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Lost treasures found in toilets of 400-year-old palace in Poland destroyed by Nazis

Saxon Palace in Warsaw (State Archives in Warsaw/Released)

For most people, a trash-filled toilet is a headache to be dealt with, a mess to be cleaned or both. For archaeologists in Poland, however, a trash-filled toilet was a curiosity to be explored.

Archaeologists in Warsaw were excavating the ruins of Saxon Palace — a 400-year-old structure destroyed by Nazi troops during World War II — when they found something in the cellars, according to a Jan. 26 news release from Science in Poland.

In the cellar, archaeologists uncovered a number of toilets and wells, most filled with trash. The structures had become less of a sewage system and more of a garbage can, explained excavations coordinator Maria Wardzyńska in the release.

Shoved between the bricks of one toilet, researchers found a diamond ring made of silver and gold. The valuable item is one of nearly 46,000 artifacts unearthed from the royal rubble.

Archaeologists have also found coins, pottery vessels, fragments of destroyed sculptures and medallions, according to the release. Videos from Polska Agencja Prasowa, the Polish Press Agency, shows the red-brick palace ruins.

The Saxon Palace was originally built in the 1660s and became a royal residence in the 1720s, according to the State Archives in Warsaw. The building was expanded as its functions shifted throughout the 1700s.

Over the centuries, the building has housed Polish military staff, a foreign affairs ministry, restaurants and shops, Wardzyńska said in the release. The building even housed a high school in the early 1800s, according to Radio Poland.

Nazi German armies occupying Poland blew up the palace in 1944, soon after the Warsaw Uprising movement failed to overthrow the occupation, the state archives said.

The Polish government plans to reconstruct Saxon Palace, Radio Poland reported in 2022. The reconstruction efforts are underway and are scheduled to be completed in 2030.


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