Polish Archaeological Record
The Polish Archaeological Record is a countrywide programme aimed at taking an inventory of all signs of past human activity (so-called archaeological sites). Its main purpose is the protection of archaeological heritage, and it is also used for scientific purposes. Sites are catalogued using the results of so-called surface surveys, wherein artefacts found on the surface are registered. These are complemented with archival data and aerial photography and – the latest addition – digital terrain modelling.
Records of archaeological sites visible on the surface of western Mazovia were made already in the 19th century. However, up to the 1960s, such efforts were arbitrary and unsystematic. The situation changed when Stefan Woyda took the post of the Heritage Conservator Officer for the Warsaw Voivodship. The young archaeologist set himself the task of taking an inventory of all archaeological sites in the area under his purview, including those not yet discovered. Hence, he developed a research programme called the Mazovia and Podlasie Archaeological Record. Western Mazovia – then a poorly explored area – was chosen to serve as the pilot. The method developed by Stefan Woyda was grounded in systematic surface surveys of all (!) accessible areas within the limits of the designated area. Further steps involved the preparation of unified inventory cards of discovered sites, listing their basic profile (type of site, character of discovered artefacts, dating etc.), as well as maps. The results of the programme surpassed his wildest dreams. Stefan Woyda discovered over 1,000 new archaeological sites, including the Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy. His work in Mazovia showcased the need to carry out similar actions elsewhere in the country. This did indeed happen in 1978, with the launch of a countrywide project – the Polish Archaeological Record, whose design drew upon the experience gathered by Stefan Woyda in Mazovia.