-The students need to understand the basic difference between the concept of history (based on written records of human activities in the past) and prehistory (past events before writing was introduced in a given culture or society). They should be shown examples of history and prehistory resources such as chronicles, annals, documents, letters, inscriptions/meaningful symbols versus archaeological artefacts, excavations, tools, oral traditions, myths, legends, past customs or tra-ditions. The next step is to introduce and discuss with students how modern science (e.g. archae-ology, genetics/human DNA studies or carbon dating techniques of fossils to determine their age, etc.) helps us to look into the “Dark Ages”. It is very welcome and recommendable to create a little bit of “mysterious and magical” atmosphere to the topic by mentioning ancient legends, myths or folklore stories together with music pieces and projected images in the background (thus activating multi-sensory perception of the students). The teacher should rather simplify the scien-tific terms and/or avoid overburdening the students with too much of “a scientific talk” depending on their age, general knowledge and cognitive skills.
Activities and their web resources : (to be transferred to and/or modified into Canva History tem-plates in the development process)
Intro: Presentation of the world’s biggest and probably greatest Neolithic (New Stone Age) Flint Mine in “Krzemionki Opatowskie” in Poland (or in other words “The Real Flintstones” Story) which is also a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site of underground mining structures, flint workshops and some 4,000 shafts and pits. Explore the tunnels made by prehistoric miners and find out how local striped flint was fashioned into Stone Age tools to be exported all over Central Europe on a massive industrial scale. Have a look around the reconstructed Neolithic prehistoric village and have a taste of its living and working conditions.
After the introduction made by the teacher, the students are asked to read an extract from an archaeological magazine about Krzemionki Opatowskie to find out more and stimulate their in-terest in the topic:
“It has been talked about for many years, since its discovery (…) It turned out that in the center of Poland there is something that we can call the first industrial center in the history of mankind. By extracting stone, processing it and transporting it over long distances, the communities living here have created something resembling an industrial civilization. In the archaeological community, Krzemionki has long been considered a monument of world importance.
The striped flint mines in Krzemionki were discovered in 1922 by a geologist born in Ostrowiec, prof. Jan Samsonowicz. They were quickly recognized as a very significant monument: since 1994 they have been a monument of history, and since 1995 also a nature reserve.
The prehistoric striped flint mines date back to the Late Stone Age and the Early Bronze Age (they were operating between the 4th and 2nd millennium BC). There are about 4,000 shafts connected by a network of galleries are. The shafts located in Krzemionki are up to 9 meters deep. The striped flint, which was used to make tools, was extracted from limestone in the mines.
In Krzemionki Opatowskie area, both the underground architecture – excavations and galleries used by miners – and the landscape on the surface have been very well preserved – you can still observe shaft craters, former entrances to the mines surrounded by folds of limestone rubble. Unlike other archaeological sites of this type, you can also see in Krzemionki various types of mines: from the shallowest pit mines, through niche mines, to deep pillar-chamber mines and chamber mines.
What could work in flint mines look like?
Work in the mines was probably carried out by specialized clans of miners and producers of flint tools who had the appropriate geological and technical knowledge. The height of the underground ranges from 55 to 120 cm, because the flint deposits occur only in one layer of limestone, about one meter thick. Therefore, all work had to be done “on your knees” or lying down. The working condi-tions were worsened by the constant, low temperature (5 to 9ºC) and very high humidity prevailing there. Small torches from tar wood were used to illuminate the corridors and workstations, which allowed for sufficient light with little smoke.
Some researchers even believe that the torches could also be used to force air circulation in the most remote parts of the mines. In contrast to high geological and engineering knowledge, there are simple tools that were used when working in the underground. These were primarily stone, flint and animal antler pickaxes, as well as pestles and mallets. There was also a whole set of wooden tools. The timeline of exploiting one mine varied and could reach even 300 years. At one work shift, the crew consisted of a few to a dozen or so people involved in drilling, transporting to the surface and processing the mineral.
The flint extracted from limestone was selected in the underground, and then the best raw material was transported in baskets or bags to the surface. Here, in the immediate vicinity of the exit from the shaft, the so-called flint processing workshops, the material was divided into smaller pieces, and these in turn were formed into tools – flint axes and chisels. In the period of the greatest popularity of striped flint (first half of the 3rd millennium BC), the tools “made in Krzemionki Opatowskie” reached areas distant from the mines by about 700 km and possibly even further!”