Project on Preservation of Cultural Heritage

The project “ARCHAEOLOGY ON D47: Project on Preservation of Cultural Heritage” will deal with archaeological activities on the D47 construction site. The Archaeological Centre Olomouc was, as the principal investigator, authorised to organize, coordinate and supervise all archaeological activities. The additional investigator is the National Institute for Preservation of Cultural Heritage - Regional office Ostrava - Archaeological Section Opava. However, more institutions will be involved in the project, inclusive of several museums, the Academy of Sciences, and Czech and foreign universities.

The D47 motorway crosses a territory which has been continually settled since the Paleolith.

One of the most significant archaeological finds is the Venus of Petřkovice, more than 23,000 years old, discovered on the hill Landek together with other remains of a large settlement from the period of later Paleolith and Neolith, an important Slavic hill-fort and a medieval castle near the confluence of the Odra and Ostravice Rivers where a sword from the Bronze Age was found. This leads to a presumption that this was a site of an old ford.

Other sites may be expected in the Přerov region, in particular near Bělotín, where several mysterious fortified formations were discovered nearby the planned construction. The lowland of Moravian Gateway and the Ostrava basin, a traditional join of the European North and South, belong to a territory rich on archaeological sites, which was once exploited by many prehistoric populations, merchants and military campaigns. It also formed an important part of the Amber Trail joining the Adriatic and the Baltic Sea.

The project will be implemented in several stages. The first preparation stage is very demanding and involves a non-destructive survey of the motorway route. This survey includes aerial photography, geophysical survey, surface collection as well as a profound study of written sources, literature and maps. Results of this stage have been summarized in the Monitoring Study mentioning around 40 possible sites. It is obvious, however, that more sites may yet be discovered. When a site with archaeological finds is located, an Occupation Report on advance rescue excavations - on a site marked “Z” - is compiled, and various permissions, including permission for entry, must be obtained. The aim of such rescue excavations is to investigate known archaeological sites before the actual construction is launched. It will have a positive effect on both the quality of excavations and the construction itself.

The second implementation stage involves actual rescue excavations (ZAV) in accordance with the agreement with the construction investor, as stipulated in the Act on National Care of Historical Monuments no.20/87 Coll., as amended. More archaeologists, and students as well, will be involved in the project. They will not only participate in excavations on site but they will also process results of their work in a form of articles, essays or dissertations. All participants may then continue in their work on an international level – exchange their experience, participate in international conferences, or international grants and projects.

At the same time, teams of experts from several institutions will be formed, based on increased expert cooperation among prominent Czech and foreign organizations and universities from e.g. Austria, Germany, Great Britain, and Spain. These teams will work together on individual sites or zones of interest. Common excavating techniques including documentation-making has been fixed as well as a unified form of all reports including reports on finds. All required expert reports will be assigned centrally. Interdisciplinary cooperation will allow a multilateral assessment of obtained results. Techniques of environmental archaeology will help to cross the limits of material culture and examine the environment of a prehistoric man.

It is essential to provide all excavation teams with necessary material and technical equipment and create sufficient background by building an archaeological base on the route, where laboratory treatment and preliminary evidence of finds will be conducted. It is also necessary to discuss their following placement in museums.

The Standing Expert Archaeological Committee (SOAK) for D47 will monitor the expert level of investigation. It consists of prominent Czech archaeologists from the Academy of Sciences, universities and museums. Regular inspection and consultation days will be held on the construction site where both Czech and foreign experts will be present.

Accompanying archaeological activities form an integral part of the project, including regular updated monitoring of excavations. Partial results of the research will be publicised online, on press conferences and in media. A film document on the development of the project from its very beginning is also a part of the project. Regular conferences, or workshops, will be held, summarising the actual research, as well as seminars and theme conferences. The project will initiate a formation of an international group – company for research on motorways and linear structures (to meet other ZAV teams from the Czech Republic and other countries, exchange experience, organize conferences and seminars, publish books, etc.).

The entire project will culminate in a final publication summarising all obtained results of the research on prehistoric and medieval development on the vast territory of the construction. In the end, an international conference will be held which will assess all results. An intended touring exhibition should acquaint the public with concrete archaeological finds.

At the same time, a parallel project called „Porta Moravica" is being formed to help find financial resources for the above-mentioned accompanying activities. The aim of this project is to compile a picture of the oldest historical development of the entire region. The first step is to map archaeologically the territory surrounding D47.

The entire construction is situated in a region of ancient settlements and it is obvious that the construction of D47 will cross dozens of archaeological sites. Fieldwork is planned to take 5 years at least; together with the assessment of results, it will take 8 years. Our key objective is to do our best to rescue archaeological monuments in danger and eliminate uncontrollable destruction of this part of our disappearing cultural heritage.