Living Monuments of the Second World War: Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Trees with Carvings

  • Dawid Kobiałka


This paper discusses the results of terrestrial laser scanning combined with close range photogrammetry of the common beeches (Fagus sylvatica) covered in carvings (arborglyphs) dated to 1944 around Chycina, Poland. First, the archaeological research concerning heritage in the woodlands is shortly outlined using Polish archaeology as a case study. Then, the limitations of such research are pointed out. The last two parts of this paper present the beeches as a unique example of living monuments of the recent past. It is argued that archaeologies of the recent past in the woodlands will be gaining an increasing relevance in Polish as well as European archaeology.


Archaeology of the recent past Monuments Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) Nature-culture 



Many people helped me during the research. I would like to thank Kornelia Kajda and Maksymilian Frąckowiak for joint research on the archaeology of tree carvings. Acknowledgements go also to the company “Gispro Sp. z o.o.” which scanned the trees with carvings near Chycina. Grzegosz Szalast from “ArchService” helped me with the visualizations of panels of the trees. Mikołaj Kostyrko gave me the permission to use the air photo (Fig. 2) in this article which was found during his research at the National Archives and Records Administration, USA. Sketchfab offered me a free account on its portal where the 3D models of trees can be viewed and approached by the public, for which I would like to thank. A big thank you to my wife Anna Kobiałka who graphically refined figures to this article. Last but not least, Kazimierz Raba kindly allowed me to use his installations created as part of the Signs of Nature, Signs of Culture (Fig. 5). Finally, I thank two anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of the manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions. However, I remain entirely responsible for any simplifications and errors.


This work is part of my research financed by the National Science Centre, Poland on the basis of decision no. DEC-2016/20/S/HS3/00001.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Archaeological ResearchInstitute of Archaeology and Ethnography Polish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

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