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Man from Munich digs with Slovak archaeologists for the 18th summer

Archaeological excavations in Nižná Myšľa in eastern Slovakia have become the love of Ulrich Fries’ life. As a volunteer, the former clerk of the Bavarian regional government is helping this municipality near Košice uncover its 3,500 year old past for his 18th consecutive season.

Ulrich Fries offers his help to Slovak archaeology. (Source: TASR)

Archaeological excavations in Nižná Myšľa in eastern Slovakia have become the love of Ulrich Fries’ life. As a volunteer, the former clerk of the Bavarian regional government is helping this municipality near Košice uncover its 3,500 year old past for his 18th consecutive season.

“It is a hobby for me. This year, there are very interesting excavations with remarkable findings,” the German man from Munich, aged 72, told the TASR newswire. He admits that every year he harbours fears about whether he can still take part in the excavations – and if he can be useful. This year, Fries is spending a total of ten weeks in Nižná Myšľa.

“The work is very interesting: it is exciting to find ancient items, any shard, to hold them in one’s hands, watch them, contemplate them,” he confesses. Fries managed to find a bronze dagger, in addition to several golden pieces. Although he is not an archaeologist by profession, he worked as council chief in a government office. In the past he travelled to distant, exotic countries, but eventually this Slovak municipality – of which he became an honorary citizen two years ago - became the traditional location for his yearly work holiday. He even conceded that he is not familiar with other parts of Slovakia. He learned about Nižná Myšľa from a newspaper story published in Germany.

The research of this locality in Košice Region, with a burial site from the late Bronze Age, is currently being carried out in its 36th season by the Košice branch of the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, led by Ladislav Olexa. The research has so far confirmed that 3, 500 years ago, an important centre stood on the Myšľa elevation Várhégy, on the trade route between the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. The area was extremely important for trade and military defense. In the media, this locality is often named after the famous ancient Greek city as “Slovak Mycenae”.

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