Prague archaeologists discover ancient Neolithic structure


Roundels are large circular structures from the Neolithic period, which were built between 4600 and 4900 BC. This makes them the oldest monumental buildings in Europe, much older than the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge in England.

One of these roundels is currently being examined in the Vinoř district of Prague. Research so far has shown that the structure is exceptionally well preserved. Archaeologists were surprised to discover intact remains of the palisade troughs in which the central wooden structure was originally encased.

Despite these discoveries, it is still not clear what these structures were used for, explains Miroslav Kraus, who is in charge of the research:




Miroslav Kraus |  Photo: Czech Television

“One of those theories is that it could have been used as an economic center, as a trade center. It may also have been the center of a religious cult, where rites of passage or rituals related to the time of year were practiced.

“The roundels were built in the Stone Age, when people had not yet discovered iron. The only tools they could use were made of stone and animal bones.

To date, about 200 roundels have been found throughout Central Europe, 35 of them on the territory of the Czech Republic. Vinoř’s roundel, which is 55 meters in diameter, has an unusual floor plan with three separate entrances.

What makes his research unique is that archaeologists have uncovered the structure almost in its entirety, says Kraus:

“We have the opportunity to discover almost the entire structure, or rather what was left of it. At the same time, I should note that part of the structure was revealed in the 1980s, when laying gas and water pipes.




The so-called roundel, built about 7,000 years ago, is located in the Vinoř district on the outskirts of Prague |  Photo: Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences

Thanks to the breadth of the search, archaeologists will be able to collect samples for dating and analysis from various parts of the original structure, says Kraus:




The so-called roundel, built about 7,000 years ago, is located in the Vinoř district on the outskirts of Prague |  Photo: Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences

“It would be great to discover something that would indicate the real function of the building. However, this is highly unlikely, as none of the previously searched roundels revealed such information.

“It would also be great to find something that would suggest his real age. So far, radiocarbon dating of samples taken from the roundels has put their age somewhere between 4900 and 4600 BC. That’s a pretty broad time frame.

Research on the Vinoř cockade should continue until the end of September. Archaeologists have already discovered a Neolithic settlement northeast of the roundel that had been in use for 300 to 400 years.




The so-called roundel, built about 7,000 years ago, is located in the Vinoř district on the outskirts of Prague |  Photo: Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences


Berta D. Wells