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2012-09-12

Matzevos discovered on the Vistula riverbed

A long rainless period lowered the water level of the Vistula river so that you may reach usually inaccessible places without any problem. As a result, many treasures hidden for decades in the river’s bottom have seen the light of day.

A few days ago, Rafał Rachciński, who went fishing on the Vistula river bank, noticed a few dozen architectural objects that were protruding from the water. About one hundred meters away, Rachciński found a slab with Hebrew inscriptions. He reported his discovery to the TVN Warszawa channel, which later notified Warsaw History Museum, the Institute of Archeology at the University of Warsaw and the Warsaw Monuments’ Restorer Office.

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Hubert Kowalski, from the Institute of Archeology, proposes that the findings are likely to be parts of castle furnishing, which were plundered during the Deluge. Towards the end of the 17th century, the Swedes robbed pieces of works of art in Warsaw, which they subsequently rafted by sea to Gdańsk. Sometimes, however, ships were overloaded and sank. The stolen goods have remained in the Vistula riverbed to this date, says Tomasz Zieliński in his interview with TVN Warszawa. Presently, archeologists are in the process of securing the findings. The Vistula bank is being guarded by the police.

The discovery has drawn the interest of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Last Wednesday, members of the Virtual Shtetl portal, accompanied by Rafał Rachciński, inspected the shoal in the middle of the Vistula. They found the head of a matzevot, on which two verses of an epitaph have been preserved: ‘Here rests a woman from a good family […]’ and small fragments of other tombstones with single letters. No one knows how the matzevos were moved to the center of the Vistula bed.

In all probability, the matzevos come from the Jewish cemetery in Bródno and were used for paving the river bottom after the end of WWII. We have notified the Jewish Religious Community in Warsaw, the Cemetery Rabbinical Committee and the Nissenbaum Foundation.

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