Urbanisation of high-medieval Moravia during the 13th century contribution of archaeology

Urbanisation of high-medieval Moravia during the 13th century contribution of archaeology

By Rudolf Procházka

Medieval Europe Paris 2007, 4th International Congress of Medieval and Modern Archaeology (2007)

Introduction: It was about fifty years ago that the modern archaeological research of high (late)-medieval towns and early town agglomerations of the 11th – 12th/13th centuries started in Moravia and the associated part of Silesia. For a long time it looked like gathering stray finds and digging out some scattered trenches of rescue character (2nd half of the 19th century to the mid-20th century). The second stage (until the beginning of the 1990s) brought a gradual development of field activities already in accordance with the evolution of archaeology as a science; in the 1970s and 1980s the first systematically investigated towns appear as well as some large-scale exposures of entire plots or plot parts, the excavations of civil engineering networks are being documented and so on. All the archaeological excavations are performed by state authorities.

The third stage running down to the present day brought an unprecedented development of archaeological rescue excavations in towns, because of the most developpers being obliged to pay the excavation costs. A relatively complicated structure of organisations emerged, which are engaged in the research of historical towns. The leading role is played by specialised departments at the institutes of preservation of historical monuments and by non-state archaeological organisations, mostly the so-called non-profit companies or civil associations.

The town excavations considerably increased in number after 2000, however, only ca 10 sites with the biggest building activity are being monitored systematically, in the true sense of the word (mainly Brno, Olomouc, Jihlava, Opava, Ostrava, Znojmo). The archaeologists still pay a fully insufficient attention to the intravilans of small towns and townships. The biggest pain of urban archaeology (and not of that alone) are the opening scissors between field excavations and cabinet processing.

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