Archaeologists digging near Prague have discovered the remains of a Stone Age structure older than Stonehenge and even the Egyptian pyramids: an enigmatic complex known as a rondel. Nearly 7,000 years ago, during the late Neolithic or New Stone Age, a local farming community may have gathered in this circular building, though its true purpose is unknown.
The unearthed roundel is large – about 180 feet (55 meters) in diameter, or about as long as the The Leaning Tower Of Pisa is tall, Radio Prague International reported (opens in new tab). And while “it’s too early to say anything about the people building this roundel”, it’s clear that they were part of the Ironed pottery culture (opens in new tab)which flourished between 4900 BC and 4400 BC, Jaroslav Řídký, a spokesman for the Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IAP) and an expert on rondelles in the Czech Republic, told Gadgetmasti in an email. -mail.
Miroslav Kraus, director of the excavation in the Vinoř district on behalf of the IAP, said revealing the structure could give them an idea about how the building will be used. Researchers first learned about the existence of the Vinoř roundel in the 1980s, when construction workers were laying gas and water pipes. Radio Prague International (opens in new tab), but the current excavation has revealed the entirety of the structure for the first time. According to Řídký, his team has so far recovered pottery fragments, animal bones and stone tools in the trench.
carbon dating organic remains from this circular excavation could help the team pinpoint the date of the structure’s construction and possibly link it to a Neolithic settlement discovered nearby.
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The people who made Stroked Pottery wares are known for building other medallions in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, Řídký said. Their sedentary farming villages — located at the intersection of present-day Poland, East Germany, and the north of the Czech Republic — consisted of several longhouses, large, rectangular buildings housing 20 to 30 people each. But the “knowledge of building medallions crossed the boundaries of different archaeological cultures,” noted Řídký. “Several communities built rondelles all over central Europe.”
Rondels were not known ancient features until a few decades ago, when aerial and drone photography became an important part of the archaeological toolkit. But now archaeologists know that “rondelles are the oldest evidence of architecture in all of Europe”, Řídký told Radio Prague International earlier this year.
Seen from above, medallions consist of one or more wide, circular trenches with multiple openings that acted as an entrance. The inner part of each medallion was likely lined with wooden posts, perhaps with mud plastering the holes, according to Radio Prague International. Hundreds of these circular earthworks have been found all over central Europe, but they all date from a span of only two or three centuries. While their popularity in the late Neolithic is apparent, their function is still up for debate.
In 1991 the earliest known medallion was found in Germany, also corresponding to the Stroked Pottery culture. Called the Goseck Circle, it is 246 feet (75 m) in diameter and had a double timber stockade and three entrances. Because two of the entrances correspond to sunrise and sunset during the winter and summer solstices, one interpretation of the Goseck Circle is that it functioned as a sort of observatory or calendar, according to a 2012 study in the journal Archaeological Documents of the American Anthropological Association (opens in new tab).
Řídký preferred a more general interpretation of the Vinoř structure, noting that “rondelles probably combined several functions, the most important of which was social ritual,” he told Gadgetmasti. It is likely that rondelles were built for gatherings of large numbers of people, perhaps to commemorate events important to them as a community, such as rites of passage, astronomical phenomena, or economic exchange.
Since the people who built rondelles only had stone tools to work with, the dimensions of these rondelles are quite impressive – usually about 60 meters in diameter, or half the length of a football field. But little is known about the people themselves, as very few tombs have been found that could provide more information about their lives seven millennia ago.
After three centuries of popularity, it disappeared around 4600 BC. suddenly out of the archaeological finds Archaeologists don’t know yet why the medallions were abandoned. But since more than a quarter of all medallions found so far are located in the Czech Republic, future research, similar to the excavation at Vinoř, may eventually help solve the mystery of the medallions.
Originally published on Gadgetmasti.