Below Říp, archeologists uncover a burial structure similar to megalithic tombs

Press Release Achievements Science

Archeologists have discovered a third burial structure from the Old Stone Age below Říp Hill. After last year's research into burial mounds in the nearby towns of Dušníky and Vražkov, the archeologists will focus on the long structure on the border between the Račiněves and Vražkov cadastres.

"The burial mound in Račiněves represents the longest burial monument of its kind in the area below Říp. It is over 120 meters in length and its construction is of a completely different type from those in the previous locations," says lead researcher Petr Krištuf from the Department of Archeology at the UWB Faculty of Arts.

The burial mound was discovered during research conducted in the local sand pit in the 1990s, though only the western part of the mound was uncovered. As part of "Eneolithis Long Burial Mounds in Bohemia and the Reconstruction of the Ritual Countryside Below Říp", the focus of an interdisciplinary team of archeologists and educators is now on the mound's eastern end and the burial chamber, which was discovered in the adjacent field by way of geophysical prospecting. "The eastern sections of long burial mounds were often used as sanctuaries for ritual purposes for a period of several decades, which is why our research focuses on these spaces," explains Jan Turek from the Center for Theoretical Studies at Charles University.

The burial mound in Račiněves was fortified by a timber palisade, whose foundations have survived to this day. On the eastern side, there was an entrance to the structure, which provided access to the center of the burial mound. The team of archeologists have been able to prove that in the eastern section of the burial mound there was a hollow chamber approx. 5.5 by 2 meters in size, which could be accessed by this eastern entrance. "This is a significant discovery. The existence of these chambers in long burial mounds in Bohemia has been documented for the first time. In similar structures in north-western  parts of Europe, we see so-called megalithic tombs constructed from large stone blocks. In our parts, stone was replaced with wood," explains Petr Krištuf. However, the main burial chamber is separated from this chamber. About 40 meters from the eastern end of the mound, a large burial pit measuring approx. 3 by 2 meters was discovered at a depth of about 160 centimeters. It was a crouched burial site. The research is still ongoing, but the archeologists already have a set of four stone arrowheads which indicate that the buried individual most likely had the social status of a warrior or archer.

Apart from the crouched burial site, the mound was also the site of a later burial of a woman. Her grave was dug in the mound about 1,000 years after the mound was originally built. According to the ceramic receptacles in the burial furnishings, the grave dates back to the time of the cord-marked pottery culture in the Late Stone Age. "This burial site shows that long mounds remained in the countryside for hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years and continued to be used for burial purposes and worshipping ancestors," adds Jan Turek.


Faculty of Arts

Šárka Stará

09. 08. 2022