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Good evening and dobry vecer.
I'm sure I've said that wrong, but I have to say it that way,
because tonight, the challenging museum
is The National Archaeological Museum of Prague.
And we're delighted this is actually happening tonight.
Of course, procedure will be the same as usual - three marks for each
object, and a total of 20 in the programme we have at our disposal.
And here are the three experts who are meeting the challenge
from the Prague museum.
First of all, our old friend, Sir Mortimer Wheeler.
And then next to him, Professor Sean O Riordain,
who says, apart from Czech,
that I can never pronounce his name in Irish. There it is.
And then Professor Gordon Child, who is director of the Institute
of Archaeology in London and our foremost authority
in western Europe on central European archaeology.
and now here is a photograph for you,
of The National Museum in Prague.
And here, you see the keeper and chief
of pre-historic archaeology, Dr Neustupny,
who has brought over the objects that you are seeing tonight
with Mrs Adams of the BBC, who arranged this challenge with him
during a recent visit to Prague.
In this snow-covered square is a statue of Good King Wenceslas,
which you are seeing from this balcony of the museum.
And now, here is Dr Neustupny himself...
Good evening, dobry vecer.
..whom we welcome and are delighted to have with us.
And he's the challenger with his museum. You've seen the people
who are answering the challenge, and here is the first object...
..which is made of bronze, and is greenish in colour.
This is what it is.
And now, Sir Mortimer, would you like to look at this first?
Ah, lovely, isn't it? A very spirited animal again.
And obviously like our spirited chairman from the Celtic fringe.
How are we getting on? All right? It's a Celtic horse.
Belonging to the early Iron Age, BC.
Well, you've got somebody on the Celtic fringe on your own fringe!
Well, now I'm going to pass this to the actual Celtic fringe,
- Professor O Riordain. - Have you ever seen it before, Sean?
- No, neither have I. It's lovely, isn't it? - It's very nice.
Very nice figure, a nice piece of bronze work, very nice pattern.
My first guess would have been the same as Sir Mortimer's,
that was Celtic fringe, La Tene.
On the other hand, it might be several other things.
Now, Professor Childe.
Well, I believe too that it's of the Celtic stock,
but I should think it was a bit earlier
Than Professor Sean O Rairdoin has suggested
and I would tip it for being Hallstatt. 700 to 500 BC.
Thank you very much, I was just going to ask you for some dates.
It's a horse, by the way. Nobody's said that.
It's the Hallstatt-La Tene overlap.
Well, I don't think it is,
I don't think it is for a moment, do you?
Anyhow, it's from Obrany,
and it's Hallstatt.
Yes, very good. So I'm going to give you three marks,
three marks for Childe!
And you need two marks for the other two members of the panel,
but there's no differential way of marking.
Now, here we are with the next object, which is of stone.
When I saw it again tonight...
..I knew what it reminded me of.
I knew that it was like Sir Mortimer in the film
that is being shown at the present moment
on old Bernstein's Granada ITA.
There we are.
I do, I shave it every morning.
Well, it looks like a brigadier, don't you agree?
A Celtic brigadier.
This is what it is.
Now, this is an extremely valuable object,
and as you pass it round could you please,
Professor O Riordain, could you show it to the viewers, please?
- Thank you very much. There you are. - Handsome chap. - Yes.
Perhaps you can't see it yourself but tell us what you think it is.
I presume I'm handed this because I'm the only one
without the similar appendages. Facial, I mean!
I take it, again, that it's Celtic.
And that it's a Celtic sculpture,
possibly a God.
Date - erm, late centuries BC,
possibly about first century BC,
possibly a little earlier.
It's unusual in the very highly stylised moustache of some sort.
But it slightly reminds me of some of the...
But where does it come from?
I take it it comes from Czechoslovakia.
- Because it's in this programme. - Well, I mean, really!
And I believe that it is... I suspect that it is very unusual
indeed in eastern Europe and in fact very unusual east of the Rhine.
What does Professor Childe think? He's often been east of the Rhine.
Well, it's pretty unusual anywhere, but I happen to know,
because I've seen it before.
The heads are usually chopped off, aren't they?
It comes from Czechoslovakia.
It's one of these superb examples
of the way barbarians -
particularly our Celtic friends,
my colleagues here -
they stylised the human visage
and never tried to make a real portrait of it,
but presented an idealised...
What sort of dates would you give?
..generalisation of a human figure.
I would date it certainly La Tene and, say,
200 to 100 BC is my theory.
Two things I want to say about this.
There are two things that I must say about this and the first is...
It's not a brigadier?
..as it happens, in ten days' time,
I'm going to show a slide of this in the city of Cheltenham
as an illustration of Celtic art.
Cheltenham has been warned.
The other thing is this -
this is one of the two best examples that I know - illustrations -
of the way in which an emphatic moustache can redeem
a somewhat intractable countenance.
Thank you very much.
Well, the experts got that right, we've got to six,
and here is the next object, which is pottery,
and a sort of grey-green, no, a sort of grey-black in colour.
This is what it is.
Could we ask now Professor Childe to start with this pot?
Well, this pot I don't think I ever have seen before.
Well, that's why it's been given to you!
But I've seen very many similar ones
and they are what my Hungarian colleagues would call
- a Peychelle bowl, which means... - Don't look at me,
explain to the viewers what that means.
It belonged to the... What I should call late Neolithic.
I'd say about 2,000 BC.
What are they used for?
I don't think they're lamps.
The characteristic features are these two knobs
and this partition of the two parts.
But what they were for, nobody knows.
It's very rare, this division in two parts, isn't it?
In Hungary, there are a fair number of them.
No, I meant in prehistoric pottery generally.
Is it meat and two veg, do you think?
No, we have these lamps in...
- It's not a food bowl? - Not a food bowl, I don't think.
Perhaps you put your meat in that side
and the vegetables in the other!
But you say it's a Neolithic bowl, and you put it at...
What did you say?
Oh, a bit before 2,000. Not very much.
Now, Sean, what do you think? It's quite wrong, think it.
I have no idea. The only thing I have to say
is about the function.
If it was a lamp, there should be, I should take it,
some perforation there, as for instance a validarie lamp.
But there is no such perforation,
therefore the oil couldn't get through to the wick.
Why have those things got flat tops to them?
I don't know, and I don't think anybody knows, but why?
- It's surely a perfectly ordinary salad bowl. - A salad bowl?
- If you have your... - What's in there?
..your spoon and fork there and two kinds of salad -
why not hors d'oeuvres, if you like?
But you can invent 100 reasons, nobody can prove you wrong.
When was the lettuce introduced to Czechoslovakia?
In 2,000 BC, but this is not entirely tried.
Well, they've made this in to 2,000 BC,
which is what the Czech National Museum makes it.
A Neolithic, divided bowl of a very interesting and curious kind.
Well, I've got to nine, we must defeat them somehow now.
Here's the fourth object, which is made of bone.
This is what it is.
Now, Sir Mortimer, what do you think?
- Be careful which way you hold it up. - Not very much, actually.
If it's a piece of sculpture, it just shows how the ancient
and the modern have completed the circle.
- I see no circles. - Well, yes!
- Or do I? - What on earth is it? It is either bone or ivory.
Not getting very much encouragement from the chairman, are we?
- It's a piece of sculpture. - I'm on the other side.
A piece of sculpture, in bone or ivory. Of a very remote period!
- Very good. - All right? - Yes. Sean?
I think this is one of the things that was published once,
many years ago, in The Illustrated London News.
Well, that could be said of a very large number of things
over the last 50 years!
It's related to the Venus of Willendorf,
but very little left of the Venus. Is that correct?
This is not sponsored television, Sir Mortimer appears on ITV,
but we can't turn over!
- And it's Gravettian art. - I deleted the reference to the journal.
Gravettian? Well, nobody will understand that!
It's old stone age art, and at that time, if I remember right...
What you think it represents is what we want to know!
I think by this time the listeners, or the viewers,
have very little doubt whatsoever.
It's a female figurine, that has become extremely conventionalised.
- Do you know many women like that? - Now, now.
Now, Professor Childe.
Well, I agree entirely with Professor O Riordain.
The viewers might not think this was a female figurine,
because it is conspicuously lacking in any face.
But that is of course characteristic of these rather early pictures.
The really significant things are the *** parts
and the ***, at any rate, are conspicuous enough.
- Date? You agree? - Oh, yes. - What? - Gravettian.
Oh... Anywhere between 20,000 and 12,000 BC,
- according to the radio carbon authority. - Thank you very much.
Well, there we are.
The experts got that correct again, put it in the upper Palaeolithic,
gave the dates that you saw, I'm giving them three marks.
And now we come to the next object, which is made of gold.
Well, the experts are now muttering among themselves,
which is a splendid sign.
This is what it is.
- Now, Professor Riordain, would you like to start with this? - Why me?
It's filigree work.
And I would imagine that it's one of these things done...
- Could you show it to the viewers? - I'm sorry. - No, not at all.
I would imagine it's one of these things done
under Byzantine influence.
Date I'm a little doubtful of,
but in...sixth, seventh, eighth century, sort of.
Gordon, what do you think? Professor Childe, what do you think?
Well, I come to much the same conclusion as Professor O Riordain.
It's beautiful beaded work,
and filigree work is quite...
I should say it was early Slav,
- and perhaps a century later than O Riordain suggested. - What did he say?
I said six, seven, eight.
Perhaps a century later than O Riordain suggested.
- It could be on to a thousand. - Eighth to ninth. - Now then.
Is there another one, Glyn? It wasn't part of a pair?
Not with us at the moment. Do you insist on wearing both?
To fit on an ear of ordinary size, not mine.
I agree with Professor Childe, that it belongs to the last...
to the ninth, tenth century.
It's a moon-shaped object.
Why are you so sure of the date?
It's... Well, one knows these things, you know?
When you're as old as I am, you'll know them too.
But it's a moon-shaped ancient charm.
But, you see, viewers don't really want to know about your antiquity.
- This particular... - Is it early Byzantine, you think?
It's what you call sub-Byzantine.
It's central European Byzantine,
from Czechoslovakia, if I'm not mistaken!
- But it is an earring of the ninth, tenth century. - Thank you very much.
Well, they don't seem to be able to get anything wrong, these people.
Must have picked the wrong panel, I think.
Now, here we come to the next object, which is green in colour,
made of bronze.
This is what it is.
Would Professor Childe like to start this? It's a nice thing.
Obviously, it's made of bronze, and I can't see any traces
of casting in a two-piece mould,
so I presume it's been cast cire perdue.
It is a very lively sort of little steer.
As a sheer guess, I would say also that it was probably
the sort of thing one made in the Hallstatt period.
I think there's something like it in the celebrated grave of Byci Skala.
Professor O Riordain.
What have we got so far? Hallstatt, Byci Skala.
- Professor Childe may be right. - Why do you say "may"?
May be right, because it could also be La Tene.
- You'd never heard of it. - Neither had you! - No, nor I.
I should say it's too realistic for so early a period,
and I should say it's Roman. Of the Roman period.
A bull, there are many thousands of them in the Roman Empire.
They were associated with water, with springs and wells
and that kind of thing. Water gods.
What do you date it to?
I don't know what the museum dates it to, but I'll tell you what it is.
It's of the Roman period,
- from Bohemia or thereabouts. - Date? - All right?
- Date? - Roman. - Well, I mean, good heavens!
Or the early centuries AD - you can't date that poor, wretched animal!
It might be second, third or fourth century.
Back to Professor O Riordain.
Now, here we have a dichotomy between the experts.
Well, I mean, it's a bull. Either of my colleagues may be right...
Well, I know everybody says it's a bull, and one says
it's a Hallstatt bull and the other says it's a Roman bull.
I felt inclined to say La Tene
and I felt inclined to say late centuries BC.
- It's not an Irish bull, anyway! - Ah, but there are ones like it.
Well, now, here we have a fascinating problem,
with the experts all disagreeing.
Professor Childe, Hallstatt.
Oh, it won't stand up. Professor O Riordain, La Tene, wasn't it?
Late La Tene, because there were no early La Tene things like that.
- Professor Meritorious Wheeler, Roman. - Oh, it is undoubtedly.
Sean and I are really in agreement, He says very late La Tene.
Well, you can't reach over to Professor Childe,
or you'd all be in agreement, wouldn't you?!
- It is Roman, undoubtedly. - Fourth century Roman.
- Now, three experts, only one right, one mark. - Oh, dear.
This is my new system.
Now, here's the next object, which is made of pottery,
and how engagingly is it made of pottery?
This is what it is.
Now, Sir Mortimer.
What about this little bull?
- Yes, there's no justice in this world, you know! - No, no, no.
Well, thank heavens we have a navy. I suppose Bohemia has a navy too?
Well, this is a pot in the act of surrendering,
with its arms right up.
It's a lady pot.
I don't know why you're talking about the navy, but go on.
- It's a lady pot. - A lady pot?
Erm, it's a pot, I should think, of the Neolithic period.
Because it's too bad to be anything else!
Have you been in these areas?!
It's a handmade pot, but I would pass this on,
if I may, through Professor O Riordain, to Professor Childe.
Well, I too think it's a lady pot.
You mustn't look too carefully at the backside of it.
I wouldn't dream!
Only you suggested that!
The *** are quite conspicuous and it has its arms up.
Though perhaps not in surrender, as Sir Mortimer has suggested.
- I know very few ladies that look like that. - Very few who surrendered.
You might think the arms were hollow, but they're not.
They each contain a little cup.
In view of these little knobs and things around it,
I should put it to...
what I think our Czech colleagues call the "Jordanova" culture.
We used to call it "Jordansmuhl", but of course the country has now
been transferred to Poland and we must give it a Slavonic name.
And that would, again, put it about the same time as the...
or perhaps a bit earlier than the bowl we had before.
Say, 2,200 BC.
Professor Riordain, what do you think? Is it a lady? Is it old?
Is it an old lady?
If it's Iordansmul, it's Neolithic and it's early.
On the other hand, these things occur on Lausitz pottery,
but I take it Professor Childe is always right
And that it is in fact Neolithic.
- I concur. - Yes.
Well, I don't know who's concurred with what,
but it is quite true, as you saw.
It is a Neolithic pot, from what Professor Childe said.
Now we've got to 1,900. 19 marks.
And we've only one to go, and here's the next object, which is bronze.
And very easy.
This is what it is.
Now, Professor O Riordain,
would you like to start with these very nice things?
I'm sure you'd like to have these in Ireland.
We'd love to have them in Ireland.
I would then declare they were Celtic
and I would declare that they were part of a chariot.
- Would that be right? - What sort of date would you put them?
Oh, well now, if they appeared in Ireland...erm...
- somewhere in the late centuries BC. - Somewhere in the what?
- Late centuries BC. - In Ireland?
- Yes, if they appeared here... - You've transferred them,
in some amusing little conversation we've had, to Ireland.
I don't quite know how!
- You did that, Mr Chairman. - Let's put them back into central Europe.
I would suggest they're Hallstatt. Would that...?
Professor Childe, what do you think?
Well, it all depends what Professor O Riordain means,
"they're Hallstatt," because of course they are.
This is the so-called Hallstatt duck, you see.
this creature started flapping about in central Europe
long before people started using the iron swords and so on,
which we in this country associate with Hallstatt.
What sort of date would you put them?
I would put them perhaps at about 800 BC therefore. They are.
I'm quite sure that Professor O Riordain was right
and thinks that they're off the top of a pole of a chariot.
Now, we've got to top of a pole of a chariot.
- And 800 BC. - Well, these things do occur of course on chariots.
Model, or similarly real ones too.
Model ones too, you think?
Model ones too. On wheels.
There are plenty of examples of them,
from central Europe and from Italy.
And, erm, 723 BC would be a sort of central date for them.
Your dating is getting very accurate tonight, I must say!
Well, now, there we are.
The panel have got these very charming -
oh, they're tinkling away - these things right, the date.
So there they've got to their target, and just as well,
because there are no more objects.
Except this one, which I am producing for you there
and not showing to the panel.
By the way, may I say now,
these objects you've been looking at and which have been brought
over from Czechoslovakia,
are going to be on view in the British Museum from tomorrow
morning for the next five days by the kind courtesy
of the trustees of the British Museum.
So there they are, for the next five days,
they're in the British Museum for you to look at.
But this last thing we're showing you and not showing the panel -
here it is, it's a lovely silver chalice,
it's reconstructed from there down.
But the top part of it, this silver gilt chalice,
it's found in a grave at Kolin in Bohemia.
It was found in 1864, nearly a hundred years ago.
The grave was considered was considered to be that of the great
Hussite leader, the great Hussite protestant leader, Andrew Procop,
who was killed in battle in 1434.
And a wooden copy of this chalice was made
as soon as it was found and it was sent by the protestant church of
Kolin to the protestant church in Edinburgh, whatever that may mean,
And Dr Neustupny is most anxious to know where this has got to
in Scotland, because it probably has a better reconstruction of
the whole thing than is available at this present moment in this object.
So that if anybody in Scotland - or anywhere else for that matter -
has been engaged in using this chalice in ritual,
sacred or other uses, in the last hundred years,
may we please know about it, in the BBC, and then
eventually in the Archaeological Museum in Czechoslovakia?
That's what you want to know, isn't it?
To find out precisely what has happened to the original
constitution of this object.
Well now, there we are, that's the end of our programme
tonight except that the objects are at your disposal
in the British Museum for the next few days.
Now, in a fortnight's time, the programme will again be back
to deal with pictures - problems from pictures.
The Metropolitan Museum of New York this time, and the panel will
consist of Stephen Bone, Sir Gerald Kelly and Dr Mary Woodlaw.
And your chairman on that occasion will be John Betjeman, I shall
be away in France, but I hope to be with you again in a month's time.
And until then, on behalf of all the people who have performed
tonight and on behalf of Dr Neustupny, I say good night
and dobrou noc, is that right?
I don't know, but anyhow I've tried to say that. Goodbye.