History of research

At the beginning of professional archaeological research, Pohansko has long escaped the attention. Even though the site was already mentioned in literature at the end of the 19th century, it did not become widely popular until 1928 when the treatise “Slované na Moravě a říše velkomoravská” (The Slavs in Moravia and the Great Moravian Empire) by I. L. Červinka was published in print. The systematic research conducted by the Department of Archaeology and Museology at the Faculty of Arts of the Masaryk University in  Brno started here in 1958, being led by Prof. František Kalousek. He noted the observations from his first visit to the stronghold in a diary, which was preserved and became a priceless source of knowledge about the first archaeological investigations at Pohansko. In 1958 a field survey was made, together with a site outline and small-scale trenching, and the whole locality was geodetically surveyed. The first results were positive, so that the systematic excavations at the site already started in the spring of the next year.

The first excavations at Pohansko were focused on the area around the north-western part of the stronghold, where the highest concentration of mortars and plasters was detected. At this place, a church with three construction phases and the adjacent cemetery were discovered. At the time of its discovery, the church building, which was present in the form of foundations, represented the best-preserved example of Great Moravian architecture. The rich collection of finds came from 407 inhumation graves in total. The promising era of the first excavations continued in the next years as well. The excavated area grew larger and larger and the discovery of the church was soon followed by the so-called Ducal Manor, whose structure has been compared to Frankish, mainly Ottonian, pfalzes which were used as occasional residences of rulers over the country.

Rekonstrukce podoby velmožského dvorca

 The 1970s were a period of many changes. Bořivoj Dostál replaced Prof. Kalousek in his position of the site director, and the research team was extended by the archaeologist Jana Vignatiová and later also by the laboratory and field technician Pavel Čáp. In the following years, the continuous systematic research was supplemented with the first rescue excavations. The field research led by J. Vignatiová unearthed more than 400 settlement features and more than 200 graves in the area of South-Western Suburb. Excavations were also conducted in the area of Forest Nursery, also referred to as craftsmen’s precinct, where gradually 285 Great Moravian sunken features and 81 inhumation graves were unearthed. Besides specific craft-related finds, a part of an Early Slavic settlement from the time before the emergence of the stronghold also was uncovered. The research into the eastern part of the North-Eastern Suburb was finished until the end of the 1970s. Apart from large-scale excavations focused on settlement in the inner ward of the stronghold, the ruined fortification (rampart) also was examined. From the beginning of the excavations in 1961 to this day, approximately 60 metres of the ruined structure were unearthed and the construction of the defensive wall with specific construction details was identified.

 The situation with scientific and research activity at Pohansko in the first half of the 1990s was not really favourable. The extent of excavations was considerably diminished. At that time, not only that the financial support to scientific activities at universities was reduced, but also, sadly enough, the site director Prof. Bořivoj Dostál has passed away in 1994. The works related to the Great Moravian stronghold were transformed into a comprehensive processing of the large volume of data, which were collected over forty years of research. The data collected were processed with the help of the most modern computing technologies, whereby the Department of Archaeology and Museology ranked among the first archaeological departments in our country using these technologies. Field research was not completely stopped: in the 1990s many small-scale excavations were conducted to identify the extent of settlement in the whole agglomeration. Rescue excavations were carried out during rebuilding of a Liechtenstein hunting chateau, later the fieldwork shifted to the surroundings of Pohansko.

After the death of Prof. Dostál in 1994, Jana Vignatiová became the new site director. She was then replaced by Jiří Macháček in 1998. Apart from him, the stable core of the research team is also represented by Pavel Čáp, Petr Dresler (since 2003), who has been the site director at Pohansko since 2016, and Renáta Přichystalová (since 2008). Financial support to Czech universities has gradually grown since 1998, so that the intensity and volume of archaeological activities at Pohansko and in its neighbourhood also became intensified. The excavations in 1999 to 2004 were concentrated in the area called Lesní hrúd. Besides 105 settlement features, 34 inhumation graves and one horse burial also two wells and a palisade fence were identified. In the same year, a permanent exhibition of local finds titled “Great Moravian monument Pohansko” was installed in the Liechtenstein hunting chateau. The Pohansko site was examined not only by excavations but also by systematic surface collecting. Field survey conducted on an area of about 168.5 hectares in 2003 to 2006 has revealed 25 still unknown early medieval settlement areas, which helped to reconstruct the settlement structure in the outskirts of Pohansko. Since 2008, the systematic research in the area of the North-Eastern Suburb continues. Pavel Čáp made a unique discovery in this area in 2007: he identified here a medieval stone building – a rotunda with adjacent cemetery comprising more than 96 graves.

On the basis of archaeological and geophysical survey, the maximum extent of Pohansko at the time of Great Moravia is currently estimated to around 60 hectares. Today approximately a quarter of the total extent of the stronghold is examined, so that the research is by far not finished. Many students from the Department of Archaeology and Museology participate in the research at the locality within the scope of their study programmes, but the inhabitants of surrounding villages also are involved. At the same time also the international scientific cooperation has been supported, among other ways, by offering the possibility of practical training in field archaeology to university students from abroad.