Unique Neolithic sculpture found at Czech site

Photo: Zdeněk Schenk

Archaeologists in the east Moravian town of Přerov have discovered a unique statuette which they believe dates back to the early Neolithic period. The richly ornamented torso has been hidden under ground for over seven thousand years ago.

Photo: Zdeněk Schenk
The valuable finding was discovered during initial excavations of an archaeological site near Lipník nad Bečvou, a small town on the edge of the Moravian Gate valley. It is a torso of a body, or what the archaeologists call an anthropomorphic sculpture, richly engraved with geometric ornaments. It is about 76 millimetres tall and its head and arms have been broken off.

According to the head of the archaeological research at the site Zdeněk Schenk, the statuette must be at least seven thousand years old, since it was found on the site of an early Neolithic settlement:

Zdeněk Schenk,  photo: archives de Zdeněk Schenk
“It is the site of the first farmers settling on the territory of the Czech Republic, who were represented by the so-called linear pottery culture. They settled in the Moravian Gate at the start of the Old Neolithic Period, that’s 5,000 years B.C. We know that they used to build long buildings and they traded stone, which they used for creating tools. They also made pottery for daily use, but also statuettes such as this one.”

Archaeologists are not quite sure what the statue was used for but they do agree that in the context of the Czech Republic, the finding is unique due its size and richness of ornamentation. Anthropomorphic sculptures were discovered in the Czech Republic in the past, but they were always just tiny fragments. Schenk once again:

Photo: Zdeněk Schenk
“In the European context, we call the figure Lipenský idol or Lipník idol figurine, not only because of the location where it was found but because it remotely reminds us of the idol figurines of the Vinča Neolithic archaeological culture from southeast Europe, in what is today Serbia.”

According to Mr Schenk, it is hard to estimate the value of his findings in terms of money, but he says its historic value is priceless. Speaking for himself, Mr Schenk says that the recent discovery was definitely one of the highlights of his long career in archaeology.

After undergoing further examinations, the Lipník idol will be eventually displayed at the Comenius Museum in Přerov.