Únětice past and present:
Únětice is a small village but its role in archeology is of great import. Cheddar cheese and Kentucky fried chicken are internationally known local connections, but which village or town can boast that its given its name to a whole historical era? And not only that, we must say that „Únětice culture“ isn’t just any old culture! It falls right at the beginning of the Bronze age (roughly from 200 to 1500 BC) when the Bohemian lands and especially central Bohemia were at the cultural centre of Europe, from where new ideas spread to further fields.
The inhabitants of Únětice maintained vibrant business connections with the whole of Europe. This is borne witness to by the discovery of bronze items, gold jewelry and Únětice ceramics from as far afield as Scandinavia, Great Britain, northern Italy and the Balkans. Conversely it is possible to find in Bohemia, amber from the Baltic and the North Sea, daggers from Scandinavia, pearls from Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia and salt from Germany. Thus it’s no wonder, that every archeological text book on the era expounds on Únětice culture, and there are even Bronze artifacts in the British Museum in London.
Why is such an important historical period named after a small village just outside Prague? It´s due to the excavations carried out in 1879 by local doctor and amateur archeologist Čeněk Rýzner on Holy Vrch (bare hill) that overlooks Únětice. It was here that he uncovered 56 graves dating from the late bronze age. In 1880 Rýzner published his findings in the specialist archeological press, and it is thanks to him, that from 1892 the term Únětice culture has been used, even though in later years, far bigger and more important sites were discovered in the near locality and elsewhere in Central Bohemia. In Únětice culture, graves are regimented in lines for the first time - as they are today in large cemeteries; proof that Únětice culture lies on the cusp of two eras, is that Úněticians were the last people in prehistoric times to bury their dead in the foetal position in a coffin hollowed out from a single piece of wood. Unětice graves are also unusual as they often contain more than one body, these are probably family graves, very rare in prehistoric cultures.
The notable discovery of the burial grounds at Únětice was not just an isolated event; it occurred during a lively period of emancipation for Czech culture and society within the Austro –Hungarian empire towards the end of the 19th century. At this time, culturally and economically, Bohemia was the most advanced part of the Empire although the Czech language and culture was firmly suppressed by their German counterparts. Archeologists, most of them amateurs like doctor Rýzner, created an important measuring stick for the recognition of Bohemian history. Their discoveries were not only treated as objects of scientific interest, but were also the inspiration for artists, writers, painters, sculptors and composers. The archeologist Václav Matoušek,, set his first theatrical play at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, basing the story on historical fact and the culturally and historically important figures who visited and were greatly influenced by the Rýzner family and the artifacts of Únětice.
The uncomparable atmosphere of Únětice has not been left untouched by the 20th century and the present day. Thus at the beginning of the 1990s, the „Club for the Renewal of Únětice Culture“ was founded, thus Únětice culture gained another meaning, that of contemporary culture in Únětice. Hardly anywhere in Bohemia can you find such a concentration of notable happenings, concerts, exhibitions, or theatrical performances such as the one about ourselves. In Únětice we have our own theatrical group, choir and film club and these elements directly influence other events in the village. Regular volleyball, legball and football tournaments are a tradition, and for several years now, we have organised an international petangue competition. Today’s Únětice is not „the cultural centre of Europe“, but it is an integral part of it. That is why our web site www.unetice.cz is not only in Czech, but in English, French and other world languages. An international archeological congress on the Bronze age, took place in Únětice, and the president of the Swedish Petangue Federation visited and played petangue with us; Úněticians and the inhabitants of Prague and its surrounds, could come and watch a Venezualan theatre group in the presence of the Venezualan ambassador to the Czech Republic, or listen to an orchestra from New York and many other artists from all over Europe, America and Africa. Únětice is proud of its role in history, but its current inhabitants are not content just to rely on their past glories, they want to connect with past traditions and have an active influence on the events around us. A museum of Únětice culture is planned to open in the historical grain store „Špejchar“, and there is a constant endeavour to deepen and widen the scope of our sporting and cultural activities.
If you want to experience for yourselves the unique Únětice atmosphere, come and visit, look at our web site, write to us, take part in the events, passively or actively. One thing is certain – as soon as you attend one of our events in Únětice, you will want to return.