Archaeologists Discovered a Unique Prehistoric Mound with a Buried Child

Press Release University Science

Archaeologists of the Faculty of Arts examined a unique mound from the Stone Age which was discovered near the village Dušníky in the Ústí nad Labem Region.

It is a so-called long mound, which is one of the oldest in Europe. They discovered a well-preserved mound, a grave chamber with well-preserved timbering, containing a child burial site and artifacts from about 3800 BC.

"The mound in Dušníky is the best-preserved burial monument of this type in Bohemia. Our research revealed a massive grave pit in which the remains of a wooden structure have been uniquely preserved. There is no such a thing from this period in our territory," which describes the significance of the finding the Head of research Petr Krištuf from the Department of Archeology of the Faculty of Arts.

Archaeologists carried out the research in collaboration with the Center for Theoretical Study of Charles University and the Czech University of Life Sciences. All three institutions are connected by a joint interdisciplinary project entitled "Eneolithic Long Barrows in Bohemia and Reconstruction of the Ritual Landscape Around the Hill of Říp". The works began in the spring of this year with aerial photography, soil or pedological probing and geophysical surveys. It transpired that the mound is in fact approximately 86 meters long and 26 meters wide, with its longer axis oriented in the east-west direction, narrowing to 17 metres towards the west.

"We undertook non-destructive research in the spring and got an idea of its shape. We managed to determine the probable position of the burial chamber and discovered a mound embankment about a meter high. Such high mound embankments from the Stone Age are not preserved in Bohemia. Most of the mounds of this period were situated in areas that were used for agriculture and their embankments were ploughed or deliberately dismantled," notes Petr Krištuf.

The archaeological excavation of selected parts of the mound began on August 7, and students of the University of West Bohemia and the Czech University of Life Sciences were given the opportunity to participate in the works. "Research showed that the mound was built at the beginning of the funnelbeaker culture. The child was placed in a crouched position on its side in a massive grave pit, about a metre deep, which had an internal wooden structure. The mound itself was probably modified several times and served as a ritual site for several centuries,” adds Petr Krištuf. The above-mentioned activities are primarily evidenced by the findings of hundreds of ceramic fragments in front of the eastern facade of the mound, which come from vessels used for unknown purposes.

The research of the mound in Dušníky uses knowledge and methods from various fields. In addition to archaeology, researchers analysed the chemical composition of the mound and the prehistoric soil. Further environmental analyses will follow to help archaeologists discover how and when the mound was built and to discover more information about the buried child.

On Tuesday, August 24, the results of the research will be presented to members of the public who booked a tour of this year’s Archaeological Summer. The mound in Dušníky is one of the places on the map of the event, during which archaeologists accompany participants to interesting localities throughout the country. "The public will be able to get acquainted with the results of our research on the spot, to see the exposed parts of the mound and the collected artifacts," concludes Petr Krištuf.

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