The House of Rosenberg was one of the most powerful noble families in Czech history. They were the de facto rulers of Bohemia for much of the Middle Ages, but their dynasty came to an end with the death of the celebrated Petr Vok, in 1611. Now, archaeologists in South Bohemia, where the family had its seat, have come across their family tomb, and in doing so have set straight a well-known legend that surrounds them.
Agnes of Bohemia was a princess of royal blood yet she refused a politically arranged marriage – as was the order of the day – and went into a nunnery, devoting her life to caring for the ill and needy. More than seven centuries after her death she was canonized by Pope John Paul II, just days before the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The twentieth anniversary of her canonization comes amidst speculation that restorers may have uncovered her long-lost remains.
Archaeologists have finished what has been the biggest excavation ever in the Czech Republic. The work on a 40 hectare site near the city of Kolín in Central Bohemia uncovered three large Neolithic ditched enclosures or roundels, one is believed to be the biggest of its type in Europe. The function of such buildings is unclear with theories advanced that they could have served a religious purpose, used for protection during war or were facilities for trade or as a workshop. Excavation of the site began in April 2008 with around 80 workers involved. The site forms part of a bypass round the city.
Reconstruction of an area rich with monuments near the village of Valeč in West Bohemia yielded a mystery that has archaeologists and anthropologists scratching their heads. When workers renovating the Church of the Holy Trinity belonging to the noble Štampach family lost a hammer through the floor, they discovered a hidden tomb and the oddly laid remains of an unknown woman. Earlier I spoke with the head of the archaeological team, Kateřina Postránecká, who described the scene:
Archaeologists in Prague have discovered medieval Jewish tombstones at a construction site at the Národní třída station of the metro. Preliminary research suggests that the markers are not components of a burial site, but were instead taken from a former cemetery lying to the south and used as building material. The discovery of a Jewish cemetery on the site of what is to become a multifunctional building would likely be an unpleasant surprise to the building’s investors; 10 years ago, Jewish communities in the Czech Republic and even abroad demonstrated and eventually forced changes to the construction of a parking garage - not far from Národní třída - when a Jewish burial site was found on the site.
Czech palaeontologists in collaboration with their Chinese colleagues have unearthed a fossilised spider believed to be 310 million years old at a site near Rokycany, West Bohemia. Josef Pšenička from the Museum of West Bohemia who is in charge of the excavations says the find is very rare as only a few specimens of that age have been unearthed in the Czech Republic. He says scientists will be able to determine the species as the spider’s whole body including the legs has been preserved. The excavations are taking place on the site of a prehistoric forest buried in volcanic ash.
This week archaeologists revealed they had uncovered a 1,000 year-old mark engraved in an oak tree - the oldest preserved sign of its kind in the world. The exact meaning of the star-shaped mark is not known, although specialists have a good idea it could have been used to designate property. In any case, it is unprecedented for a symbol made a millennium or so ago to have survived to the present day.
Archaeologists will monitor preparations for the construction of a new commercial building near Prague’s Národní třída metro station as of Monday. As of August 3rd or 10th, they will begin conducting research in the area for the next five months. The last time archaeologists were able to investigate the site was in the 1970s, when the metro station was originally built. That study was limited; it is unclear what they may find this time. Specialists say they could uncover buried gothic cellars and possibly more.
The Hittites Empire dominated a swath of the Near East for some 600 years in ancient times. It was a vastly precocious civilisation with better tools, more modern methods of warfare, and the newfangled commodity of iron. As is the way with empires however, the Hittites collapsed and all that the great trading civilisation had recorded of its world was left in oblivion until a Czech orientalist deciphered their forgotten language and became the first to hear their words in 3000 years. This week’s Czechs in History by Christian Falvey is devoted to