Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy
The Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy is one of the largest iron smelting centres of Ancient Europe. This umbrella term encompasses some 240 archaeological sites with vestiges of large-scale iron smelting discovered in west Mazovia. This economic phenomenon was created by a people referred to by archaeologists as the Przeworsk Culture, which in late Antiquity (from the 2nd century to the 5th century AD) inhabited what today is central and southern Poland. It is identified with the Vandals, a tribe known from written Roman sources.
The flagship Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy sites are large, permanently occupied settlements, with distinct areas dedicated to iron smelting. Alongside these, there were smaller, short-lived settlements, not directly linked with metallurgy. Additionally, archaeological exploration of the area yielded over a dozen cemeteries.
Mazovian iron smelting was based around the use of local, easily accessed bog ore deposits. Iron was smelted in single-use bloomeries, hence their remains now allow estimating the output. The largest sites hold the remains of between several thousand and over a dozen thousand bloomeries. The total number of bloomeries is estimated at 120,000–150,000. The height of activity of the Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy was in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The quantity of produced iron greatly exceeded local demand. It is theorised that trade in iron led to an intensive economic development of the region, as evidenced by the excavated luxury items. One such item is a glass beaker – a Roman import, discovered at Zaborów – depicting gladiatorial combat.