Monday, 13 July 2020 PL EN | |

Professor Lech Krzyżaniak

Memories of Professor Lech Krzyżaniak (1940 - 2004) by Marek Lemsze (Archaeological Museum in Poznań) He was always a dynamic, energetic man. The first symptoms of more serious health problems appeared a year ago, and although they were a complete surprise for the whole community, no one could possibly expect that the disease would suddenly rip him out of the living. In May he decided to stay in the hospital, where he was to undergo a routine surgical procedure. With the employees of the Poznan Archaeological Museum, of which he was a long-time director, he said goodbye to just a few weeks, by the end giving instructions and distributing tasks ... The next series of studies, however, confirmed the worst fears. Then came the last weeks of intensive palliative care when three women watched over his bed: wife, daughter and niece. He retired on July 10, 2004, surviving 64 years. The funeral at the Miłostowski Cemetery gathered hundreds of people who came to say goodbye to Him in the final way - friends, co-workers, students, as well as representatives of the city of Poznań and the scientific community from all over the country ... It was raining this morning. However, at the moment when the cave went down the cemetery, the rain suddenly fell silent, and the sun came out from behind the clouds - strong, like in the African sky, under which he spent a large part of his life ... Lech Krzyżaniak was born on February 8, 1940 in Wilków, a small village in you say Szamotuły, in a local school teacher's family. The Wielkopolska roots - together with the entire baggage of historical and cultural conditions, stereotypes and probably the genetic traits of a typical Poznanian - were for him always a reason for genuine pride, though not deprived of healthy distance and self-irony reflection. Childhood, spent in the countryside near the magnificent woodlands and the famous Bytyńskie Brzęki reserve, must have had an overwhelming fascination with forest and wild nature, whose passion the Professor will remain faithful throughout his life - already as a researcher on the impact of changes in the natural environment on the functioning of prehistoric communities, he was already an avid hunter and active member of the hunting club, in which he became known as an authentic lover of forest flora and fauna, involved not only in the shooting of ill animals, but also in winter feeding or protection against poachers. In college, he had a second passion - motorcycles. Years later, he recalled that with his friend, prof. Michał Kobusiewicz, they once bought two models with mysteriously sounding names: WFM and WSK. And although it was supposed to take more time than the ride itself to constantly repair, fascinate with motoring and off-road vehicles, the professor would also be subjected later, during his trips to the desert wilderness. In 1957, Lech Krzyżaniak passed the matriculation exam at the High School in Szamotuły, after which he joined the University. Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, where he studied archeology under the direction of eminent Poznan professors - prahistorykos: W. Koćko and J. Kostrzewski. He graduated in 1962, defending the magisterium devoted to the cemetery of the Lusatian culture from the turn of the Bronze and Iron Age in Biernatki near Śrem. Already at that time he was employed at the Poznań Archaeological Museum, with whom his entire professional life was tied and where he went through all professional levels - from the assistant through the custodian, docent to the director's seat, who - in the face of an extremely complicated situation - took after W. Błaszczyk in 1982, returning - despite fluctuations - from a foreign scholarship to a country subject to martial law. It should also be emphasized that the entire scientific career of Lech Krzyżaniak, if measured by scientific degrees, probably belonged to the fastest history of our post-war archeology: at the age of 28 he obtained a doctorate in humanities, presenting at the University of Poznań a dissertation on the funeral rite of Pomeranian culture. In 1975 he was a habilitated doctor, and in 1992, after a conductor at the University of Warsaw, he received a professorship in the humanities.

Meanwhile, however, is the beginning of the 60s. The first scientific publications of the young Master Krzyżaniak appear in print, devoted mainly to the prehistoric archaeological sites of Wielkopolska. At the same time, however, the second trend of His interests crystallized, and the result was a few articles about issues that are far away: the ancient cultures of Central and South America. As the Professor himself later claimed, everything began with a review of the Russian work "Isskustwo driewniej Ameriki" R.W. Kindżałowa. The fascination with such a distant terrain and little then popular in Poland subjects at the beginning failed Lech Krzyżaniak on ... private lessons of the Spanish language, and a little later - in the face of the senior and the creator of the Polish school of Mediterranean archeology, , professor Kazimierz Michałowski, who seriously considered the possibility of applying for permission to start research in Mexico. However, as the political situation of that time did not support the quick launch of the project, Professor Michałowski decided to check the skills of the Poznań scientist on the Nile in the meantime. And so, in a completely random way, at the end of 1965 Lech Krzyżaniak appeared in Aleksandria on Kom el-Dikka, thus starting his greatest scientific - and personal at the same time - the adventure of life, that "perverse romance with Africa", as it will be later call. At that time, classical archeology, using more of the art history research workshop, was just beginning to appreciate the advantages of the exploratory method developed by prehistory. However, the debutant showed considerable experience in conducting field work, so Michałowski decided to join him to the team operating in Sudan. Lech Krzyżaniak took part in the first, now legendary excavation campaigns in Dongola (seasons 1966/1967, 1970 and 1971). A few years ago, working at the Mediterranean Archeology Station in Cairo, I had the opportunity to organize archival photos from the great 60s - the golden age of Polish research on the Nile. I also came across old, yellowed photographs made by members of this pioneering Danube expedition: rugged, sun-bleached military tents broken in the open field (or actually in the desert), modest Christmas Eve under the imitation Christmas tree, archaeologists on donkeys, immortalized in during the daily, several-kilometer journey back and forth ... And I get the impression that here was the key to understanding what has fully captured the soul of a young Poznan archaeologist, and which will tie him with a strong and inseparable thread with Sudan for the rest of his life: charm and the exotic of this fascinating country, and at the same time the extraordinary atmosphere of excavations, not deviating from that of Petri or Carter's era, and finally unlimited research possibilities, drawing in the so-far unknown, peripheral region of the ancient world. More than 30 years later, in 2002, Lech Krzyżaniak, together with the second Sudanese veteran Stefan Jakobielski, will stand in Khartoum before a representative of the Sudanese government to receive from his hands the highest award given to foreigners - the Two Class II Nile Star. Can he be surprised that this most exotic order was highly appreciated by the professor from all who were awarded to him in the past ... At the beginning of the 1970s the prehistory of north-east Africa began to appear in the sphere of interest of Polish archaeologists, but mainly through the prism of the oldest Paleolithic cultures . Lech Krzyżaniak, on the other hand, saw for himself an opportunity for effective scientific activity, undertaking research into the civilization of the Nile Valley in the Neolithic period - an epoch that was of utmost importance for understanding the genesis of the state of the first pharaohs. This idea gained sympathetic support from Professor Michałowski and thanks to this the problems of the end of the prehistory of Egypt and Sudan were soon included as one of the priorities in the research program of the Center of Mediterranean Archeology - an institution established to coordinate Polish research in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.