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Trove of Teutonic weapons uncovered in Krusne Hory region

09-02-2006 14:05 | Jan Velinger, Martina Schneibergová

It's not unusual in this country to come across weapons caches dating back to the Second World War. But, finding a pile of javelin tips, parts of shields and a sword dating back to the 2nd century A.D., doesn't happen every day.

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Lenka OnderkovaLenka Onderkova According to museum officials in the north Bohemian town of Chomutov it was a find that almost "never happened": a trove of twenty-two Teutonic items, weapons or parts of shields, dating back 1,800 years, that one finder almost failed to report. Roughly six months ago, the finder, a local man, discovered the items on a walk through nearby forests: they lay uncovered in a quiet grove. He gathered the items up and - apparently not realising their immense value - stored them in his cellar. Only later did it occur to him to hand in the rust-covered items to officials at the local museum. This week archaeologist Lenka Onderkova explained the importance of the find:

"It is a remarkable find but not because of individual items but because of the number of items found. Germanic tribes regularly buried important warriors together with their swords, or spears, or bits of broken shield, but in this case what's unusual is the high number of items found at a single site. The number of objects found - and their variety in this case - is what makes this find important."

The only previous and comparable such discovery in Czech lands took place in the 1950s, a case that is still discussed by academics today.

"The only similar such find took place in Eastern Bohemia. But, it was not without controversy. To this day it has been a matter of debate whether that find was a destroyed burial site, or a place for sacrifice. There they found far less: for example just four spears compared to the eleven at Krusne Hory. The latest find could be truly unique."

The Krusne Hory find certainly includes more items: twenty-two separate pieces including shield handles, pike tips, and an iron sword of typical Teutonic design. But, the find could have revealed more: archaeologists were reportedly upset - understandably- by the fact that the local who made the discovery not only removed the items from the area, but waited so long to report his find. That complicated matters. Viewing the site and seeing the original positioning of the items, could have been invaluable, likely revealing more about the items' long-dead owners and the circumstances of their burial, than the weapons do on their own. Given the delay, archaeologists were no longer able to decipher, for example, why the items were originally placed in such a shallow grave.

On one thing specialists do agree: found at high altitude, far from the nearest settlement or the nearest river, this must have been a ritual burial site. A final, quiet resting place for Teutonic warriors.

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