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General view of the long barrow found at (Department of Archaeology UHK)

SCIENCE & TECH: Monumental Long Barrow Burial Discovered in the Czech Republic

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Recent archaeological research on the D35 Plotiště-Sadová highway in the Czech Republic has unveiled an extraordinary long barrow, shedding light on the funerary practices of the Eneolithic period. Located at the border of the villages of Dlouhé Dvory and Lípa, this monumental structure provides a unique glimpse into the social hierarchies and burial customs of the Funnel-Beaker culture, which thrived between 3800 and 3350 BC.

Rescue Excavation Reveals Funnel-Beaker Culture Burial Site

The long barrow, a significant funerary monument, was identified by an elongated trapezoidal gutter typical of such structures. Spanning an impressive 190 meters (623 feet) in length, it ranks among the longest barrows in Central Europe. Although traces of a palisade, often found in similar structures, were absent, the barrow’s dimensions and orientation—15.1 meters (49.5 feet) wide in a north-east-south-west direction—are noteworthy.

Intensive agricultural activities over the centuries have erased the above-ground evidence of the mound, which is unsurprising given the region’s farming history. However, the excavated entrance, preserved as a posthole and gutter, along with the gutter structure, provides critical insights into the barrow’s original form and construction.

 

General view of the long barrow found at (Department of Archaeology UHK)

Unveiling Central Burials: A Glimpse into the Past

Central to the barrow’s purpose are the burials it houses, believed to be of individuals of high social status. Two central burials were recorded during the excavation. The first, characterized by an internal pit construction with gutters along the sides and post holes at the corners, contained a ceramic vessel and a body lying on its left side, facing north. This grave highlights the ritualistic aspects of the burial, emphasizing the cultural significance of the orientation and offerings.

The first central burial. (Department of Archaeology UHK)

The first central burial. (Department of Archaeology UHK)

The second central burial differed in its lack of internal structure but contained a remarkable collection of five chipped stone artifacts, including arrowheads and a blade made from flint. The body, similarly positioned on its left side facing north, suggests a consistent burial practice. Interestingly, this grave was partially disturbed by a younger pit, suspected to be another burial site, though no human bones were found. Ongoing phosphate analysis aims to confirm the presence of human remains through soil phosphate levels.

              

 

Second central burial. (Department of Archaeology UHK)

Second central burial. (Department of Archaeology UHK)

Additional Graves and Broader Implications

In addition to the central burials, 27 other graves were discovered within the mound. Some featured internal constructions with post holes and gutters, akin to the central graves, suggesting a uniformity in burial practices during the Eneolithic period. Precise dating of these graves will be possible once laboratory analyses are complete, potentially offering further insights into the period’s funerary customs.

One of these additional graves, sunken into the tumulus body, yielded poorly preserved skull fragments, indicating the varying preservation states of human remains over millennia. The grave inventories from these burials align closely with similar sites in the Czech Republic and Poland, reinforcing the interconnectedness of the Funnel-Beaker culture across regions.

Cultural and Archaeological Significance

The discovery of this long barrow on the D35 highway is a testament to the elaborate funerary practices and social structures of the Funnel-Beaker culture. The monumental nature of the barrow, along with the grave goods and burial methods, underscores the community’s reverence for the deceased and their efforts to commemorate individuals of high status.

This excavation not only enriches our understanding of the Eneolithic period but also highlights the importance of rescue archaeology in preserving and interpreting our shared heritage. As analyses continue, the findings from this site promise to contribute significantly to the broader narrative of prehistoric Europe, offering a window into a world that shaped the foundations of modern civilization.

Top image: Detail of the entrance to the barrow at the D35 Plotiště-Sadová highway site, Czech Republic.             Source: Department of Archaeology UHK

By Gary Manners





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