Archaeologists unearth divine thrones, thousands of Neolithic and Bronze Age objects in Moravia

Rare jewels, unexplained burial sites and divine thrones are among the objects uncovered during a four-year-long dig near the Moravian city of Přerov. Archaeologists found new settlements from a wide range of pre-historic periods, including the Neolithic and early Bronze Age.

Excavations began around Přerov in 2017, ahead of the planned construction of a motorway, and finished this June. More than 4,700 objects and 150 burial sites were discovered in the area, archaeologists say, filling over 1,100 boxes that will now be analysed in greater depth.

Among the objects are parts of enthroned god statues, which featured prominently among the art of the late Stone Age Neolithic period.

Dr Jaroslav Peška is the director of the Archaeological Centre in Olomouc which was in charge of the excavations.

Photo: Archeological Center in Olomouc

“I have to say that our archaeological digs in the area exceeded our expectations. We now know that at least three pieces of enthroned god statues were found around Přerov.

“One is from the Linear Pottery culture period, which is the name for the oldest farmers who settled on our territory sometime around 6,000 BCE. We were able to date the throne by its decorations, which carry signature features of that period.

“The two other thrones are also from the Neolithic period but are a bit younger. We believe they are connected to the Lengyel culture (5,000 to 3,400 BCE). This culture’s art in the Moravian region is known for its richly painted pottery. In one case, we managed to also find a leg belonging to the god who sat on the throne, which is quite rare.”

Dr Peška says that the local cultures of the Neolithic period often depicted their gods in a sitting, enthroned posture. Usually, these were female figures, but could also feature gods of a male gender as more complete finds in nearby Hungary have shown.

Another rare find was a fortified settlement from the period of the eight-millennia-old Linear Pottery culture. Dr Peška says that the site features a ditch and a palisade.

“The presence of such defensive structures is known for the period, but they seem to be quite rare. This settlement could therefore be among the top four or five most-interesting finds in Moravia.

“If we are able to identify any connections between the enthroned deity fragment and the settlement, this site could become quite special.”

Photo: Archeological Center in Olomouc

Another fortified settlement belonging to the Bronze Age Věteřov culture was discovered through a geo-physical survey conducted just before the dig. The fort lies on the shore of the Becva River and is delineated by a semi-circular v-shaped ditch that runs around one side of the river.

Also worth noting is the discovery of unusual burial sites in the area of the Neolithic Lengyel culture excavations. Dr Peška says that they resemble long ditches rather than graves and are filled with large amounts of pottery, an archaeological first as far as excavations in Moravia are concerned, he says.

Now that the dig is over, archaeologists are setting up a register of the thousands of recovered objects and ensuring that they remain preserved.

Asked about which projects the Archaeological Centre in Olomouc is particularly excited about for the future, Dr Peška says that his team plans a joint excavation of Bronze Age burial mounds in Montenegro this year, together with members of the German Archaeological Institute.