Prehistoric settlement overview

Early Stone Age (the Neolithic and the Eneolithic)

The earliest settlement on the site is represented by the Linear Pottery culture. The finds assigned to this period include numerous ground plans of post-frame houses and a cluster of 8 graves – probably remains of the original burial ground. Radiometric (uncalibrated) data 6240 BP–6150 BP from the VERA laboratory in Vienna are available for three graves. A unique find of a group of three complete vessels near the ground plan of house D 21 is related to a settlement on the “Sutny” site at the beginning of the Early Neolithic. One of them represents a stylised rendering of the figure of a pregnant woman. The surface of the small anthropomorphic vessel is decorated with incised lines and irregularly shaped dents. Based on the decoration depicting the woman’s attire it is possible to date the vessel to the end of the later stage of the Linear Pottery culture. It is a unique find with no direct analogues, a loose parallel in terms of shape comes from the environment of the Želiezovce group from the Blatné site. As a link between the Těšetice pottery hoard and the post-frame house (D21) is highly probable, we might consider it a kind of a substitute building sacrifice.

The “Sutny” location was resettled, although with lesser density, in the period of the Stroked Pottery culture (ca. 4900/4800 BC). The features from this occupation are situated at the western edge of the flat area and between the inner palisades of the Late Neolithic roundel. Its outer palisade cuts across a pit with stroked pottery which confirms that the activities of the Lengyel people followed an earlier occupation. The margin of the settlement was used for funerary purposes as evidenced by the 6 identified burials. Uncalibrated C14 data from the VERA laboratory in Vienna is available for three graves: H2 – 5915 BP, triple grave H10 – 5970-5920 BP and H12 – 5905 BP.

The location was occupied for the third time during the Neolithic by people of the Lengyel culture. Excavation of this settlement brought the extraordinary find of the roundel which made the Těšetice site famous. Archaeologists provided evidence that the roundel was constructed by people from the Moravian Painted Pottery culture shortly after the founding of their settlement in the first half of the 5th millennium BC. The almost circular area of the roundel with a diameter of 62 m is demarcated by a more than 3 m deep V-shaped ditch, followed on the inner side by two parallel palisades. Their course is interrupted by entrances, in the same way as the ditch, situated roughly in the direction of the points of the compass. At a distance of 23 to 42 metres the space beyond the ditch is enclosed by the outer palisade, again interrupted by narrow entrances. At the time of its operation most of the roundel’s inner area was empty, i.e. without sunken features. Other similar areas delimited by a ditch were later identified elsewhere in South Moravia (Běhařovice, Němčičky, Křepice, Vedrovice, Bulhary, Mašovice, Mohelno and Rašovice), as well as in Lower Austria (e.g. Friebritz, Kamegg, Rosenburg) and in the south-west of Slovakia (e.g. Svodín, Ružindol-Borová, Bučany and other). This monumental circular architecture, dated mostly to the beginning of the Lengyel culture, is evidence that the inhabitants had a basic knowledge of geometry and astronomy. What were these features used for? They may have fulfilled several functions, such as that of assembly, cultic worship and calendar. The construction itself was of great social significance. For a certain period after completion they could have served as places reserved for ceremonies and games.

In addition to the roundel, the “Sutny” site is also remarkable for the unearthed settlement precinct, which enables us to study the relationships between the socio-cultic feature proper and its immediate environs. The area of the settlement activities reaches beyond the space delimited by the outer palisade of the roundel. We know its north-eastern and southern edge while more data on its extent is being collected with the help of geophysical prospecting. In the Late Neolithic built-up area we can distinguish, alongside standard pits, half-sunken features with a post frame – huts, pits with a regular rectangular ground plan and a flat bottom, so-called clay pits and storage pits. The elongated features with a rectangular ground plan appearing to the north and north-east of the roundel (perhaps structures with workshop characteristics) deserve closer attention. Apart from the rare ground plans there is no evidence of other residential buildings. The two half-sunken features probably had a special function given their location near the north entrance to the inner roundel. What abodes the builders and users of the Těšětice roundel lived in remains open to further research.

The burials interred in various types of settlement pits in Těšetice-Kyjovice (e.g. the remains of a child at the bottom of a storage pit) may be connected with the Late Neolithic funerary rite in Moravia. In the case of H3 and H8 they are graves situated in two different locations in formation II of the roundel ditch. Based on the find context and pottery from grave H3 they are dated to the late stage of the Lengyel culture.

While six large adjacent pits, so-called clay pits, from the area of the outer roundel and its hinterland have so far been published, their number was increased by additional features of this type during excavation. They contained numerous sets of ceramic ware including special shapes and fragments of figurative sculpture. Typical shapes are mushroom vessels, buckets, bowls on legs, small bowls, cups, ladles and lids.

Rare finds include an anthropomorphic vessel of the Svodín type reconstructed from multiple fragments found at the edge of a large settlement pit. While attempts to glue the shards together failed, two unconnected parts of the vessel were successfully assembled. The upper half from the face to the torso of the chest with full, upwards bent arms, terminated by miniature bowls, and the lower part having the form of a vessel with a flat bottom, from which torsos of the hollow legs stick out at the front. The head has a preserved domed facial section in which the arches of the eyebrows and the eyes are marked by an incised double line. Between them there is a clear gap after the broken-off protrusion imitating the nose. The mouth was probably indicated by red paint. The surviving part of the trunk is the right-hand half of the chest with a moulded breast. The whole surface of the vessel was originally painted yellow, while the colour red highlighted the inner edges of the miniature bowls – tiny hands and some details, such as the mouth and elbows. The prevalent paint on the whole bottom of the vessel’s body is yellow with infrequent traces of a dark paint. It is a gynecomorphous vessel with the arms in an adoration gesture which is characteristic of vessels of the Svodín type. By the termination of the hands in the form of tiny bowls it belongs to the more frequent variant of these vessels but the rendering of the lower part of the body has not as yet been found to have an analogue, and is therefore original. Examples of the Svodín type may represent women-adorers.

A chamber tomb with a burial of an armed man at the Na “Sutnách” II location (sector Y6) comes from the late Eneolithic – the Funnel Beaker culture. The specific find context identified by previous magnetometric prospecting (Milo – Kazdová 2008) was archaeologically verified between 2010 and 2012. Microprobe tests were followed by multidisciplinary research into the large chamber tomb, delimited by a circular perimeter trench, belonging to the Funnel Beaker culture. The tomb contained poorly preserved skeletal remains of an approximately 50-year-old man interred in a crouched position on the left side. The man was buried with objects used in archery in his time, i.e. stone wrist plates and six silicite arrowheads. A copper dagger and decorated pottery – a total of six cups, some with preserved white inlays – were added to his archery equipment. The buried individual was decorated with two golden spirals. The results of the multidisciplinary research significantly contribute to the question of social stratification at the end of the Late Stone Age. They testify to the existence of a narrow stratum of highly positioned and socially respected men in connection with the distribution and knowledge of the technology of early metallurgy.

The Bronze Age

In the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age (Hallstatt) the landscape along the Únanovka stream was densely populated. Excavations by the Institute of Archaeology and Museology provided evidence of occupation from the beginning of the Bronze Age. In relation to the construction of a water reservoir near Těšetice (1981-1982) a settlement of the Únětice culture was investigated in the eastern part of the “Sutny” location. Alongside standard sunken features the excavation unearthed two overlapping circular grooves with a diameter of 11.25 m and 25 m, which might have been socio-cultic circular enclosures. Settlement features from the Únětice culture are also present within the area of the systematic excavation in the western part of the “Sutny” location. In 1991 a mass burial of four people from the end of the Early Stone Age was uncovered there. The skeletons were identified as the remains of an adult woman (25-30 years) laid in a ritual position at the bottom of the feature, with a rich necklace from bone beads, stone and mollusc shells. A body of a young 17-year-old woman, a boy aged 13 and the corpse of a 3-month-old new-born as well as a dog skeleton were thrown immediately over the body of the adult woman. In this prehistoric period burials in settlement pits are not exceptional, including mass burials. In addition to the Únětice culture settlement, excavation between 1956 and 1958 revealed an extensive inhumation burial ground with 41 graves in the Těšetice “Vinohrady” location.

The extensive cemeteries with cremation burials interred in urns gave its name to the Urnfield period (1300-800 BC). During the construction of the reservoir two very interesting features from an earlier period, the so-called Velatice culture, were investigated. One of them is interpreted as an intentionally deposited set of 27 ceramic cups, most of them preserved intact. The presence of eight stone grain grinders indicates a connection with a ritual related to agriculture and most likely aimed at ensuring a good harvest and fertility. The grinders could have been used to prepare food for a ritual feast, when part of the food was sacrificed, for example in the form of burnt offerings, and part was consumed together with a toast by those participating in the ritual.

Iron Age (Hallstatt)

The investigated areas in Těšetice-Kyjovice “Sutny” together with the Těšetice “Vinohrady” belt of land constitute the largest known Hallstatt settlement precinct. In all of the areas the Horákov culture occupation was situated on the left bank of the Únanovka stream, the dwellings changed location within a strip along the river over a period of two hundred years (from the mid-7th century to the mid-5th century BC). Large area excavation and the overall terrain configuration indicate there could have been fields behind the dwellings. In Těšetice “Vinohrady” a burial ground consisting of nine graves with an inhumation and cremation rite was uncovered beyond the settlement. The graves contained sets of vessels and small items of grave goods. In total, 25 square or rectangular sunken featured buildings with a residential or production function, having an area of 6-35 m2, were investigated. The exceptional finds during the investigation included an entrance and a furnace, with a rare occurrence of cellars, niches, storage pits, clay banks alongside the walls and a sheltered entrance. There was evidence of white paint (whitewashing) on the above-ground sections. Two large amphora-like vessels near the bread furnace yielded remains of charred grain. Evidence of long-distance trade is provided by two graphite balls from South Bohemia. Graphite was added to the clay for making vessels.

In 2001 an inhumation burial of an adult individual in a stretched position with male grave goods was found in the “Sutny” belt of land. As the grave was reopened in the prehistoric period, the preserved grave goods are not complete. There was a massive boar’s tusk with bronze fitting at the end laid near the right hand, an iron arrowhead at the right shoulder and an iron clasp on the chest. A patina imprint after a large bronze object was identified beyond the head. The isolated location of the grave among the settlement features is rather unusual.