Category Archives: CZECH REPUBLIC

The ancient Golden Belt Discovered in the Czech Republic

The ancient Golden Belt Discovered in the Czech Republic

A small farmer in the Opava region in the northeast of Czechia made a unique discovery while working in a field, unearthing a golden belt dating back to the Bronze Age. The ornamented piece, which is exceptionally well-preserved, should go on display at the Bruntál museum at the end of next year.

The golden belt had been lying underground for thousands of years before being unearthed by a farmer while he was harvesting beetroots.

The founder, who wishes to remain in anonymity, discovered the ancient piece of apparel at the end of September and immediately contacted archaeologists from the Silesian Museum in Opava.

Jiří Juchelka, head of the museum’s archaeology department, says that as soon as he saw a photo of the item, he knew it was something exceptional.

The first hypothesis was that the thin golden sheet of metal, which is around 50 centimetres long, was a tiara. However, after examining the object in greater detail, experts now believe it was actually part of a belt:

“It is decorated with raised concentric circles and topped with rose-shaped clasps at the ends. We realized that it was too long to fit on someone’s head.  So we actually think it is not a tiara, but something much rarer – a part of a belt.

“Belts at the time were made of leather and this was strapped to its front part. It was crumpled when the finder found it, probably as a result of agricultural activity, so it is a miracle it has been so well preserved. It may be missing a few tiny parts, but otherwise, it is in perfect condition.”

The thin metal sheet is made mostly of gold, along with some silver and traces of copper and iron. A preliminary analysis places its origin around the 14th century BC, says Tereza Alex Kilnarová, conservator at the Museum of Bruntál.

“It is estimated to be from the middle to the late Bronze Age, but it is only a preliminary determination based on the decoration.

“Similar decorative ornaments appear in more than one prehistoric culture and therefore more detailed research and analysis of the metal is needed.

“It probably belonged to someone in a high position in society, because items of such value were rarely produced at the time. That’s why we are talking about someone more esteemed.”

While the monetary value of the belt is yet to be determined, it is already clear that the object has an incalculable cultural and historical value, says Ms Kilnarová:

“Such objects are rarely found even during excavations, so it is a really unique discovery, not only in our region but all over Czechia. I think it is safe to say that it will be one of the most valuable objects that will have on display in our museum.”

The rare item, which will become part of the Museum of Bruntál collections, will now be thoroughly examined and conserved, before going on display for the public.

The ancient Golden Belt Discovered in the Czech Republic

See the striking facial reconstruction of a Paleolithic woman who lived 31,000 years ago

See the striking facial reconstruction of a Paleolithic woman who lived 31,000 years ago

See the striking facial reconstruction of a Paleolithic woman who lived 31,000 years ago
A digital approximation of what the Stone Age woman may have looked like.

In 1881, archaeologists unearthed the skull of a human buried inside a cave in Mladeč, a village in what is now the Czech Republic. At the time, researchers dated the skull to about 31,000 years ago and classified the individual as male.

But they were wrong about the Stone Age person’s sex, a new study finds.

Now, more than 140 years later, researchers have corrected that error, revealing that the so-called Mladeč 1 skull belonged to a 17-year-old female who lived during the Aurignacian, part of the Upper Paleolithic period (roughly 43,000 to 26,000 years ago).

The team published its findings as part of a new online book called “The Forensic Facial Approach to the Skull Mladeč 1(opens in new tab)” that details how the scientists reclassified the sex of “one of the oldest Homo sapiens found in Europe.”

“When the skull was analyzed individually, the features pointed to a male,” Cicero Moraes, a Brazilian graphics expert and one of the book’s co-authors, told Live Science in an email. “But when later studies compared the skull with others found at the site, the evidence pointed to a female.”

Using information collected from the 19th-century archaeological dig, as well as forensic facial reconstructions performed by researchers in the 1930s that were limited due to a lack of technology, Moraes and co-authors Jiří Šindelář, a surveyor with a local surveying company GEO-CZ, and Karel Drbal, deputy director of the Cave Administration of the Czech Republic, used CT (computer tomography) scans to create a digitized approximation of the skull. Because the mandible (lower jaw) was missing, Moraes looked to existing data of modern-day human jaws to help fill in the blanks of what this individual might have looked like.

“We had to reconstruct the skull and for that, we used statistical data of average and projections extracted from about 200 CT scans of modern humans and from archaeological excavations belonging to different population groups, including Europeans, Africans and Asians,” Moraes said. “[This] allowed us to project missing regions of the human face.”

Once they had a complete digital image of the skull, Moraes used “a series of soft-tissue thickness markers that were spread across it,” he said. “These markers, roughly speaking, tell the boundaries of the skin in some regions of the face.

Although these markers come from statistical data extracted from living individuals, they do not cover the entire face and do not inform the size of the nose, mouth and eyes, for example.”

Researchers used a projection of lines corresponding to boundaries of soft tissue and bone structures to create facial approximation.

To help complement the data, researchers “imported CT scans of live subjects and deformed the bones and soft tissue from the CT scan to match the face being approximated,” he said. “In the case of the Mladeč 1 fossil, we deformed two CT scans, one of a man and one of a woman, and the two converged to a very similar result.”

For the book, Moraes created two digital approximations of what the individual might have looked like. But he erred on the side of caution when it came to the person’s facial expression. 

“We chose to generate the neutral face by tradition, as we are used to presenting works to specialists,” he said. “The trend will now be to present two approaches to the works, one more scientific and simple in greyscale, with eyes closed and without hair, and the other more subjective…where we generate a coloured face with fur and hair.”

While it’s not very common for archaeologists to reclassify the sex of human remains, it does happen. Moraes pointed to one such example, a skeleton discovered in Brazil known as the “Zuzu(opens in new tab)” fossil.

“That case was different; initially it was thought to be a woman, but later studies revealed [it] was actually a male,” he said.

In another case, a Viking buried with weapons in Sweden was originally thought to be male but was later revealed to be female, Live Science previously reported.

In addition to the skull, other items found at the Stone Age burial site during the original dig included stone artifacts, bone tips and several teeth. However, little else is known about the young woman who was buried there.

Archaeologists in Prague uncover the ancient 7000-year-old neolithic structure

Archaeologists in Prague uncover the ancient 7000-year-old neolithic structure

Archaeologists in Prague are currently uncovering a monumental building from the Stone Age. The so-called roundel, built around 7,000 years ago, is located in the district of Vinoř on the outskirts of the city.

Experts are hoping that the research will reveal more information about these mysterious ancient structures.

Roundels are large circular structures from the Neolithic period, that were constructed between 4600–4900 BC. That makes them the oldest monumental buildings in Europe, far older than the Egyptian pyramids or England’s Stonehenge.

One such roundel is currently being examined in Prague’s district of Vinoř. So far, research has shown that the structure is exceptionally well-preserved. Archaeologists were surprised to discover intact remains of the palisade troughs into which the central wooden structure was originally embedded.

Despite these findings, it is still unclear what purpose these structures have served, says Miroslav Kraus, who is in charge of the research:

“One such theory is that it could have been used as an economic centre, a centre of trade. It could also have been a centre of some religious cult, where rites of passage or rituals connected to the time of year were performed.

“Roundels were built during the Stone Age when people had not yet discovered iron. The only tools they could use were made of stone and animal bones.”

To date, around 200 roundels have been found all over central Europe, with 35 of them located on the territory of the Czech Republic. The roundel in Vinoř, which measures 55 metres in diameter, has an unusual floor plan with three separate entrances.

What makes its research unique is that archaeologists have uncovered the structure almost in its entirety, says Mr. Kraus:

“We have the opportunity to uncover nearly the whole structure, or rather what remained of it.  At the same time, I should note that part of the structure was revealed back in the 1980s, during the laying of gas and water pipelines.”

The so-called roundel, built around 7,000 years ago, is located in the district of Vinoř on the outskirts of Prague.
The so-called roundel, built around 7,000 years ago, is located in the district of Vinoř on the outskirts of Prague.

Thanks to the extent of the research, archaeologists will be able to take samples for dating and analyses from various parts of the original structure, says Mr. Kraus.

The so-called roundel, built around 7,000 years ago, is located in the district of Vinoř on the outskirts of Prague|Photo: Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences

“It would be great to discover something that would indicate the actual function of the building. However, it is very unlikely, since none of the previously researched roundels had revealed such information.

“It would also be great to find something that would suggest its real age. So far, radiocarbon dating of samples collected from roundels has put their age somewhere between 4900 years to 4600 BC. That is a pretty wide time span.”

The research of the Vinoř roundel is due to carry on until the end of September. Archaeologists have previously discovered a Neolithic settlement northeast of the roundel that had been used for 300 to 400 years.

The so-called roundel, built around 7,000 years ago, is located in the district of Vinoř on the outskirts of Prague.

600-Year-Old Kitchen Discovered in the Czech Republic

600-Year-Old Kitchen Discovered in the Czech Republic

Archaeologists made an unusual discovery while excavating the ruins of a medieval house in the town of Nový Jičín in the Moravian-Silesian region – a well-preserved kitchen that likely dates back to the early 15th century.

The medieval kitchen, containing a brick oven, hearth, ceramic dishes and even a wooden cooking spoon, was uncovered by archaeologists during the ongoing excavation of a wooden house from the Middle Ages in the town of Nový Jičín.

Uniquely preserved medieval kitchen unearthed north of Moravia

Pavel Stabrava from the local Novojičín Museum, says that the find was made as archaeologists were excavating the underground segments of a house that stands near the northern side of the historic centre’s town walls.

“This was a log house built on a stone foundation. Given the surrounding evidence, including the items that we found inside, we have been able to date it roughly to the period of the early 15th century.”

Based on its location, Mr Stabrava believes that the house would most likely have belonged to a burgher family, a social class equivalent to the medieval bourgeoisie.

“Since the house was located near the town walls, this would have been a less wealthy burgher family. The richest burghers would have lived in so-called ‘beer court’ houses around the town square.”

Most likely founded in the 1300s by the Lords of Kravaře, Nový (New) Jičín seems to have gradually evolved from an earlier settlement around the castle of Starý (Old) Jičín which protected the nearby Amber Road that ran from Poland.

František Kolář from the National Heritage Institute, which took part in the dig, says that the town would probably have been largely made up of wooden houses, but admits that not much is known about the medieval settlement.

Photo: Pavel Stabrava, Muzeum Novojičínska Photo: Pavel Stabrava, Muzeum Novojičínska

“This is because there haven’t been many archaeological excavations in the historical centre of the city. This is one of the first that has been made and we hope that we will be able to continue with excavations as the historic houses in the city get renovated.”

The medieval kitchenware inside the house was found in perfect condition, with the unbroken ceramic pots still containing their original lids. It seems that the items had just been washed and left to dry on the stone hearth.

Based on the evident burn marks found within the excavated house and on the surrounding historical sources, Mr Kolář believes that the items were found in this state because the inhabitants may have been forced to abandon the house in a rush.

“The working hypothesis is that the house was destroyed during the conquest of the city by the Hussites in 1427, when Hussite forces campaigned in Moravia and Silesia. Several independent historical sources mention the siege and conquest of the town, including the massacre of some of its citizens.”

The artefacts are now in the process of conservation, after which they will be stored in the depositories of the Novojičín Museum.

Pavel Stabrava hopes that further planned excavations around the exterior of the house will reveal more about the medieval town and its inhabitants.

Who’s a Good Archaeologist? Dog Digs Up Trove of Bronze Age Relics

Who’s a Good Archaeologist? Dog Digs Up Trove of Bronze Age Relics

Is this the world’s least likely archaeologist? A dog named Monty, who was out for a walk in the Czech village of Kostelecké Horky this past March, began excitedly digging in a field when he, miraculously, discovered a buried cache of rare Bronze Age artefacts.

Who’s a Good Archaeologist? Dog Digs Up Trove of Bronze Age Relics
Bronze Age artefacts were discovered by a local dog named Monty. Image courtesy of Hradec Králové Region.

The dog helped uncover 13 sickles, two spear points, three axes, and a number of bracelets, all-around 3,000 years old.

Monty’s owner, identified only as “Mr Frankota,” received a 7,860 CZK ($360) reward for turning over the artefacts, Smithsonian magazine reports.

“The fact that there are so many objects in one place is almost certainly tied to an act of honorarium, most likely a sacrifice of some sorts,” archaeologist Martina Beková, of the Museum and Gallery of Orlické Mountains in Rychnov told Radio Praha.

“What particularly surprised us was that the objects were whole, because the culture that lived here at the time normally just buried fragments, often melted as well.

These objects are beautiful, but the fact that they are complete and in good condition is of much more value to us.”

Archaeologists believe the artefacts are from the Urnfield period of the late European Bronze Age, named for the communities that were increasingly cremating their dead and burying them in urns.

A flyer for the town of Kostelec nad Orlicí’s exhibition “Journey to the Beginning of Time,” featuring Bronze Age artefacts discovered by a local dog named Monty. Image courtesy of Hradec Králové Region.

The artefacts are currently on view in the town of Kostelec nad Orlicí through September 21 as part of the exhibition “Journey to the Beginning of Time.”

The ancient objects will then undergo conservation before being put on permanent display at the Kostelec palace.

Monty’s sharp nose has left the experts wondering what else might be uncovered in the area. 


“Archaeologists have searched the surrounding fields with metal detectors,” Sylvie Velčovská, a spokesperson for the Hradec Králové Region, told Radio Praha.

Though nothing else has turned up yet, “there were some considerable changes to the surrounding terrain over the centuries, so it is possible that the deeper layers are still hiding some secrets.“

45,000-year-old Skull From Czech Cave May Contain Oldest Modern Human Genome

45,000-year-old Skull From Czech Cave May Contain Oldest Modern Human Genome

In the heart of the limestone region of Bohemian Karst in the Czech Republic stands the steep frontal walls of the Koněprusy Caves, within which researchers found the “golden horse” — what they claim are the remains of the earliest modern human in all of Europe.

The genome sequence from a skull found in the cave system is over 45,000 years old, which is roughly around the time modern humans migrated out of Africa and into Eurasia according to the study’s authors who published their findings Tuesday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The subject specimen, named Zlatý kůň (golden horse in Czech) by researchers, belonged to a population of non-African people that lived during the last glacial period whose ancestors no longer exist in the present day.

45,000-year-old Skull From Czech Cave May Contain Oldest Modern Human Genome
Lateral view of the mostly-complete skull of Zlatý kůň.

Zlatý kůň has long been the subject of scrutiny and also of at least one mix-up, thanks to a cow.

Zlatý kůň is a largely complete skull that was found with other skeletal remains in 1950 inside the cave system that is the present-day Czech Republic.

Previous observers thought that Zlatý kůň was at least 30,000 years old. Now, other ancient artefacts have been traced back to around the time when the first modern humans settled in Europe and Asia more than 40,000 years ago, according to the study’s authors.

There was “Ust’-Ishim, a Siberian individual who showed no genetic continuity to later Eurasians” and who’s DNA was around 45,000 years old, the study notes.

Frontal view of the Zlatý kůň skull.

Zlatý kůň was thought to be an ancient specimen, but radiocarbon dating showed results that dated to as recent as 15,000 years ago. But if Zlatý kůň could tell her own story she would have said that wasn’t the full picture.

“We found evidence of cow DNA contamination in the analyzed bone, which suggests that a bovine-based glue used in the past to consolidate the skull was returning radiocarbon dates younger than the fossil’s true age,” Cosimo Posth, co-lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Simply put, another researcher at a previous date used animal glue to hold together Zlatý kůň’s skull. But it wasn’t the animal DNA that intrigued researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

They were interested in the Neanderthal DNA because Zlatý kůň carried the same amount of Neanderthal DNA as Ust’-Ishim. On average, Zlatý kůň’s DNA ancestry segments were much longer.

Kay Prüfer, the study co-author from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said Zlatý kůň lived closer to the time when Neanderthals were interbreeding with modern humans.

Prüfer said in an email that Zlatý kůň does not belong to any present-day groups. One theory is Zlatý kůň’s group was wiped out by another catastrophic event.

“We speculate that a large volcanic eruption that happened in Italy (about) 39,000 years ago may have contributed to their and the European Neandertals demise,” said Prüfer.

The volcanic eruption would have drastically changed the climate in the northern hemisphere and made it extremely difficult to survive in large swaths of Ice Age Europe.

“It is quite intriguing that the earliest modern humans in Europe ultimately didn’t succeed,” study lead author Johannes Krause and director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said in a statement.

Zlatý kůň’s own demise is unclear. Researchers found hyena chew marks on her skull and then there was the cow mix-up, but DNA tests show that she beat out Ust’-Ishim by a few hundred years to be one of the oldest modern humans in Europe, according to the study’s authors.

Fifth-Century A.D. Cemetery Uncovered in the Czech Republic

Fifth-Century A.D. Cemetery Uncovered in the Czech Republic

Expats CZ reports that six graves dated to the fifth century A.D. have been found in the East Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. One of the graves was intact, according to archaeologist Pavel Horník of the Museum of Eastern Bohemia, while the others had been looted shortly after the burials took place. 

The site was discovered in 2019 by archaeologists from the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové (MVČ HK), and the first findings were just made public. The site has been dated to the fifth century AD, around the time of the collapse of the western part of the Roman Empire and the start of the Dark Ages. The era was known for migration and instability.

Graves from this time are rare. “In Eastern Bohemia, this is only the second chamber grave from the period of the migration that has been explored.

The first in the region was a grave in Plotiště nad Labem, discovered in the 1960s. It was the burial of an elderly man with a child,” MVČ HK archaeologist Pavel Horník said.

One of six graves in the newly discovered site at the village of Sendražice, just outside the city of Hradec Králové, was exceptional. It had escaped the attention of grave robbers who plundered the other five shortly after the burials took place.

“Most of the graves were looted in the spirit of those times. An exception was the grave belonging to a woman between 35 and 50 years old. This grave can be described as extraordinary in the whole of the Czech Republic,” Horník said.

The artefacts from all of the graves are being examined by experts from Masaryk University in Brno, the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, the Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Mining Museum in Příbram, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Precious and mundane items both yield secrets

The intact grave chamber, designated grave number two, contained several items of extraordinary historical and artistic quality such as four silver-and-gold clasps inlaid with semi-precious stones and a headdress decorated with gold targets.

Remnants of two different textiles were on the silver-and-gold clasps in the unlooted grave. One of the fabrics belonged to the garment fastened by the buckles, the other to a coat of cloth that covered the woman.

Remains of leather and fur were also found on the buckles, according to research by Helena Březinová from the Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The other five graves were for people between the ages of 16 and 55. While they had been looted, they still contained the remains of funeral offerings such as a short sword, knives, glass and amber beads, metal belt components, decorative shoe fittings, and antler combs.

Fifth-Century A.D. Cemetery Uncovered in the Czech Republic
Belt bockle after conservation.

From the looted grave number five, only an iron knife, beads, and a ceramic vessel survived. Samples from the vessel showed that meat had been cooked in it. The presence of certain acids and fats indicates it was the meat of a ruminant, such as a cow. There were no indications of the presence of plant-based food in any of the graves.

Diseases reveal a hard life

Arthritis was evident in the bones of one of the buried people, possibly due to age and physical exertion. Anthropologist Milada Hylmarová of Masaryk University noted significantly asymmetrical muscles on the lower limbs in one of the graves. Due to the incompleteness of the skeleton, the cause can’t be determined but it could be the result of a stroke.

In another case, traces of cancer were found on a skull and pelvis. Other ailments noted were tooth decay and damage to joints.

High-tech examinations underway

Research is continuing, and should eventually reveal a more complete picture of the lives of the people from the site. The chemical composition of the ceramic vessel could reveal whether it was manufactured in the area or came from elsewhere.

So far, only the gender of the woman in the unlooted grave has been determined with any certainty. Based on the objects found, it is assumed that a man was buried in grave number three and a woman in grave six.

DNA analysis is currently taking place in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and the Institute of Archeology and Museology of Masaryk University. This could show more about the relationships between the people and where they came from.  

Nail allegedly from Jesus’ crucifixion found in a secret chamber in a Czech monastery

Nail allegedly from Jesus’ crucifixion found in a secret chamber in a Czech monastery

A secret chamber of a monastery has been discovered with priceless Christian relics, including a nail allegedly used in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Archaeologists working in the Czech Republic’s Milevsko monastery discovered a six-inch-long piece of the nail inside a box with a 21-karat gold cross.

Archaeologists working in the Milevsko monastery in the Czech Republic unearthed the six-inch-long piece of the nail inside a box adorned with a 21-karat gold cross. The box was built between 260 and 416 AD and is inscribed with the letters ‘IR,’ which translates to ‘Jesus is King’

The box was built between 260 and 416 AD and is inscribed with the letters ‘IR,’ which translates to ‘Jesus is King.’ The hidden treasury room, according to experts, was used to conceal rare artefacts from raids by Hussite troops in the early 15th century.

Researchers excavating the scene say that they cannot confirm if the nail came from the true Cross,’ but note the discovery ‘is even greater than the reliquary of St. Maurus, reports the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

Ancient nails found in a hidden chamber of Czech monastery

The Maurus Reliquary is a large box made of gold that holds fragments from the bodies of three saints: Saint Maurus, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Timothy. 

There have also been dozens of nails uncovered that are linked to Jesus’s crucifixion, leading scientists to be skeptical about the recent find.

Jiří Šindelář, who took part in the discovery, told ČTK: ‘Because the Hussites destroyed the archive, there was no information that such a thing was here.’

The hidden treasury room, according to experts, was used to conceal rare artefacts from raids by Hussite troops in the early 15th century.

Šindelář added that the authenticity of the nail will be verified by other scientific expertise sometime next year.  Archaeologists have been working at the Milevsko monastery for several months and recently uncovered a secret passage that led to the treasury room.

The monastery was built in 1187 but was captured by Hussites in 1420 and taken over by the group’s nobility. However, before losing their place of worship, those who called the monastery home built a secret room to hide rare and priceless artefacts.

After analyzing the box through radiocarbon dating, the team found it was made with two types of wood. The larch wood, which is found in Israel’s subtropical climate, dates back between 1290 and 1394 AD.

The second sample, which is oak, was found to originate from 260 to 416 AD. A similar discovery was unearthed in October when a team found nails with ancient bone and wood embedded in them.

The nails were allegedly found in Jerusalem, in a first-century burial cave believed to be the resting place of Caiaphas, the Jewish priest who sent Jesus to his death in the Bible.

At some point after the cave was excavated in 1990, however, the nails went missing. Years later, filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici would claim to have found the nails, even claiming that they were used to crucify Jesus himself in the 2011 documentary, Nails Of The Cross.

At the time, scholars slammed the suggestion, denying that the nails Jacobovici had found were the same ones from Caiaphas’ tomb. But now an explosive new study has concluded that the nails are indeed the same ones – and that they were probably used to crucify someone too.

Lead author Dr Aryeh Shimron made the jaw-dropping find after comparing material from the nails with material from the tomb’s ossuaries – limestone boxes used to store the bones of the dead.

One of the nails allegedly found in a first-century burial cave in Jerusalem

He said: ‘The materials invading caves differ subtly from cave to cave depending on topography, soil composition in the area, the microclimate and neighbouring vegetation.

‘Consequently, caves have distinct physical and chemical signatures. The physical and chemical properties of the materials which, over centuries, have invaded the tomb and its ossuaries were investigated.

‘Our analysis clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that these materials are chemically and physically identical to those which have, over centuries, also become attached to the nails. Caiaphas’ cave was the only match for the nails out of 25 tombs tested, Dr Shimron found.

He continued: ‘We have also discovered fine slivers of wood accreted within the iron oxide rust of the nails.

‘It is well preserved and entirely petrified* the wood is therefore ancient and not a chance or man-made fake attachment to the nails. Within the rust and sediment attached to the nails, we also identified and photographed a number of microscopic fragments of bone.’