Humanity is trying to put together the puzzle pieces left by our ancestors to better understand how civilizations have formed and ultimately how we ended up here. These pieces are believed to be the first structures built by mankind.
Everyone has heard of the famous Stonehenge in England, considered to be from 3000 BC, or the Great Egyptian Pyramids of Giza believed to be from around 2600 BC. Even the lesser-known Newgrange in Ireland, which until now was considered to be the oldest man-made structure from 3200 BC. All of these world-wonders have been identified as the first step of humanity into modern evolution.
However, a recent archeological discovery in Central Europe is here to rewrite history. The “roundels” in the Czech Republic area are a series of circular ditches which are arranged in circles with multiple entrances. This neolithic structure seems to represent some sort of fortification to what once was a small settlement.
Jaroslav Řídký from the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague focuses on the neolithic period and the stone age all around the world. He has done a lot of research to identify these sorts of ancient structures and most importantly understand their age.
“The so-called roundels are the oldest evidence of architecture in the whole of Europe. They are a series of circular ditches and they are always arranged in a circle with two, three, four or more entrances to the centre, four being the most common. The circular ditches usually number between one and three, or very rarely four. The whole structure reaches an average of between 30 to 240 metres, but you most commonly find them in the range of 60–80 metres. Perhaps I should emphasise that these ditches are usually around one and a half metres wide, but we know of ditches up to fourteen metres wide and six metres deep.” (Quote by Jaroslav Řídký)
The roundels were discovered during a round expansion near Kolin in the Czech Republic. What is interesting is that looking at the historical records and other discoveries around the world, this type of fortification was only seen for around 200 to 300 years, between 4900–4600 BC after which it has disappeared.
“There was simply some kind of societal change, where the roundels could no longer fulfill the function they had before and they just stopped being used. And we know that it was sometime around 4600 BC, we have evidence of that from all areas where roundels occur. Sometime around the year 4800 BC or just before, the construction began, the roundels were rebuilt, cleaned, and people took care of them, and around the year 4600 BC at the latest, but probably before, some kind of dramatic change occurred, and we see it in archaeological sources, actually the archaeological record completely changes. The structure of settlements changes in some areas, the ornamentation changes.” (Quote by Jaroslav Řídký)
This is now recognized by the field of archeology as the oldest man-made structure in the world, but what is interesting is why it has diapered all of a sudden. Whilst experts say that the structure itself may have been in need of a technological upgrade, it has happened suddenly, making some people think of a possible war that whipped a civilization that was using this sort of structure.
Such a simplistic, yet complex structure for its time, continues to amaze the world with the capabilities of early humans, despite the lack of resources or proper tools. Just like with any ancient structure, the experts are left with more questions rather than answers. This also raises the theory of possible older structures still waiting to be unearthed or discovered by accident.