century. i will use here commonly in the textbooks the given date because she it’s probably not right. When was the Baptism you don’t really know. However, the paganism was to good to the thirteenth century more or less . so two hundred several dozen up to three hundred years after the Polish baptism actually, it could be. To state that this, rather paganism was the dominant religion. Officially, it didn’t exist, or it was. a terrible superstition, which should have been eradicated and burned to the roots, but how to do it An interview among the population, then. it would probably turn out that it was not enough for anyone to be careful christianity. In the 11th century there was an uprising anti-Christian very bloody I gave especially in Lower Silesia. Where a large number of priests and bishops were simply slaughtered. then we also have a raid of Brzetysław roughly with these accident-related later. And it was the other way around. of course, the heights of those who still cultivated their own ancestral heritage. We have also from the ninth century somewhere out there from the vicinity of Bulgaria from the Balkans asking to allow continue with them it’s like they used to with the old man. great-grandfather honored their dead, especially when it came to to be able to put the mound probably on the there was a stone on the top of that stone . There was a jug with some gifts. it didn’t survive, of course, but studies of various types of burrows confirm to us that on we have leftovers from some feasts. Or in the event that this man he was buried in this one in this burial mound. And sometimes it’s huge. the number of different types of gifts. We know that from Egypt, too. from Anatolia and Mesopotamia, but here in our case were it’s the mounds with the gifts, and it’s some sort of farewell party. On the other hand, when it comes to interpretation. Any specific items as Element. A shaman’s workshop. That’s the problem. I think we’re talking about amulets. possible some bones that were carved in various, strange a way that could be some element of shamanic rites. In the case of The issue of clothing, generally speaking, is here on the archaeology of the case of the former periods, these things just didn’t behave. Especially here in our climate, in the acidic soil. It didn’t have much of a chance to survive. And the thing is still quite important if we are talking about these pre-Christian issues, then wood also, it didn’t seem to be acting unless it was burnt out, so we have then these burnt coals, but objects made of wood has not survived to our times from the periods pre-medieval. With a few exceptions if we would have an anaerobic environment, for example a peat bog to which various things were thrown in or something sank there this peat grew very quickly, just in our climate we have a lot of such places, although few positions, but Wielkopolska, Bruszczewo is a position that was at elevation, directly located at the lake that was contaminated. It quickly turned into an anaerobic environment. And there it turned out that actually on objects that were most often found, were objects made of wood, not stone or clay. It’s just that we have this huge hole in the issues all the time. wooden objects, which she did not behave. These individual sites of this type show that the wood was the the most important raw material after all. There was talk of a workshop metallurgy. Workshop of the metallurgist, Blacksmith, which was also a kind of he was more important than a shaman. The Shaman feared the Blacksmith because the Blacksmith feared his soul. kept in the fire, while the shaman did not , so the smith could burn the soul shaman. And the shaman of the blacksmith’s soul does not, so generally greater force she was on the side of the metallurgist or the Blacksmith. There was a Blacksmith and a White. So the bad guy and the good guy were all afraid of the black guy because there was nothing he could do. He could do virtually anything.

K: Kind of like Hephaestus Kind of like, K: it really all intertwines in this mythology, whether it is Greece or in our country we’ll find these threads connecting it all K: you think there was something similar.. recently I was in Turkey on an excavation in Necropolis. K: He told me. A great guide, K: very similar profession to you, only that you teach with us and on vacation K: I made trips. K: That in ancient Greece because then K: this piece of Turkey belonged to the Greeks believed that Mercury K: he walked when someone is buried and collects tears. K: So that later there like this soul K: she went on, they weighed those tears. K: the point was that the more K: people cried for you, it was easier for you to pass by later anyway K: I began to wonder, because the very subject of dreams and K: later dying a little bit connects, because this is K: Recently, unintentionally completely researchers, probably somewhere in the United States, K: but this is where I don’t remember. K: they did a brain scan K: a person who was dying because they were just doing a scan and the guy got K: heart attack and died on this table, but all these readings K: were collected and were practically identical to this K: where it looks like when you dream. how the same activity in the cerebral lobes becomes K: showed, so it connects all the time. K: That’s what you said a moment ago, that the dead can K: contact through dreams, so it is this sphere so very delicate. K: And just like that, the very sight for me Mercury who collects tears for K: such a tiny bottle is quite inspiring and so poetic K: very much, so I wonder if, for example, we also K: something like this could have happened , I just don’t know if we had such a K: the equivalent of the liaison with the gods that he was. K: Hermes or Mercury. K: But I think this is also difficult to track down. K: Because there is not much left after our mythology

Not possibly no we have this Perun pro rev. I’m thinking about this famous a 19th-century find from the river Zbrucz. This famous a figure with four faces. I wonder if that’s where was something carved into the goal could be associated with the issue of dying or in terms of sleep or maybe so far no one has combined it into this way because, rather these interpretations are such more towards How do I put this in terms of utility, and not spiritual means spiritual as in yes, but they focus more there on this they know to such a user those objects that are engraved there there’s a horse. There’s a kind of trumpet. but the problem is that for today and it’s a forgery that it’s not the truth is, it wasn’t real. Was it planted in the nineteenth century by the Potocki family. By Potocki, or maybe Potocki had someone drop it off for him. fascinated. In the nineteenth century such things were not were nothing extraordinary about these counterfeit monuments in the 19th century there was a lot. On the other hand, even if this particular item would be a forgery in general, this statue itself is a fake, rather it is not, maybe the one from Zbrucz was, but the original was almost the same as from Arkona. On the subject of actually religion, this religion is very broad broadly understood, that is, from the beginnings of Shamanism to various there closer to modernity rituals.

K: Did they keep any records after this religion? We had chroniclers later in the Middle Ages. K: they probably described it in some way as a belief? K: as the pagans believed?

it was probably very pejorative but… Not much… if they described it, it was in such a pejorative sense that the chroniclers focused on adoring their rulers. and spitting out the enemy rulers of the neighbouring countries on either side. Would we take Thietmar, or Gall Anonymous, or Kadłubek, and so on these are political pamphlets, not some such ethnographic. I would recommend Moszynski also for years of the 1930s, a huge monumental work. It describes practically everything. What could be said about the known at that time about mythology and the art of the Slavs. This is a few volumes of about a thousand pages each and this is a great body of knowledge. Eliade will be more global, Muszyński will be this is our backyard. Malinowski, these are the peoples out there with islands of the Pacific mainly I think that when it comes to such basic sources That’s enough to start with.

K: I think so, what else. K: Because I know that also very much K: you are sitting in the dormitories and so little less of our K: yards more generally or K: They are similar in meaning, i.e. K: for example, how do we take the Egyptian dreamer and K: Mesopotamian, for example, will they have similar meanings K: specific symbols. K: We know that, that at the moment is K: it’s so very shallow and it’s so internet based K: instant answers you know the fortune cookie almost, but K: are there symbols on these deeper levels in some sort of K: a way universal for these peoples whether everyone had their own yes K: as if we had our own, for example, as you said about it K: rain, that for some it was bad, but in total for others K: the families stated that this is prosperity.

Used to be in mathematics such circles and one over the other overlapped and so it is there is a part in common with the sleepers and there are two full things that do not intersect and how many sleepers as these circles they didn’t draw it they’ll always have the same thing somewhere things, but at the same time we will see that they are with many other on occasions meaningfully very different. Well, then, for sure. We can say that they’re kind of alike, but we can never say that they mean the same thing.

K: Jung began to combine with the fact that , in fact, as such, the global K: Consciousness we think on the same symbols and everything will be very much like this K: codified. K: At the highest level K: layer, but it seems to me that culturally it never K: it won’t make sense if I dream of a tiger K: it will mean something completely different than for someone who before K: with this tiger he had to escape.

Well, let’s take Egypt, and just beyond the brass of Egypt is Palestine. two culturally different worlds, and only beyond Palestine is Anatolia and Mesopotamia, so culturally confident Egypt was closer to Anatolia than Palestine but it, however, different different traditions different worlds although on on the basis of the research on gout, for example, it is believed that Jewish priests. They had the closest DNA match to Egyptian. This is also an interesting alley with a theme things sometimes seem completely loose, but somewhere in our attitudes, it was really the same thing. Anyway, we can to see it throughout the history of religion that when they come priests are usually culturally alien in a given area and on the one hand, they try to impose their different ideas and meanings, but at the same time. dragging those that exist in a given area to which a given people is accustomed to the grandfather of the great-grandfather. This mechanism is very clearly visible in Europe, but in America Latin when Christianity was going through the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries well, not that much they wanted to mix local threads simply.

K: It was different there, like in hoodoo, voodoo, K: They accepted Christianity, K: but they put their deities there on these saints. K: Mexico is very similar at the moment, because they also have K: such syncretism that they mix their old faith with Christianity K: it seems to me that here exactly the same thing happened in certain moments.

now you can also see that you go to Church, burn this candle and pray in the right way. But it doesn’t bother the practitioners, like you said, Voodoo. which are, after all, part of the culture of this people and place

K: We have, for example, K: red ribbons on the baby. K: That from evil and so on, so this, K: so it’s still sitting somewhere deeper than we think K: Well …and any other words of wisdom at the end?

The red ribbon is thought to be against such protection in front of vampires. There is such an experience it’s been done. It’s hard for me to say how much it was methodologically correct, but a red string was developed in in the woods and between the trees there was also a square and there was a person standing there. I don’t remember if it was a person or a the animal was tied up there. And it was about whether the wolves the object will attack and it was shown that no, they did not exceed the red line, the red string. Maybe normal, sure. it would have ended badly, and this red line protected against in front of the wolves in the middle of the dark forest. 

K: this is also very strong K: In different cultures. A red string on the hand appears and u K: us, the Slavs, but there is also K: Kabale, is Mexico they are they have different different plexuses of these K: strings, but he is also sort of between the continental symbol. 

It’s a matter of protecting you from the so -called Evil One. it has a face, whose, what, who, but it’s just protection from evil. Because Evil is afraid of the red colour, but this, rather it’s the red colour from the blood. And the very important issue of Water in all its meanings. Because water and fire are known, but the point is that water is the beginning of everything. What happens when a woman starts giving birth? The so-called waters are breaking away and it is believed that it was one of the most primary, primary, first observed by man in his mind some strange things, supernatural because how is it that women suddenly spill water? Today we know from the medical point of view where it comes from. what it’s all about, but someday we have to realise that, it wasn’t like that. There was no knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology or medicine. So everything that surrounded man was in some way magical. Related to some entities good or bad, dead or not, animal and so on so also There were special practices that had ghosts of dead animals apologise for when they were killed by a hunter. And here is the issue of Water and Throwing Objects into Water ritually destroying them and throwing them into the water is very frequent practice even in prehistoric times . Water as the link between the world of life and death. Because life begins with water and with life actually comes out of the water because the water comes out of the Woman first, then the child, or life, comes out through the water. That’s how it was interpreted.

K: Okay, I guess that’s it for me. K: it seems that thats it. thank you very much. K: If I have any more questions, K: I’ll talk to you at the most, and they probably will. 

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„Światowid”, the statue from Zbrucz – Slavic World model
The idol Zbruczyński, also known colloquially as "Światowid from Zbrucz", as an iconographic record, best illustrates the complexity of the world around us. In one of its symbolic messages, it illustrates that apart from our plane (both above and below) there are also other ones... Fig. Ratomir Wilkowski ]
Mask from Opole.