Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire

Photo: Czech Television

Czech archaeologists have announced a significant discovery in South Moravia, on what used to be the territory of Great Moravia. Working at a location in Staré Město near the town of Uherské Hradiště, they unearthed seven graves containing skeletal remains and jewellery dating back to the second half of the ninth century.

Photo: Czech Television
The discovery of the graves near the town of Uherské Hradiště took archaeologists from the Moravian Museum in Brno by surprise, as the site had already been extensively researched in the past.

The graves were unearthed at a location not far from Veligrad, one of the most important centres of Christianity on the territory of Great Moravian Empire.

Luděk Galuška is the head of the Centre for Slavonic Archaeology at the Moravian Museum in Brno:

“The location is called Na Valách and already in the second half of the twentieth century more than 1,400 graves were discovered there. After 1990 we uncovered another 500 graves.

“Today, we are registering more than 2,000 graves at this location, which makes it the biggest burial site from the times of Great Moravia.”

The Great Moravian Empire was the first west-Slavic state to emerge in the Central European area on what is now the territory of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Serbia.

It was founded around the year 830 by the Slavic leader Mojmír and was the first joint state of the Slavonic tribes that became later known as Czechs and Slovaks.

The seven graves that were just discovered there contain skeletal remains in various degrees of preservation. The size and length of the bones, as well as other objects in the graves, suggest the bodies belonged to girls or young women, most likely members of noble families. Luděk Galuška again:

Luděk Galuška,  photo: Taz,  CC BY-SA 4.0
“We also found female jewellery in each of the graves, earrings crafted by granulation. It is the most typical female jewellery from the era of Great Moravia. Most of them are silver and some of them are gilded.

“Just yesterday we uncovered a grave with a small girl who had two sets of earrings next to her head. The gilded jewellery suggests that she came from the highest circles of Great Moravian society.

“Her father was most likely a significant nobleman, probably a contemporary of duke Rostislav and Svatopluk, and even archbishop Methodius. So we can date the graves to the second half of the 9th century, to the most significant era of Great Moravia.”

The newly discovered skeletal remains will be scrutinised by anthropologists and undergo further examination, including DNA analysis, before becoming part of the collections of the Anthropos Institute of the Moravian Museum in Brno.

Meanwhile, construction of a new Cyril and Methodius Centre is underway at the site of the discovery in Staré Město. The centre for archaeological research should open its doors to the public in June of next year.