The Oldest Charts of History of Szczecin

How did people live in Szczecin 600, 800, or even 1000 years ago? Where did they live? What tools did they work with? What ornaments did they wear during holidays? What did they believe in? What did they use to fight? Who ruled them?

These and futher questions regarding the beginnings of Szczecin, the development of the town granted the „settlement with Magdeburg law”, the capital of the state of the House of Griffins, are answered by the exhibition entitled The Oldest Charts of the History of Szczecin.

This history, written most of all with objects found by archaeologists in Pomeranian Dukes' Castle and its surroundings during longstanding excavations and with scarce documents, makes it possible to create individual conceptions of the past of multicultural – even as early, as in the Middle Ages – city of Szczecin.

Layers of the settlement of Szczecin, within centuries coming to existence below today's castle surrounding buildings, shown as a 9-meter high cross-sectional profile create archaeological background of the exhibition. In humid layers of near-river settlement, there survived numerous ceramic, stone and wood relics and even the remians of houses. On account of fundations of early-mediaeval log cabin and fragments of its equipment, presented at the beginning of the exhibition, we can imagine the size of cabins and conditions inside them – semidarkness and intrusive smoke of the hearth.

However, the main point of the exhibition are everyday and non-everyday use objects. Arranged in a proper way, they tell the story of the city. A statuette of a pagan home deity and other items of Slavic cult, neighbouring with the equipment of first Szczecin's Christian temples, recall the times of the conquest of Western Pomerania by Bolesław Krzywousty and Christianization mission of St. Otto, Bishop of Bamberg, who arrived in Szczecin for two times. Weapons and horse gear from 11th - 14th centuries could have been used by warriors and knights defending Szczecin from Polish, Danish or Brandeburgish attacks. On the other hand, Szczecin's contacts with other duchies were not limited to military conflicts. Economical and cultural exchange between Szczecin and Scandinavian territories is testified by numerous merchants' equipment and imported goods. Its interesting, although inconspicuous, example is a Scandinavian chest. A craftsman – probably a Szczecin's one – tried to ornament it with Slavic motives. However, because of unknown reasons, he has not completed his work.

Products of specialized craftsmen of Szczecin started to appear in greater numbers after the city location, which began in 1237–1243. In the exhibition cases, resembling mediaeval tenements, a wide range of shoemakers', fishing, blacksmithry, coopery and pottery wares from 13th-17th centuries are presented, and beside models of mechant ships used when the city belonged to the Hansa, there can be seen attributes of salesmen and some of goods sold by them in Szczecin.

The visitors' attention is undoubtedly attracted by Szczecin's „treasure of the century”, found in the castle surroundings in 1999. Over 350 silver Pomeranian coins and a large number of various decorations made of gilded silver, ornamenting patrician's costume, are the central point of the exhibition. The treasure, hidden in three-legged metal pot under the floor of one of buildings at historic Fish Market, lying underground for over 500 years was vulnerable to serious corrison. Today, after laborious conservation, it can be seen in the Old Twon Hall in all its glory and evoke further speculations about unknown and certainly tragic history of the owner of the mysterious treasure, as well, as about other unknown creators of the exhibits, now the earliest cultural heritage of the people of Szczecin.