The on-line transmission from the flight2017-10-17 16:19:11
THE WARSAW CORSET AND THE TREASURE ISLAND
The Warsaw Corset is the area from the Old Town to Młociny, where the valley of Vistula is the most narrow, its width spanning 400-500 m.
Apart from that, at the level of the Citadel, river stones formed a belt from one bank to another, creating a natural dam. When the level of the water is low, the dam transforms into one-meter high waterfall.
When the water level is low, it is impossible to pass through there even in flat-bottomed boats, as they crash on the stones. It happened in 1656, when Swedish troops raided the city and began to transport the robbed goods by water, which enabled them to load the largest treasures on barges. Every boat had displacement of 100 tons. The goods transported on the boats comprised of palace decorations, balustrades, fountains and pieces of architecture. One of the barges had crashed on the rocks, and the treasures of the Casimir’s Palace were lost in the waters of the river.
Since that time, Vistula changed its riverbed, the currents carried away the stolen goods and covered them with sand and mud. Many of them might have been buried under the present land mass. The treasure was resting in the Vistula for a few centuries. Years after, at the beginning of the 20th century, some objects were discovered by sand diggers, but they left no information about the treasure's whereabouts.
Now, after 350 years, it has been discovered and dug out by Professor Hubert Kowalski and his team from the University of Warsaw. The project was inspired by historic documents, such as the letter of Peter des Noyers, Queen Marie Louise's secretary, who wrote: “Swedes robbed Warsaw again, and they loaded the loot on six great ships.” Near the end of October 1656, the secretary mentioned the treasure again: “(…) we have retrieved some of it, namely beautiful large jasper columns, cannons and Antique sculptures.”
The efforts of Hubert Kowalski, new technologies for water research that were used, queries and endless hours spent in archives proved fruitful. The probable place where the ships sank was finally determined. Finding the valuable artefacts in the muddy waters of the Vistula, where the average underwater visibility is up to twenty centimeters, was almost impossible, but the searchers were in the luck. In 2011, six tons of sculpted decorations were located, what confirmed that the scientists were on the right track. In the next year, another six tons of marble antiquities were discovered. On August 28, 2015, the water level in the Vistula reached the record 41 cm, the lowest result since the 18th century. The stones in the riverbed resurfaced, and more of the artefacts became visible among sand and gravel.
In this way, the area of the stones that sank the ships has become a treasure island on the Vistula and an unusual symbol of the city: both of its historic splendor and affluence, and the determination of local researchers in their efforts to retrieve it. The discovery was not just a matter of luck, their hard work and logical thinking were crucial. There are many paths that lead to a discovery, but all of them can be a great intellectual adventure.