Registered Office University College London, Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY




          On 16th January 2003 John Coles, President of the Society 1978 – 82, was given a Gold Medal by the London Society of Antiquaries. The occasion was marked by him giving a lecture on his on-going projects on Swedish rock art which was entitled “Chasing the Shadows”. The photograph, taken by Bryony Coles, shows him receiving his medal from Rosemary Cramp.

John Cruse


Figure 1
Figure 1. Site plan showing Neolithic ‘Rondel’ longhouses, early bronze age Únítice cemetery, early Slavic house and other features at Dolní Berkovice.

          The excavations at Dolní Berkovice, Distr. Mìlník, resulted from a decision by the Austrian Danzer Company, manufacturers of fine wood veneers, to build a production centre on six hectares of land beside the River Labe in the Czech Republic. In accordance with Czech law the excavations were funded entirely by the developing company. The Institute of Archaeology, Prague, took responsibility for the excavations and astaff member directed the operations but the site work and post excavation technical production was sub-contracted to a private company.
          This area of Bohemia along the banks of the Labe is shown to have been continually and intensively used for at least the past five and a half thousand years from the late Neolithic to the early medieval period (Figure 1). Within the excavation area over 1,400 individual features were excavated but the limits of the occupation were not reached. The prehistoric land use pattern shows signs of being subject to lateral settlement drift along the riverside. As the High Mediaeval period (13 th and 14 th cent.) developed the settlement pattern became fixed in the landscape much as it is today.

          The ‘Rondel’ henge monument is formed by two oval post trench rings, one within the other, two metres apart, with the diameter of inner ring being 50x44m. Posts of 0.2m diameter are set continuously along the trenches and may have been replaced on more than one occasion. There are four entrances, north, south, east and west. The east and west entrances appear to be plain and simple gaps in the post trench, whereas the north and south entrances, while still retaining a certain simplicity, are architecturally more firmly established with each terminal turning inwards at right angles for a short distance.
          There is no indication of any related external or internal structure, which may be due to erosion of the contemporary land surface. However, in one of the grave pits of the Early Bronze Age cemetery two lengths of columnar basalt, over 1m in length, had been placed over the top of the grave fill. This rock type is completely foreign to the area and its nearest source is over 30km away. The two columns cannot be lifted by a single person (unless he is named Obelisk) and would not have been easily transported except by rafting up the river from their source. Expending time and energy in transporting a heavy difficult cargo merely to dump it over an otherwise indifferent grave does not appear logical, but to take this trouble in obtaining marker or sighting stones for a ritual monument like the ‘Rondel’ may be acceptable. Later, as mere lumps of rock, not easily moved, they may have remained in place long after the ‘Rondel’ fell into disuse and been re-used 2000 years later in the Únìtice grave.
          Dating the ‘Rondel‘ is problematical since apart from a few (residual) sherds of Neolithic pottery very little else was recovered from the post trenches and a date in the early Eneolithic could be just as appropriate. However almost all of the pits that are cut by the trenches give a consistent Bronze Age date.
          Unlike neighbouring countries in Central Europe (PAST 40) Neolithic monuments of this type are a relatively new phenomenon in the landscape of the Czech Republic. Also notable is the fact that it was only discovered during rescue excavations and not by aerial photography, which is becoming increasingly preferentially funded and relied upon in recent years for the forward planning of cultural landscapes.
          Six Late Neolithic long houses were revealed in the excavations, although the survival of structural evidence was very variable. Two of them, however, possess most of their 18m long trapezoidal ground-plans, which are both orientated north to south, with their wider 10m end to the south and narrower 5m end to the north. There is little evidence for room divisions and internal fittings, but occasional post settings give some indication that they did exist. One has a ground plan defined by lines of individually cut post pits and the other by two beam trenches. Otherwise in most other respects they are almost identical. Close by, a Late Neolithic cremation pit containing a woodworking tool kit of polished stone implements was found. The kit comprises of an adze, four different sizes of chisel and two flint blades. They may have originally been contained in a plain undecorated pottery vessel, fragments of which were also found in the top of the pit.

          Several graves grouped at the northern edge of the excavation area are considered to be from the early part of the Eneolithic due the characteristic treatment of the body and orientation of the grave. The bodies are laid on their left side with the head to the west and their legs, which were most likely bound in position, tightly folded up against the chest.
          At present the earliest find of this period is a small collection of unbroken pottery vessels placed in the middle deposit of a small pit. The vessels have a very distinctive style with tall delicate strap handles that can be closely dated to the Baden culture of the Middle Eneolithic (3350 to 3000 BC).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Rivnác culture house

          Two houses of the Rivnác culture (3000 to 2850 BC) are represented by square (4x4m) sunken floors. The construction is of timber frame with a post pit at each corner (Figure 2). Along the inner edge of the floor area are lines of stake holes for the wattle and daub walls. Open-hearth fireplaces were centrally located on the floor. In one of the huts there was considerable evidence relating to a chipped stone industry using quartzite river cobbles. There were also an unusually high number of bone artefacts, polished points, awls, needles, a large button disc and a great quantity of splintered bone waste material some of which shows secondary working and polish. Whether this is evidence for a domestic cottage industry or a specialist craft workshop cannot yet be determined.
          Two burials of the Rivnác culture were also identified, one of which appears to have been re-opened two hundred and fifty years later, but it is not possible to determine if anything was removed. The grave pit had a set of four post pits around the edge suggesting that for some time it may have been kept open within a mortuary hut lending the contents accessible for rituals. The distribution of the bones that were found in the bottom of the grave pit showed them to be disarranged. Also certain parts that one would expect to survive, such as teeth, were missing. A secondary intrusive pit reached the bottom of the grave in the centre at which point an in situ pottery vessel appears to have been crushed flat. A new bowl of the Bell Beaker culture was placed at the bottom of the secondary pit on top of the crushed one and the pit was then refilled. A further, larger bowl of the same culture was left on the side of the intrusive pit as it was back filled. This grave opening therefore does not appear to be robbery since nothing appears to have been taken and two new complete vessels were inserted.

Figure 3   Figure 4
Figures 3 and 4. Corded Ware burials with canine teeth and shell-disc necklaces around head and neck.

          The Corded Ware culture of the Late Eneolithic follows immediately after the Rivnác culture. At present we can only identify them on the site by four widely dispersed burials. In one, a juvenile was uncharacteristically orientated with the head to the north. The rest were characteristically positioned on the left-hand side with the head pointing to the east and with slightly bent knees. Two were embellished with strings of pierced dog canine teeth and small bones carved to a similar shape. These were strung into long necklaces around the neck and in one example, around the head. In addition long necklaces made from freshwater mollusc shell carved into tiny discs and pierced are strung in a double loop around the neck, falling across the chest (Figures 3 and 4). Whether this personal ornament is part of the every day, best, or funerary wear, is not possible to determine. Large bi-conical amphora decorated on the upper half of the vessel with an incised filled triangular motif and with two opposing horizontal pierced lugs on belly, accompany three of the burials, including the juvenile. None of the vessels appear to be worn or damaged and they may be specially made for the occasion.
          We know that people of the Bell Beaker culture (2500 to 2300 BC) were present on the site from the pottery left in the re-opened Rivnác culture grave.

          The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of the Únìtice culture which is well represented by a cemetery of ordered graves clustered to the south-east of the ‘Rondel’ and slightly overlying one of the Neolithic long houses. The burials almost all appear to conform to the practices of the culture. The bodies are placed on their right side with heads to the west (more frequent is, however, the orientation to the south) and the knees are drawn up, but not tightly, to the chest. The deceased is often provided with food (animal bones) and drink (pottery vessels) and the body is clothed or wrapped. Accessories of ornamental copper alloy metalwork are common, usually pins, which are found in the region of the upper chest and lower neck. Copper alloy rings are commonly found positioned at the ears, but not low around the ear lobe. Occasionally additional larger rings are found slightly higher and further to the back of the head, which all suggests some form of head dress fitting, perhaps a face veil, rather than actual earrings. Copper alloy wire coils form tubes that are sometimes found in a position to suggest they enclosed bunches of hair similar to the dreadlocks and sometimes they form necklaces around the throat. In contrast to the Corded ware culture, the pottery accompanying Únìtice burials usually shows evidence of damage or wear, indicating that only a fairly useless vessel is being lost to the grave.
          A common feature of the grave pit structure is the use of stone and some pits are lined and occasionally floored with stone blocks and slabs. Judging from the fill within the grave pit, some graves have been sealed with stone cairns at the surface. Evidence for cairns is found in those graves, which have been re-opened. The intrusive pits, when refilled, may contain massive blocks of stone, generally too large to have been removed from the grave lining, which are most likely derived from some cairn covering. Large blocks, such as the fragments of columnar basalt described above, may be thought of as a kind of deterrent to such grave disturbances. Many burials possess just a few odd blocks placed in the grave, often close to the body on either side of the hips.
          Several of the Únìtice graves were opened and disturbed, but some have clearly had their skeletal contents moved around before being finally filled. Sometimes metalwork has not been removed, but skeletal body parts, commonly head, jaw and teeth parts are missing. Judgement is therefore not an easy task when considering the possibility of grave robbing, For example, one of the graves in the Únìtice cemetery had been opened completely and back-filled with massive blocks of stone, presumably the original cairn. Mixed with the stone and earth were occasional scraps of human bone, and in the central area, high in fill, was a gold headdress ring. The second of the set was found shortly afterwards at one side and lower than the first. On reaching the base of the grave pit the remnants of a disturbed skeleton were found, with some leg bones still almost in an articulated position, but broken in antiquity, and little else. If this was robbed for the metalwork then it was a strange thief who threw back in the most valued metal of all.
          In the Middle Bronze Age (1550-1300 BC) pottery from cultural and storage pits indicate occupation during this period. One such pit has a group of miss-fired, large pottery jars from a failed kiln firing, dumped into its primary fill. In the Late and Final Bronze Ages (1300-750 BC) settlement activities were also in evidence.

          There is little evidence for the Germanic tribes that occupied this area of the Roman frontier, but an early bronze fibula of Germanic manufacture was found in one of the cultural pits. Several pottery fragments be-longing to the later end of the period were also found.

          The earliest Slavic period settlement in Bohemia is named the Prague culture, whose settlements are usually found in small hamlets composed of a few sunken floor huts. At Dolní Berkovice there is only a single hut.
          Already the Danzer factory is expanding and a further large area of river frontage will be developed this year. The Czech Republic has quite large archaeological resources but rapid development increasingly limits them and tests the system of archaeological heritage management. Unfortunately the Czech government has still to realise the value of the archaeological heritage to the tourist industry and the acquisition of much needed foreign currency.

Patrick Foster, Institute of Archaeology, Prague



Figure 1
Figure 1. Hair dressing scene from Uan Amil.

          The 2002 study tour to the Fezzan of south west Libya was organised in conjunction with Andante Travel. It was lead by Prof David Mattingly of the University of Leicester with Isabella Sjostrom as the tour manager for Andante. Society President Prof. Graeme Barker (University of Leicester) joined us as a guide lecturer. Fourteen society members supported the trip and I was the lucky student to be awarded the free place.
          On arriving at our hotel in Tripoli we had two hours to ourselves before visiting various sites around the old city. Little were we to know that these few hours would be the last free time we had before returning home a week later. Our trip commenced with a visit to the arch of Marcus Aurelius. The restored arch is one of the few Roman remains within the city. It is impressive though now overshadowed by surrounding buildings. The imported marble is carved with designs such as Roman imperial armour and a barbarian family in chains. The arch was used as a cinema in the early days of the twentieth century. The former British consulate is nearby. A top room provided a vantage point for nineteenth century ambassadors to spy on ships arriving in the harbour. We wandered through the old town, along narrow streets following the old Roman pattern. In the early evening people were shopping and going about their business. For foreign visitors like ourselves this was pleasant as we were left unmolested by touts or salesmen unlike in other countries. The evening finished off with dinner in the revolving restaurant, a circular cupola on top of a tower block.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Hunting scene from In Ehed.

          The next day our trip began in earnest with a flight to the Fezzan city of Sabha. Our four wheel drives were waiting for us on arrival. One desert vehicle looked the part with its goatskin waterbottle swinging from the roof rack. Desert travel writers have often mentioned these and I thought they were bags made from goat leather. This waterbottle however was a whole goat. It was suspended from the roof-rack by the four legs. A loop of cord prevented leakage from its rear end and the bound up neck was the waterspout. Later in the trip I helped a driver decant some water the colour of brown soup into his mug.
          We drove for a few hours west to Germa along the Wadi el Ajal. This was the centre of the Garamantian civilisation two thousand years ago. One of the clues to its success in such an arid climate is illustrated by a pit. This is an access shaft to a tunnel which channelled water from the ridge line to the centre of the wadi for cultivation. This foggara, as the irrigation system is known, is one of 600 water channels and 100,000 shafts providing a sophisticated method of irrigation.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Milking scene from Wadi Tisksatin.

          Old Jarma has been recognised as Garama, the Garamantian capital. The mud brick buildings seen today are from the medieval and modern period. The historic town lies at depths of up to 5m below the surface. David Mattingly took us through the excavations of first Mohammed Ayoub in the 1960s, then those of Charles Daniels in 1969 and finally the work undertaken by the Fezzan Project in 1997- 2001 in which he was closely involved.
          Overlooking modern Germa is Zinkekra promontory on the ridge line. It is the type site for early Garamantian settlement (with earliest occupation during the first millennium BC) and major walls were built for use as a defensible area. The ridge spur contains rock art, peckings of animals such as giraffes, bovids and Barbary sheep.
          The next day we set off to explore the desert and do some dune bashing to explore two of the Dawada lakes in the Edeyen Ubari. These lakes are in the middle of the dune fields and look just like a film makers idea of a typical oasis. The first lake formerly held a settlement but was abandoned in the mid 1980s. The lake itself is now dry possibly due to the watertable lowering. Date palms surround it and there are the remains of mud brick houses. The second lake we encountered was even more stunning, a blue lake nestling at the foot of towering dunes surrounded by a ring of date palms. We joked about finding a souvenir stall in the desert and were surprised to discover two Tuareg men sitting by a blue cloth selling pendants, ear rings, spoons, engraved letter knives and trinket boxes made from camel leather. They seemed to be making a good business from us and when a second party of four wheel drives arrived their bartering recommenced.

Figure 4
Figure 4. African buffalo (Bubalus antiquus) from Wadi Tiksatin.

          We were now beset by delays. Returning from the dunes a vehicle lost an exhaust which needed repairing and then later our kitchen vehicle had a flat tyre. We ended up camping in the dunes near Al Uwaynat setting up tents in the dark. It could have been a soulless camp except our drivers had collected firewood and had a pleasant fire going.
          Next morning Al Uwaynat was found to be out of petrol, so after refreshing sweet mint teas in a café we changed plan and drove to Ghat near the Algerian border. The rock formations viewed from the road were impressive, especially the Palace of Djinns with erosion features on the summit resembling Egyptian sphinxes. Ghat petrol station was a scene of chaos with it being the only petrol for miles. Locals were pushing their empty cars into place but we were able to fuel up without too much of a delay. Our planned route was to climb over the Tadrart Acacus by the Takhakhouri Pass and enter the Wadi Teshuinat on the eastern side of the massif. We travelled using wadis as tracks before climbing high onto the sand piste. This area is disputed territory with Algeria and in the middle of nowhere we came across a military outpost. The soldiers were pleased to see our vehicles and wanted to know if we had cameras. They were after someone with a Polaroid camera so they could have an instant picture of themselves. Wherever we stopped to let the other vehicles catch up at our feet would be lithic and pottery scatters. People have used this route for movement for thousands of years.

Figure 5
Figure 5. Giraffe panel from El Awrer.

          Wadi Teshuinat is the largest valley in the area and is the location of a great number of rock art sites. In a very hectic half day we saw nine sites! Uan Afuda, a large spectacular natural cave with a huge arched entrance, contains some faded paintings on one wall. The importance of the site was described by Prof. Barker, as excavations revealed that the inhabitants were living with Barbary sheep, having them penned up and feeding them grains (Late Akakus phase 8935-8000BP). Uan Mahuggiag is another important site. Paintings cover the shelter wall whilst excavations immediately in front provided pollen samples revealing progressive environmental degradation between 7000 – 4000 BP, a time period corresponding to an increase in pastoralism.
          Two more sites showed superb paintings. The first of these was Uan Amil, a small cave containing the famous hair dressing scene (Figure 1). One crouching figure’s hair is being dressed by a seated figure. Adjacent to this scene two figures are to be seen dressing a third in a long cloak. For these reasons the art panel is often referred to as showing preparations for a wedding. In Ehed art site is a ledge up on a cliff containing a hunting panel. Men armed with bows and arrows and using dogs are hunting Barbary sheep (Figure 2). A site shown to us by our guideAbdul had a large boulder carved with cups and sinuous grooves reminiscent of the British rock art tradition. Finally at lunchtime in the shadow of large cliffs, recent engravings by desert travellers depicted a Land Rover and a frog’s face!

Figure 6
Figure 6. Fighting Cats at Wadi Tiksatin.

          We left Wadi Teshuinat by a large naturally eroded arch (and cave with a painted red rhinoceros) and headed out across the Erg Uan Kasa to the Messak Settafet. Before leaving the mountain area our route took us by a well which our drivers used as an opportunity to have a last wash (once clean water had been pumped). Our route through the dunes had been used many times in the ancient past as we crossed palaeo-lakes and found lithic scatters present. A collection of grinding stones and mortars had been assembled by previous dunes travellers.
          As we headed towards the Messak Settafet, sand dunes in the distance took on a pink hue and looked like a theatrical backdrop. En route we stopped at a shelter to meet a blind Beduin who used a rope tied to a post to guide him when he walked away from his hut.
          The Messak Settafet appeared as a plain of stones of varying sizes covered in a dark patina. Straight tracks criss-crossed the plain, these being the remains of oil exploration seismic survey lines. A slight depression up ahead of us materialised into a deep wadi, Wadi Tiksatin. A bulldozed road left over from a seismic survey led from the top of the cliff to the bottom. The north face of the wadi contained many carvings in particular the famous Milking Scene (Figure 3). Here cattle are shown waiting their turn to be milked by a central figure who is already attending to a cow. Trees at the rear of the scene have hanging containers. Other carvings in the wadi show the African buffalo (Figure 4), ostriches and an elephant. Further along the wadi is the El Awrer site. This contains a glorious carved panel of over twenty two giraffes (Figure5).

Figure 7
Figure 7. Dead rhino and dog headed men Wadi Mattendush.

          A slight drama occurred on our last night in the desert. Returning from El Awrer to camp in the sand dunes, we were unable to find the kitchen vehicle which had gone on ahead to set up camp. The prospect of a hungry night lay ahead of us as we pitched our tents. However our drivers went out in further search parties and were able to find the cooks and bring them back complete with cooked dinner to our camp. One driver disappeared off again and returned later with a dead goat to be eaten by our Libyan crew. It had been killed elsewhere as the drivers were aware of our sensibilities. During dinner I noticed two drivers fiddling with something tied to the nearest vehicle’s roof rack. It was the goat they were gutting and skinning. Luckily I’d finished eating by this point! The goat meat, marinated in lemon juice, was barbecued on the camp fire and tasted fine.
          Our last day in the desert took in the art site of Wadi Mattendush. Carvings are present along the north side of the wadi on the rock face and tumbled boulders. We spent a morning wandering around admiring the range and quality of work. Ostriches and buffalo are depicted along with many giraffes. The latter are often associated here with circular designs with radiating spokes described as sun wheels. Two important designs are on the same cliff section. The first is a large boulder on the summit carved with three large fighting cats: two on the front face and a smaller one on the side (Figure 6). Four birds separate the two larger cats. The other main panel is a carving of a dead rhinoceros on its back being dragged away by two dog headed men (Figure 7). An adjacent panel has a giraffe with associated “sun wheel”. A few tens of yards over to the left is a boulder with a large engraved crocodile (Figure 8). The antiquity of the panel is evident from the large split in the rock occurring after the carving had been made. This unusual animal may refer to back to wetter climatic conditions. However in eastern Chad stunted crocodiles are still said to occupy a spring fed waterhole. Two Tuareg had laid out a blue cloth and were selling trinkets and souvenirs near our vehicles. This was our last chance to buy so a shopping frenzy was soon underway.

Figure 8
Figure 8. Crocodile at Wadi Mattendush.

          Our journey back to Sabha took the rest of the afternoon. The effects of seismic survey tracks were evident all over the Messak and the tracks were very dusty indeed. We passed through Germa again and were able to see the remains of Garamantian royal tombs, the site split in two by a metalled road providing access to the plateau for heavy vehicles.
          In Sabha we had a hurried last night meal then caught the plane to Tripoli. At the airport we discovered one of our party (who shall remain nameless) had bought a four feet long sword from the Wadi Mattendush Tuareg. Our Libyan security service member tried to fit it in various bags and suitcases but it wouldn’t squeeze in so he had to get permission to bring it onboard the aeroplane.
          Our last morning was spent in Tripoli museum seeing the glorious Roman galleries with their mosaics. Upper floors in the museum held other aspects of Libyan history, and the top floor had a cabinet of curiosities such as double-headed goats and other deformed animals.
          To our surprise the café in Tripoli airport departure lounge held almost all the small change in Libya, the lack of which had bedevilled our attempts to purchase stamps, postcards, cups of coffee and sweets during the trip.
          Arriving in Heathrow our bags were the first off the flight. As our goodbyes were said a large sword suddenly popped up on the carousel and went around and around. In unison we looked at each other and decided this was a suitable time for us to go our separate ways.
          The Libyan experience is camping out in the desert with sand as far as the eye can see and wonderful night skies, racing over perilously steep dunes in four wheeled drives and seeing some of the world’s best rock art. I would like to thank the Prehistoric Society for giving me this wonderful opportunity to visit Libya.
          A selection of rock art photographs from the trip can be accessed from the Durham University Prehistoric Art web page

Michael Rainsbury



          The Treasure Act 1996 reformed the old law on treasure, abolishing ‘treasure trove’ and making fresh provisions in relation to treasure. Section 2 (1) of the 1996 Act empowers the Secretary of State to designate as ‘treasure’ any class of object which he considers to be of outstanding historical, archaeological or cultural importance.
          On 1 January 2003, the Treasure (Designation) Order 2002 (Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2666), made under section 2 (1) of the 1996 Act, came into force. The 2002 Order designates two classes of object as ‘treasure’.
          The first class of object is one of at least two base metal objects (other than coins), from the same find which are of prehistoric date. The second class of object is any object (other than a coin) of prehistoric date, any part of which is gold or silver. The Order thus allows base metal objects from ‘hoards’ and composite objects (such as ones made mainly of base metal, but with some gold or silver embellishments) to count as ‘treasure’.
          The Order defines “of prehistoric date” as meaning “dating from the Iron Age or any earlier period”. The Order therefore gives legislative recognition to one of the three period terms which, collectively, constitute the 19th century ‘Three Age System’ of chronology, and which still feature so prominently in the thinking of prehistorians today. As far as I know, this is the first time that an archaeological ‘period’ has achieved a legal status of this kind in this country.
          The inevitable scope for argument about whether particular objects do or not date from the Iron Age is widened considerably by the fact that the Order applies to Northern Ireland as well as to England and Wales. Whereas in England and Wales, the Claudian conquest of 43 AD can be taken as marking ‘the end of the Iron Age’, there is no such clear or convenient division in Northern Ireland. The Iron Age in Ireland may continue down to the 5th century AD (Herity and Eogan 1977, 247-8; Waddell 1998, 290).
          The Treasure (Designation) Order 2002 thus opens up the intriguing possibility that the archaeological definition of ‘the Iron Age’ could one day be debated in a court of law.

Roger M Thomas
English Heritage
Roger Thomas (a member of Council) has recently gained an Honours degree in Law from the Open University.

Herity, M. and Eogan, G. 1977. Ireland in Prehistory, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul
Waddell, J. 1998. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Galway, Galway University Press The full texts of the Treaure Act 1996 and the 2002 Order can be found at .


Editorial Note

          Linda Hurcombe has retired from the lists as editor of Past and is setting out on a new adventure. Her first child is imminent and I am sure that everyone will join in wishing her and Robin the very best of luck and lots of fun with their family.


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