Archaeologists are working with the hypothesis that they could be semi-finished products of so-called monoxyls, boats hollowed out of a single piece of trunk. If confirmed, it will be a discovery of European significance. Radek Bláha, the archeologist of the Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové, the director of the Všestary Archeopark and the archaeologist Radomír Tichý told ČTK today. Each trunk is about 11 meters long, and together they weigh about 25 tons.
According to Tiché, the organizer of the Monoxylon maritime expeditions in hollowed-out boats, the trunks apparently bear traces of being worked with ground stone tools that were used in the Neolithic and Eneolithic.
“The notches and the processing of the trunks indicate that it could be the use of adzes. It does not appear that metal tools were used to work these logs. I would almost certainly rule out natural influences. From what we know now, it could actually be a prehistoric find from 5500 to 2000 BC. If confirmed, it will be a discovery of European importance. Findings of monoxyl semi-products are exceptional in Europe,” said Tichý.
He was at the origin of all five vessels – monoxyls, which were made by experimental archaeologists of old, of which three boats were gradually used for sailing at sea. In the production of some of them, they also used replicas of Neolithic stone tools and carefully recorded the process. In addition, they have been conducting a large-scale experiment related to Neolithic stone ground drill tools for several years in the Vštěstá Archeological Park. They thus gained practical knowledge about the production and use of these tools and know how wood worked with stone tools looks.
The prevailing opinion among scientists is that unclimbed trunks are oaks. They were found in close proximity at a depth of about two meters below ground level in gravelly sand, in the deposits of a river that no longer exists today. “There was no archaeological material in the vicinity that would help date the find, so far we have nothing to grab onto. Considering the circumstances, the depth where the trunks were found, the modern age is unlikely,” said Bláha to ČTK. According to him, a closer determination of the age will only be possible after the samples have been taken, and the results will be available at the beginning of 2024 at the earliest.
The construction site is between Zborovská Street and the hospital grounds. “It is in places where, until the recent past, there were riverbeds that changed frequently. It is the area below today’s confluence of the Elbe and Orlice. Regulation under the confluence took place only at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Bláha.
One log, which has a circumference of almost four meters, is worked less. Both have a diameter of one to 1.5 meters. “One trunk is preserved in its entire circumference, but in several places there are snags about halfway up the trunk, as if someone had started working there and was going to chip off the wood material. The second trunk captures the phase when the trunk is roughly cut off to half its diameter, half of the trunk’s diameter is gone, it already resembles a boat,” said Bláha.
According to scientists, it could be two phases of monoxyl production, the third is missing – the removal of wood material from the interior of the future boat. “Monoxyl semi-finished products are only one of the options we work with. We are at the very beginning of the investigation, we still have more questions than answers,” said Bláha.
Two finds of completed monoxyls are known from the Hradec Králové region, one was discovered in the 1920s during the regulation of the Orlice River on the edge of Hradec Králové in a gravel-sand layer, and the other in the Elbe river deposits near Jaroměř. Scientists do not yet know their age. “If our hypothesis is confirmed that these are monoxyl semi-finished products, we would obtain a series from the beginning of work to the final product. If it were confirmed that these are monoxyl semi-products, it would be a find of European significance,” said Bláha.
Monoxyls were used in the territory of the Czech Republic from prehistoric times until the 19th century, in modern times as simple fishing boats. There are several finds of completed monoxyls in the Czech Republic.