History is a very fragile thing. Although facts and artifacts appear to be solid evidence for the course of past events, their meaning for the present and future is matter of interpretation. More than once in history, history was interpreted or falsified according to political or religious ideologies. And still today – even with thorough historians trying their best to stay scientific and handle facts instead of fiction – history often is a more of less obvious instrument for shaping national, political or religious identities.

Only in rare cases, the process of re-interpreting and re-writing history to emphasize a certain political picture happens openly in public – especially in Europe.

Nevertheless, one of such a cases could recently be observed in Poland:

Shortly after the opening of World War II Museum in Gdansk in spring 2017, its director was replaced on behalf of the national-conservative government. The new director is supposed to crate a more patriotic picture of the events in Poland during WW II by focussing on the victimhood of the Polish people and withholding anti-Semitic or collaborative tendencies. The exhibits in the museum will remain, but the stories they tell will be re-written.

In my personal opinion, „cleaning“ history from its unpleasant moments in order to create an unambiguous picture leaves out exactly the nuances and subtleties from which we and future generations can learn the most.

Yet, who am i, but just an artist. Coming from Nürnberg and temporarily living in Gdansk, not even speaking polish. With no chance of getting involved in the local political debate, i am finding my own reaction on the situation. Artistically.

Following the new local trend of open interpretation of history, i proudly present the archeological collection of the Lastadia Cultural Excavation Site.

While preparing for a vegetable garden, the presented artifacts were dug from the ground of a small property close to St. Peter & Paul Church in Gdansk.

Some of the finds confirm known history, others shed a completely new light on historic events. Yet one thing they all have in common: The stories they tell are entirely „true“.

Lastadia Cultural Excavation Site   2019

installation, Studio LaStadia, Gdansk (PL)

Animal bones

about 10,000 to 8,000 B.C.

The bones originate from different animals. Taking into account the distribution of the bones on the discovery site and the depth of discovery it can be concluded that animals were ritually sacrifced on this site over a period of several centuries. To which gods the animal sacrifces were offered can only be matter of speculation. Nevertheless, the absence of any skull fragments points towards the god KnockKnock, who is supposed to have been the good of headaches.

The findings in detail:

1a) Ribs of a hare

1b) Shoulder fragment of a young bear

1c) Hip fragment of a young boar

1d) Cervical vertebrate of a boar

1e) Hip fragment of a wildcat

1f) Upper arm bone of a wolf

1g) Hip joint of a wolf

1h) Thigh bone of a wild goose

Roman ceramics – ornamental work

about 150 B.C.

On the basis of this fnding, a previously unknown Roman settlement of the area could be detected. The fragment is part of a ceramic ornament that was common in rich Roman houses between 300 and 100 BC. From the absence of any documentary mention of a Roman settlement so far northeast of the Limes can be concluded that the fragment is part of the house decoration of a rich Roman emigrant.

Pottery shards

about 350 - 250 B.C.

Two Greek and one Etruscan pottery fragments, found in close proximity to the Roman ornament, suggest that they were brought here by the Roman immigrant. Another ceramic fragment can not be assigned exactly. Presumably it is a piece of Egyptian pottery. These fndings offer a more detailed picture of the Roman immigrant: It must have been a wealthy and culturally interested person. From the absence of other ancient fndings at this site can be concluded that the settlement was of relatively short duration. Whether the settlement was forcibly destroyed or whether the newcomers integrated into the local culture is unclear.

The fndings in detail

3a) Two Greek pottery shards

3b) Etruscan pottery shards

3c) Unknown ceramic fragment. Presumably Egyptian

Wood fragment – cross of Christ

33 A.D.

By radiocarbon-method, isotope-analysis and the close examination of the annual rings could be clearly determined that it is in fact a fragment of the cross of Jesus Christ. So far, all known fragments of the cross come from the cross's core. The new fnding is a piece of wood from the surface of the cross. This discovery puts an end to a dispute that has been waged for many centuries – sometimes even violently: Was Christ's cross painted, and if so, in what color?. The fnd clearly shows that the cross of Christ was not just painted. Furthermore, it was also much more elaborately crafted than previously presumed. In addition, it shows several layers of paint. This indicates that the cross of Christ was a rental cross. The theologian Gustavo Tulpidow points in his writing "the borrowed cross" (1872) towards the common practice of rental crosses in Roman times. Family or friends of a person condemned to crucifxion could rent a high-quality representation-cross instead of using an ordinary one-way cross.

The findings of the Lastadia Cultural Excavation Site

installation view:   Studio Lastadia, Gdansk (PL)  2019