Neolithic structure older than Stonehenge found in Prague

(ORDO NEWS) — Czech archaeologists are excavating a monumental object of the New Stone Age. They believe that he is about seven thousand years old.

On the outskirts of the Czech capital, specialists from the Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences discovered the so-called rondela.

Let the reader not be frightened by a new word – the phenomenon itself is well known to him.

This is a prehistoric earthwork, usually a ditch (sometimes with a rampart) in the shape of a circle or ellipse. In Britain they are called henges.

If stones (menhirs) are placed along the ditch, then archaeologists will call such a henge a cromlech. The most famous cromlech is Stonehenge.

Despite the fact that British henges are better known to us, many such structures (called rondels) have already been found in central Europe.

Neolithic structure older than Stonehenge found in Prague 2
Proposed reconstruction of one of the roundels

Archaeologists have unearthed about 200 rondels, 35 of them in the Czech Republic. Their diameter varies from 20 to 130 meters. All of them were built in the 5th millennium BC.

This makes them the oldest monumental structures in Europe, much older than the Egyptian pyramids or the English Stonehenge.

The rondela, found on the outskirts of Prague, has been radiocarbon dated to 4900-4600 BC, which coincides with the age of most such finds in Central Europe. Its diameter is 55 meters.

Archaeologists discovered not only the ring ditch itself, but also holes in the ground: gutters, into which, most likely, wooden structures were inserted.

The researchers also noted that the building, which apparently towered over the rondela in the Neolithic, had three separate entrances. Earlier, a Neolithic settlement was found nearby, which existed in the 5th millennium for 300-400 years.

As a rule, rondels are found next to the so-called long houses – a special type of early Neolithic dwelling. This is an elongated building with one common room.

Of course, the question arises: if people lived in longhouses, then why did they build something from which we are left with only ring-shaped ditches?

Neolithic structure older than Stonehenge found in Prague 3
The building layer is preliminarily dated to the 5th millennium BC

The head of the excavations, Miroslav Kraus, answers this question in this way: “One of the hypotheses is that such a structure could be used as an economic center, a center of trade.

It could also be the center of some kind of religious cult, where rites or rituals related to the season were held.

Rondels (like British henges) were built in the Stone Age, when people did not yet know iron and all their tools were made of stone, bones or wood.

Digging such ditches and gutters for wooden structures and carrying out other earthworks was incredibly laborious.

And this work was not carried out to provide themselves with housing: we have already noted that the builders of the rondelle lived in other houses. Consequently, these structures were very important for the Europeans of the early Neolithic.

Scholars usually associate the rondel builders with the Linear Ware culture and its later developments. This culture, according to modern ideas, was formed on the middle Danube (including the territory of today’s Czech Republic).

The carriers of the culture of linear-band ceramics settled on fertile lands along the banks of rivers and for some reason avoided the sea coast.

For a long time, slash-and-burn agriculture was considered the main occupation of these people: they grew wheat, less often rye and barley.

However, now, thanks to archaeological finds, it has become clear that they successfully combined agriculture and animal husbandry: they bred cattle, as well as pigs and goats.

We add that two years ago, Czech archaeologists published a work in which they described their find – a wooden well, the age of which, after repeated checks, was determined to be 7.5 thousand years. Today it is the oldest reliably dated wooden structure in the world.

The authors of the work separately noted that the builders of the well were masters of their craft – most likely, they specialized in such work.

This means that in the early Neolithic communities of Europe there was an economy in which people could subsist on their specialized skills, without the obligatory subsistence economy. Usually the presence of such a “handicraft” layer in society is associated with later times.

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