Topics of coins

100th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Complex of Prehistoric Striped Flint Mines “Krzemionki”

One hundred years ago, on 19 July 1922, a young geologist Jan Samsonowicz was exploring the fields of Krzemionki village in the former Opatów district of the Kieleckie voivodship. Among the fields and meadows, he came across a large concentration of unusual, funnel-shaped cavities. They turned out to be prehistoric mining shafts. Samsonowicz managed to descend into several prehistoric pits, where he found the original mining tools made of flint and antlers. Having carried out the necessary inspections and measurements, he realised that he was dealing with a unique, unprecedented discovery. He found extensive prehistoric striped flint mines which had operated there during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (approx. 3900-1600 BC).

The first archaeological excavations in Krzemionki were started in 1925 by Józef Żurowski. The site became the scene of research conducted by several generations of Polish archaeologists. Owing to their work, it was possible to gather impressive knowledge about the life and work of prehistoric miners who thousands of years ago used to extract striped flint in this area and who had mainly used it to make polished axes. In the third millennium BC they were distributed within a range of 660 kilometres from the mines.

In Krzemionki, four thousand mines of striped flint had been dug, forming a mining field covering an area of about 78 hectares. Both the underground workings, carved into the limestone rock, and the surface landscape transformed by prehistoric mining activities are well-preserved. Today the site remains under the protection of the Historical and Archaeological Museum in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski and is a part of the nature reserve. Its collections and the underground tourist route are open to visitors.

In 2019, Krzemionki together with the archaeological sites (the Borownia and Korycizna mining fields, the Neolithic settlement on the Gawroniec hill in Ćmielów) were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The reverse of the coin issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the mines features an image of a prehistoric miner at work and an elliptical insert made of striped flint.

The obverse of the coin shows the characteristic symbol of the Great Mother. This is a charcoal drawing made on the surface of a limestone pillar of one of the mines in Krzemionki. It probably presents a figure associated with the beliefs and mythology of the Neolithic miners. It is one of several examples of prehistoric rock art in contemporary Poland. It is currently incorporated into the logotype of the Archaeological Museum and the “Krzemionki” Reserve (a branch of the Historical and Archaeological Museum in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski).

Historical and Archaeological Museum
in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski