Carpenters make replica of 7,000-year-old wooden well using prehistoric tools

The discovery of a 7,000-year-old well in Czechia’s Pardubice region six years ago, thought to be the oldest surviving man-made wooden object in the world, thrilled excavators. Now experimental archaeologists from the Všestary Prehistoric Archaeology Park near Hradec Králové are making a copy of the well, using prehistoric tools and methods, that will be displayed alongside the original.

Photo: Kateřina Procházková,  East Bohemian Museum in Pardubice

The Neolithic well, found in the summer of 2018 on the site of a planned motorway near the village of Ostrov, continues to amaze archaeologists – not only because of its immense age, but also because it was found in a remarkably good condition considering its age and the fact that it is made of wood. Radomír Tichý, the head of the Všestary Archaeology Park, says they still haven’t quite gotten over it.

“We were very lucky thanks to the exceptionally favourable conditions for preservation. We were able to see traces of wood workmanship that it would have been extremely hard to find otherwise. The discovery was so unbelievable that we’re still beaming over it.”

The well will be on display as part of an exhibition at the Museum of East Bohemia in Pardubice from May. But in order to give some context and show the difficult process by which it was made, a team of archaeologists is now attempting to create a faithful and complete replica, using only tools and methods that were available at the time. This presents some unique challenges, says Radomír Tichý, who, as well as heading the Archaeology Park in nearby Všestary, also works at the Department of Archaeology at the University of Hradec Králové.

Radomír Tichý  (left) | Photo: Kateřina Procházková,  East Bohemian Museum in Pardubice

“We have to make all the tools ourselves. Getting the materials to make them is difficult because nowadays these natural materials, in the quality that we need to make the tools, are quite rare.”

There are also other reasons why making such a well nowadays is arguably even harder than it was for our Neolithic ancestors, says Tichý.

“They were still living in the Early Stone Age and didn’t have anything else to compare it to. But we today can compare the tools to our modern machines, we already have that comparison within us and we can’t help making it. Whether that’s good or not, that’s just the way it is.”

Both the replica and the original well will be on display as part of the exhibition Exit 91 / Excavations at the Museum of East Bohemia in Pardubice, which will show the findings of archaeological excavations on road construction sites, from May 8. Tomáš Zavoral, head of the archaeological department at the Pardubice museum, says that he is thrilled people will be able to see one of the most important discoveries of recent times by Czech archaeologists, as well as the chain of production, from cutting down the tree to completing the well.

“It’s great that someone is looking after it, that something is happening with it, and that we are showing it to the public. It’s better if the discovery is able to somehow live and be out there in the world rather than collecting dust in an archive somewhere.”

The Exit 91 / Excavations exhibition will remain open until January 4, 2026.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Naďa Kubínková | Source:
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