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VLADIMIR JAROSLAV FEWKES

Vladimir Jaroslav Fewkes was born in Czechoslovakia on March 23, 1901. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1921. In 1926 the Wharton School awarded Fewkes a B.S. degree; he then went on to achieve a M.A. in 1928 and a Ph.D. in 1930. During most of his graduate study, he was an Instructor in the Anthropology department, and a research associate in the University Museum. He has conducted field work in Prague, the Danube Valley and Yugoslavia. The textual records from the personal papers of Vladimir J. Fewkes consist of 1.5 linear feet of correspondence, fieldwork and research notes and catalogues, published and unpublished writings, and school notes. (1)

by FRANK G. SPECK, July‐September 1942


excerpt from the article:
 

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Dr. Fewkes was born on March 23, 1901, at Nimburk, Czechoslovakia. He came from an old Bohemian family, his father having been a member of the first Czech Senate and a close friend of Masaryk. After serving four years in the World War, Dr. Fewkes came to Philadelphia in 1920. He worked his way through the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1926. He received the degree of Master of Arts in 1928 and finished with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1931. Then followed a series of extensive archaeological expeditions to Europe. Dur- ing part of this time (1926-27) he served as Assistant in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and as Instructor (1930-31). From 1932 to 1938 he was Associate Director of the American School of Prehistoric Research, in 1938 Acting Director. Between 1939 and 1934 he was Director of the American Archaeological Expedition to Europe. During this period he was at Harvard University between 1932 and 1937. In 1938 he was appointed Archaeologist in charge of excavations at Irene Mound at Savannah, Georgia. Subsequent to his return to Philadelphia in the fall of 1938 he acted as research associate at the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania until his demise. Here he continued his work and research in the technological laboratory. He combined analytical chemistry, certain phases of physics and general practical knowledge with his excellent grasp of archaeology. As one of the outstanding men in America of Czech origin, he was honored by being made a member of the Society of Prehistory in Czechoslovakia and to the Historical Society of Jugoslavia. He was also a prominent member of scientific organizations in America, sitting in the council of the American Anthropological Association, the American Archaeological Society, and was at one time president of the Anthropological Society of Philadelphia. Dr. Fewkes was an honorary member of the following societies: Archaeo- logical Society of New Jersey; National Museum of Hungary, Budapest; National Museum, Belgrade, Jugoslavia, Honorary Curator; Honorary Charter Member, Museum of Nis, Jugoslavia; Bitolj Museum, Jugoslavia; Society for Georgia Archaeology; Franklin and Marshall College Chapter for the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. In his native Czechoslovakia he had held the following appointments: Corresponding Fellow, State Archaeological Institute, Prague; Research Consultant, National Museum, Prague; Research Curator, Krajinske Mu- seum, Kralupy ; Foreign Correspondent, Zemski Museum, Brno; ...(2)

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THE CZECHO-SLOVAKIAN EXPEDITION/ Museum Bulletin of Penmuseum 1930

THE first American archaeological expedition to work in Central Europe was that sent jointly last summer by the University Museum and the Peabody Museum of Harvard University under the direction of Mr. V. J. Fewkes. Of the nineteen separate sites excavated in the western part of Bohemia, the majority were suggested by the State archaeological Institute of Czechoslovakia, whose support and cooperation were in a large measure responsible for the Expedition’s successful accomplishments.

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Plate IV — A Bell Beaker Burial, Czechoslavakia.
Museum Image: 241093

Using Prague as headquarters, the expedition operated in localities within the radius of thirty miles from the capital, and in practically every site explored, remains of considerable importance and interest were discovered, ranging from the Early Neolithic Age culture through the Copper, Bronze, Iron and Protohistoric periods. Particularly important were the discoveries of a Bronze Age settlement of the so-called Silesian phase, fragments of iron objects found in the graves of the same culture, and the huge post-molds exposed in house-pits of the first phase of the Iron Age, all marking the first occurrences of their kind in Bohemia. Seven skeletal graves of the early Bronze period and two graves of the so-called Bell Beaker culture with their notable bronze and ceramic furniture may well be called the high points of the work.

After completion of the field work the staff made a tour of the rest of Czechoslovakia, of Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, studying museum collections and inspecting prehistoric sites. They feel strongly as a result of the summer’s work that the Balkan states offer unusual opportunities for fieldwork, and should yield important material for clarifying some of the more urgent problems in European prehistory. (3)

 

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POTTERY vessels, bronze earrings, bracelets, arrowheads and iron knives belonging to a period of culture more than five thousand years old have recently been unearthed by the Joint Central European Expedition of the University Museum and the Peabody Museum, Cambridge, according to word just received from Dr. Vladimir J. Fewkes, field director of the Expedition.

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the excavation of Homolka site

“The second summer’s work of the Expedition,” Dr. Fewkes writes, “has produced a number of interesting and important finds. In the course of our excavations at Lazavice, southwest of Prague, in Czecho-Slovakia we have uncovered objects that point to Slavic burials of the late Bronze and early Iron Age. In addition to this we have carried on extensive digging at Homolka, northwest of Prague where the finds reveal a settlement of people belonging to the so-called Nordic phase of the Eneolithic or earliest Bronze Age period, five thousand years ago. When the whole site has been completely dug, we shall have the credit of having excavated a primitive Nordic settlement for the first time in the history of European Archaeology. The Homolka site is a steep, rounded hill connected by a saddle hack to a long ridge and as many as one hundred and forty pits have been discovered in the course of complete excavation of the site. These pits were of many sorts such as house pits, storage and refuse pits, and others, the use of which has not yet been determined. In addition to the Eneolithic objects, types of very primitive pottery have come to light which indicate that the site was possibly occupied over a long period or perhaps that in this region a number of different cultures met and later merged into one. 

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the excavation of Homolka site

In addition to this, extensive digging has been carried on at Chrastany, west of Prague, where objects representative of Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures were found. The material recovered was most important, including some beautiful Bronze Age pottery and a perforated hoe of the same period.

The whole Central European region is archaeologically very important and as yet little understood, and when the finds of the Expedition have been studied and the results published no little light will be thrown on the prehistory of man in Europe.”

Dr. Fewkes will return early in December to prepare at the Museum an exhibition of his finds. (4)

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Hillfort Homolka

 

Hillfort Homolka was inhabited in the Middle Eneolithic by members of the Rivnac culture. Dating of loose ceramic fragments, from which it was possible to assemble, for example, the usual jugs with horned handles. However, part of the pottery also belonged to the culture of spherical amphorae and the Vučedol culture. The housing estate was destroyed by fire shortly after the construction of the younger fortifications.  In the Bronze Age, the only cottage inhabited by members of the Unetic culture stood on a hill. 

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Homolka today

Remains of the settlement were discovered at the end of the nineteenth century. In the years 1929–1931, archaeological research of the expedition of V. J. Fewkes from the University of Philadelphia took place on the site. Further research was conducted by R. W. Ehrich in collaboration with Emilia Pleslová in the years 1960–1961.(5)

 

1)University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives,  8/2009

2) source: https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1525/aa.1942.44.3.02a00120

3) "The Czechoslovakian Expedition." Museum Bulletin I, no. 1 (January, 1930): 6-10. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/10/

4)  "The Czecho-Slovakian Expedition." Museum Bulletin II, no. 1 (November, 1930): 22-23. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/516/

5) ROHANOVÁ, Veronika. Pravěké výšinné lokality na Kladensku. Plzeň, 2013 [cit. 2019-03-11]. 39 s. Bakalářská práce. Fakulta filozofická Západočeské univerzity. Vedoucí práce Jan John. s. 20–26.