charles university magazine
May the dignity of our kingdom be multiplied
A Ship Hidden in the Desert
Karolinum Press www.karolinum.cz
J A N ROY T
The Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece
The Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece J A N ROY T Karolinum
1 editorial Forum 01
We are all working towards a higher goal This issue is dedicated to Charles IV, just as the entire university is de facto his, because if it were not for Charles IV, we would not be here. That’s why we chose to focus on him in the same year that the Czech Republic and the rest of Europe will mark 700 years since his birth. Thanks to Petr Žitavský’s chronicle, we know Charles was born on May 14, 1316, between 4 and 5:30 a.m. to a 24 year-old Elizabeth of Bohemia in Prague; specifically in the house dubbed U Štupartů, near the church of St. James. Today, people are quick to say he was brought up in France, but he took his first steps on Bohemian soil. The beginnings were not the happiest. He was christened on May 30, 1316, on the Pentecost in the Prague Cathedral with Trier Archbishop Balduin Luxembourg present. He was baptised by Mainz Archbishop Peter of Aspelt, but was soon interned with his mother at Křivoklát Castle. He had barely learned to walk and was captured again, this time held at Loket Castle so that he could not play a role in local politics, even though he was just a child. This effort proved to be for naught as Charles grew into a politician of European stature and from that position could influence his sometimes ungrateful fellow Czechs. Our English edition includes an article of what Charles IV looked like according to anthropologists, a step-by-step description of his coronation, and even an interview with the legendary monarch. That was compiled by studying historical texts and sources and although it’s not a real interview, it’s a rather attractive idea of what such an interview with the Father of the Nation would have looked like. Many of you have probably noticed Charles’s idea of putting the univer-
sity into the hands of St. Wenceslas, as depicted on our seal. “This is very symbolic. By handing the founding charter to St. Wenceslas, we placed the protection of the university in the hands of the greatest saint of the Kingdom of Bohemia and begged for a favour with the heavenly father. St. Wenceslas is not only the patron of the kingdom, but also of the university.“ And so it is on this Earth; that nothing is our own work because we are all working for a common result that belongs to a higher goal. It’s not surprising Charles saw things this way. That’s why he had himself corona ted with the crown of St. Wenceslas, one he had specially made. As per tradition, he did not receive the realm as his property, or for his control; but into his administration and only on loan, much like the crown itself. Upon his death, he handed everything to his successor, who also only answered to St. Wenceslas himself, the patron and eternal ruler of the Bohemian lands. This is a very reasonable principle that does not allow even the most important to think that everything is for him. We can celebrate the legacy of Charles IV best, in my opinion, by putting our success and our efforts to a higher goal. That is a worldview that was always much closer to Charles’s own than the material things of this world. I wish you a pleasant read. rofessor Martin Kovář P vice-rector for public affairs
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CONTENT 20 6 interview Charles University Magazine Issue 01/2016
Charles University Ovocný trh 3, 116 36 Prague 1
charles IV – May the Dignity of our Kingdom Be Multiplied 6
Responsible for content:
Professor Martin Kovář Vice-Rector for Public Affairs
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Forum is published twice a year and is free. The opinions expressed in Forum are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Charles University. Reprinting of any articles or images from Forum without the express permission of Charles University is forbidden.
Registration MK ČR E 22422 ISSN 1211-1732
Spotlight Lucie Kettnerová
radomír Čihák – What
Remains Hidden in the Portraits of Charles IV 12
Miroslav Smaha – Step-by-Step Through the Coronation of Charles IV 16
Miroslav Verner – Czech Egyptological Exploration in Egypt 24 veronika dulíková – If You Love It, It’s a No-Brainer 28 10 Surprising Facts about Egyptology 30
Zoom at CU Classical Sculpture in North Bohemia 32
Science Lab Rudolf Pfefferkorn
egyptology miroslav bárta – Fulfilling the Pharaoh’s Wishes 20 A Ship Hidden in the Desert 22
Jiří Dolejší – CERN – Exciting Times for Particle Physics 36
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46 Petra Köpplová
Petr Widimský – Infarction can Not Be Destroyed Like Smallpox 38 robert jech – “Happy” and “Sad” Human Neurons Discovered 40 jaroslav hrabák – Bacterial Battlefield 41 Lucie Kettnerová
A Wardrobe Full of Memories 60
miroslava knapková – The Right Sport-Study Balance 49 Robert Záruba
Simona Baumrtová 50
jan royt – Prague’s Debt to Charles IV 62
František Šmahel – A Summit of Kings and Emperors 64
filip matějka – Who’s Better Petra Köpplová Off: Smetana or Nguyen? 42 tomáš šebek – The Doctor Without Borders 52 Petra Köpplová
ondřej hrušák – Childhood Leukaemia 43
bohumír janský – Glacier Watching in Kyrgyzstan 44
tomáš halík – We Have to Protect Room for Reason Between the Extremes 56
eva novotná – Bloody Borders 46 martin kovář –The Times They Are a Changin’… 48
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5 editorial Forum 01
Let’s join our efforts to make our alma mater, Charles University, a real ‘University of the Third Millennium’.
photo by jiří hroník
I took the position of our alma mater’s rector in February 2014. After two years, I’m very happy to see that Charles University is much more present in the public space, not only presenting excellent research results achieved by our experts and research teams, but also making qualified expert statements on various current issues and topics. In short, I’m very glad that Charles University keeps convincing the experts and general public alike that education and knowledge are virtues that cannot be taken away, and that educated people are less prone to be influenced by demagogy and extreme views, so often unfortunately present in our society these days. Our Strategic Plan for 2016–2020 says: “Let’s join our efforts to make our alma mater, Charles University, a real ‘University of the Third Millennium’, i.e. a university that is free, self-confident, cherishing its history and traditions, yet taking active part in the development of the branches and subjects it teaches; a modern and inspirational university open to the world, able to absorb various thoughts and inspirations; a prestigious university not only in the Czech and European context but all over the world. That’s the only way to success.” That’s why we constantly acknowledge our best traditions, especially this year, with the 700th birth anniversary of Charles University founder, Emperor and King of Bohemia, Charles IV. As one of the most important institutions founded by Emperor and King Charles (together with the Archbishopric of Prague), Charles University is the main organiser of the Charles Festival, a worthy commemoration of this important historic persona. Various concerts, also in cooperation with the musical festival Prague Spring; the exhibition “Second Life of Charles IV” (together with the National Gallery); the ceremonial gathering of the representatives of European and world universities and meetings of the officials from three international university associations (Coimbra Group, Europaeum, UNICA); a big international conference Legacy of Charles IV: Education and Academic Freedoms, Innovation and Open Society; the International Charles IV Award ceremony; the Lifelong Education Day and the Children’s Day with Charles-related topics; guided tours to monasteries and churches founded by Charles IV in cooperation with the Archbishopric of Prague; the meeting Happy Birthday Charles IV –Charles Square Open Air – these are just a few of many events Charles University organizes to honour its founder, together with publishing several outstanding books and picture publications (Charles IV, Emperor and King of Bohemia – visionary and founder, or The Cathedral of Sts.Vitus,Wenceslas and Adalbert by Jiří Kuthan and Jan Royt, Karolus Quartus by photographer Martin Frouz etc.), or a 7-part series filmed in cooperation with the Czech TV.
In the Middle Ages, when Charles University was founded, the universities were the place for the sovereigns to seek consultation. The kings took them as centres of education, and cooperated with them accordingly. I’m happy that the society begins to see the universities in this light again, verbally at least, if not economically. There are politicians who meet more and more often the colleagues from the academia, to discuss areas even outside their scope of responsibility – education, healthcare, culture, research etc. Many important people from all over the world come to visit Charles University, including excellent scientists and researchers – physicians, economists, philosophers and others, raising the university’s international prestige. The growing importance of research and its increasing quality is also proven by close cooperation of international teams, not only in gaining ERC grants, but also closely cooperating with strategic partners, such as the universities in Heidelberg, Berlin, Oxford, Leiden, Leuven or Vienna, or McGill University in Canada, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, etc. All this makes me happy, and I hope this trend will go on in the future. Another proof of being on the right path is the establishment of the International Advisory Board as a consulting body of Charles University rector, especially to determine the key principles of our research and education. The Board is also responsible for raising the international prestige of Charles University, and for helping improve the quality of the research and education so they achieve better results in international comparison, to confirm the role of internationally visible research university. That’s why the Board consists exclusively of outstanding researchers and teachers from top foreign institutions. Dear colleagues, let me please assure you that I will continue to realise the programme which I presented upon my election, and that I will do my best to meet the Strategic Plan of the University; in general, I will struggle to help our university prosper in the years to come. Professor Tomáš Zima Charles University Rector
May the dignity of our kingdom be multiplied The newest issue of Forum focuses on the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, the founder of our alma mater. Who else would we interview than the person who so greatly contributed to Czech learning? As there will undoubtedly be many interviews with historians surrounding this event, we decided to present something different. We processed historical materials to put the answers to our questions into the mouth of Charles IV himself. Hopefully, he wouldnâ€™t have been too angry with us.
photo by BONEK / Alamy Stock Photo
text by Lucie KettnerovĂĄ
The ceremonial seal, PHOTO by archive of the charles university
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Why did you decide to found a university in Prague? The founding of the university in Prague was for the inhabitants of our kingdom, so that they would no longer be forced to travel abroad for learning, and instead we could now invite people from foreign lands to study in Prague. How difficult was the “bureaucracy”? The founding consisted of three constitutive acts: one by the Pope, and two of our own. First, Pope Clement VI published a document in Avignon on the 26th day of January 1347 saying that Prague is an appropriate location, as the centre of the Bohemian Kingdom, and the fact that the Bohemian Lands, just like the empire, lacked their own university. Prague can connect to an educational tradition that grew out of the importance of local particular schools. We can see clear agreement with the creation of the university in the text where the Pope by apostolic authority decrees that in the mentioned city of Prague, general studies should for ever thrive in any permitted discipline. We announced our intention to found a university during the foundation of the New Town of Prague, the act itself took place at the Land Diet in Prague in March
and April of 1348. We presented the university founding charter to the nobility, which gave its approval. You probably know the third document as the “Diploma of Eisenach”. On the 14th day of January 1349, we repeated the approved Papal and Royal acts, but added the exemption of taxes and fees and expanded the realm of the people who enjoyed this privilege to not just doctors, masters, and students, but also to their servants, and to the entire university community. Can you describe what rights teachers and students had at the university in your time? The Pope guaranteed all teachers and students the same rights and privileges in Prague as at other universities, and specifically enumerated the right to grant the title of master and a licentiate, a permission to teach at the university. The graduates were guaranteed the validity of their titles and were granted privileges not only at their mother university, but at all others in the Christian world. We promised teachers and students material support, but also legal protection when traveling to the university, while accommodated in Prague, and when returning from their studies.
Great support came from Prague Archbishop Ernest of Pardubice, who aided our efforts at the Papal court.
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How was the Bohemian environment prepared to accept a university? We would say, quite well. There was a learning tradition here reaching back not only to the times of the chronicler Cosmas, who made one of the first mentions of Prague schools in his writings, but also to the visits from students abroad seeking higher education. The Prague cathedral school from the 11th century was sought-after by foreign teachers and students. The office of the scholastic administrator of the bishopric school began functioning in the 13th century, while a second centre of knowledge grew from the 1240s in the Vyšehrad chapter. Chroniclers speak of almost 20 pastoral schools, colleges, and education at some Prague monasteries. This allowed our university to build on an educational tradition, but also use the existing school premises. Your grandfather Wenceslas II was unable to found a university, allegedly because of resistance from the nobility. What worked in your favour? Certainly our personal relationship with Clement VI, who, as Cardinal Roger de Rosières, was our tutor in our youth. Great support came from Prague Archbishop Ernest of Pardubice, who aided our efforts at the Papal court. Ernest himself studied at the legal colleges in Padua and Bologna and was convinced that Church administration could not be without a qualified, legally educated apparatus. The university seal used to this day shows you kneeling before St. Wenceslas. Why did you choose this image? This is very symbolic. By handing the founding charter to St. Wenceslas, we placed the protection of the university into the hands of the greatest saint of the Kingdom of Bohemia and begged for favour with the heavenly father. St. Wenceslas is not only the patron of the Bohemian Crown Lands, but also of the university. How was the university materially supported? That fell to the local church in the first few years. There was a special tax collected from the clerics of the Prague archdiocese, so a sort of financial collection for the university that was used to purchase the first estates. Land brought in a regular annual income that was used to pay teachers. The collection took place in 1352 and yielded a sum of 700 threescore groschen, which was used to buy the villages of Chudolazy, Zálezly, Borová and Veselá Lhota and courts in the village of Brocany. To these, add parts of the family estates in Hřmenín and Vazice, which
were donated by Ernest of Pardubice to support a professor of theology. Benefices for the lecturer in theology were covered by income from the villages of Zlatníky and Hodkovice bought for this purpose in 1355 and 1356. In the 1360s the Prague Archbishop acquired Počernice and neighbouring Čertousy from Old Town burgher Henslin Beneš. Did the people in these villages have any privileges? The villagers were freed of all taxes and were subject only to the royal courts or the jurisdiction of the royal under-chamberlain. In 1366, you founded the masters’ college, which you named Collegium Caroli, or Karolinum. What led you to do that? We were concerned about the material support of Prague professors and education, as in colleges in Paris. But our decision was helped by the foundation of new universities in Vienna and Krakow, which became competitors to Prague. That is why I tried to provide a stable group of teachers at two colleges: the most popular Faculty of Arts, and the most prestigious Theology Faculty. Where was the college located? We granted the masters a house on the edge of the Old Town that once belonged to the Jew Lasarus, and the college received six villages: Drahelčice, Holonohy, Nenačovice, Počernice, Psáry, and Uněbuzy, and an income from Čertousy. In 1383, my son Wenceslas IV granted the college large palaces that had been the property of the Rotlevs, a Prague patrician family. Other colleges were gradually created, such as All Saints College, Wenceslas’ College, and Queen Jadwiga College for poor students from Lithuania financed by the Polish Queen Jadwiga’s foundation of the same name. Besides the income from the granted and purchased estates, did the university have any other income? All the university’s financial income came from fees for using either the rectorial or university seals, or fines levied by the rectorial court, or as defined in statutes. The most significant share was from matriculation fees, which had to be paid by each new member of the university. How much was this fee? It was set at six groschen, while a third was deemed for the rector and 6 hellers went to the university beadle. The matriculation fee at the Law University was 14 groschen, and a good spot in the front benches reserved
Moravian Land Archive in Brno – State District Archive Jihlava, Fund: Archive of the town of Jihlava until 1848, department: Registers and manuscripts, inventory No. 17 – Legal registry by John of Gelnhausen, file 53r, 54v, 56r, 58v.
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Were there options for poor students? Students of three-faculty university, if they could prove their poverty, had their fees waived. This meant the university member did not earn more than 12 guilders per year. Cases where income totalled 12 to 24 guilders were left to the rector’s discretion. The promise to pay the fee later, once the student established himself, was common. The fee could also be waived for future lawyers, who most often paid only half the sum, or 7 groschen. Who made up the university community? Anyone registered with the university registrar, regardless of whether he was a lecturer or a student, their servants, craftsmen associated with the university (scribes, bookbinders, apothecaries, etc.) and by later statutes also administrators of lower schools. The rector was also in charge of university jurisdiction. What was that like? This jurisdiction only dealt with conflicts between university members, or resolving disputes where a member of the university was the accused. The rector’s court met every Tuesday and Thursday when necessary, and judicial decisions could be made on other days. Penalties could range from an oral reprimand to a fine, prison sentences, or even expulsion. How could an official or anyone recognize a member of the academic community to hand them over to the court?
It is true that most people were illiterate at the time. But university clothing would be a clear identifier, which was made up of a long black or blue tabard worn under a long tunic (epomis). An instructor also wore a cap called a biretta and a ring that masters received during graduation as a badge of their office. What were the conditions for being accepted at the university? In addition to adulthood, which at the time was 14, and payment of the matriculation fees, there was no other written condition for being accepted to the university. It was assumed the student would have an elementary grasp of Latin as the language of instruction, and should be able to read text, do basic arithmetic, and know how to sing. Writing was not a condition because learning involved constant memorisation of text, so it didn’t require the writing down of lecture notes.
We announced our intention to found a university during the foundation of the New Town of Prague. The act itself took place at the Land Diet in Prague in March and April of 1348.
What was the social make-up of the students? Burghers made up 70% of graduated students at the Faculty of Arts, while the remaining 30% came mostly from Bohemian, and also Moravian villages. There were only a few nobles studying. How many matriculated students finished their studies? The drop-out rate was actually very high; from 2/3 to 3/4 of the students at the faculty of liberal arts never achieved graduation. Lower level clerics abused the legal privileges of matriculation but never wanted to actually study. Others overestimated their powers or financial abilities, although poor
Moravian Land Archive in Brno – State District Archive Jihlava, Fund: Archive of the town of Jihlava until 1848, department: Registers and manuscripts, inventory No. 17 – Legal registry by John of Gelnhausen, file 53r, 54v, 56r, 58v.
for highborn and highly placed individuals cost an extra 10 (the so-called scamna nobilium).
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PHOTO by archive of the charles university
“… so that the inhabitants of the kingdom, who desire the fruits of knowledge, do not have to beg for alms in foreign lands, but instead find the table here at home set, and those who receive the blessing of intelligence and could become learned and so they never again would need to travel the world in search of knowledge, to have their desire satisfied, begging in foreign countries, but instead now take in the glory that they can invite others from abroad to our lands and serve them the sweet smell of such magnificent gratitude.” From Charles University’s founding charter
students had various discounts. The number was even higher at the law faculty, over 90%. Just as in Paris, there were four nationalities studying at the university in Prague: Bavarian, Czech, Polish, and Saxon. How was nationality understood in the 14th century? The university nationalities weren’t “nationalistic” associations defined by language or nation, but associations of university members who came from a certain region. It was therefore a wholly territorial principle that grouped instructors and students into a certain association that defended their collective and individual interests. What was the ratio of nationalities at the university before the Decree of Kutná Hora?
“German” nationalities dominated at the beginning. The Bavarian university nationality had about 30% of those who gradua ted from the Faculty of Arts by the end of the 1380s, but then their share dropped to 20%, then 15% of the total. Saxons made up about 20% in the 1370s−1380s before dropping to 14% and then surging just before the end of the 14th century to be the second-largest nationality with almost 25% of the graduates being arts students. The largest fluctuations were with Poles, whose members at first made up 15%, but their share soared to 30% at the beginning of the 15th century, overtaking the Bavarians. The Bohemian university nation started at only 12%, which gradually rose to 22%. For comparison, after the Kutná Hora Decree, 192 of 221 individuals graduating adhered to the Bohemian university nation.
The rector’s court met every Tuesday and Thursday when necessary, and judicial decisions could be made on other days. Penalties could range from an oral reprimand to a fine, prison sentences, or even expulsion.
How are you satisfied with the current direction of the university that you founded? We are pleased that Charles University has set itself the goal of being a university for the third millennium in the best sense of the words. That means a university that is free, confident, and bound in tradition while predicting and helping to create the future of study in fields taught in its halls; a modern institution, inspired and open to the world, able to integrate various impulses, and prestigious not only in a Czech or European context, but globally.
How was the interview created? The answers to the questions were created according to facts listed in the Dějiny Univerzity Karlovy I (1347/48–1622), ed. M. Svatoš; the university’s founding charter also served as a source, as did the university’s Long-term Plan 2016–2020.
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What Remains Hidden in the Portraits of Charles IV Did Charles IV really look like the image we have of him in pictures? How did his rather wild younger period affect his health? Thanks to the thorough anthropologic research of Professor Emanuel Vlček, we now know the answers to these questions. The research was conducted, among other places, at the Institute of Anatomy at the First Faculty of Medicine. text by Lucie Kettnerová photo by ČTK, Thinkstock, Jiří Hroník
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The most thorough analysis of Charles IV so far was carried out during the 600th anniversary of his death. The skeletal remains were removed from the royal tomb on December 6, 1976, and examined for almost two years by the Anthropologic Department of the National Museum, then presided over by Professor Vlček. However, as the National Museum lacked the necessary laboratory equipment, major research was carried out in the Institute of Anatomy at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, near Charles Square. “We were in touch with Professor Vlček from the beginning and he told us about several of Charles IV major injuries and their healing, so we knew practically everything about him. He also gave a special lecture on April 26, 1978 to present all his findings,” Professor Radomír Čihák said. If the remains were transported today, they would be probably escorted by security services. But safety wasn’t a big issue in the 1970s, so the researchers had no problem carrying the skull in an ordinary plastic shopping bag. The anthropologists also had to refrain from any kind of awe during the research. “When you need to see something on a skull, it’s rather impossible to have a huge amount of reverence. You have to grab the bone and hold it so you can see what you need. Research had already been going on for some time, and Professor Vlček had been gradually examining all the royal tombs in Bohemia, so we were used to royalty and didn’t feel any difference after all those skulls,” Čihák recalled.
When Charles’s remains were moved in past centuries, several small bones from the arms and legs got lost, together with three teeth, and other parts of the body.
The secret scar The skeletal remains are really quite telling, and historians are currently facing a new situation: Their information doesn’t come from a written source (including the writer’s views), but unbiased scientific fact. Charles IV’s skull proves that the sovereign was brachycephalic, something he most likely inherited from both of his parents. He had a long, narrow face. Three teeth are missing in the upper right jaw, but they fell out postmortem. “When Charles’s remains were moved in past centuries, several small bones from the arms and legs got lost, together with three teeth, and other parts of the body,” Professor Čihák said. The king’s teeth were entirely healthy. There’s just a bit of decay and a huge amount of teeth abrasion; very common up until the 19th century. “When flour was ground by grindstones, it was mixed with gravel that wore down the teeth. This prevented cavities as the enamel wore away to fresh tissue,” Čihák added.
Want more information on the life and death of Charles IV? Visit our Exhibition The Second Life of Charles IV. The vernissage will take place on the 12th of May 2016 in Karolinum.
The skull also bears the effects of several injuries. One of them, well healed, is a slash from the left superciliary arch across the bridge of his nose under his right eye socket. The nasal bones are deflected to the left due to this injury. Charles IV’s nose was therefore a bit askew, but it wasn’t very noticeable. “The interesting fact is that he must have had a scar on his skin, something quite striking, but you can’t see it on any portrait,” Professor Čihák remarked. In other words, his portrait makers improved the king’s looks. Consequences of a tournament A serious injury, with lifelong consequen ces, is visible on the lower jaw. The chin was broken and rammed inside, which resulted in thickened bone strips and a reinforced bone surface on the bottom edge of the chin. A big blow to the chin caused a rupture of the joints connecting the jaw with the bone. When they were attached, a deformation occurred and the joint projections moved, so it seemed from the side that the emperor had a slight malocclusion. This injury was most probably caused at one of the tournaments the ruler was so keen on. He might have been hit by an opponent’s lance right on the chin. The injury must have occurred in autumn of 1350, when the king was ill for four months and the cause wasn’t revealed to the public. Even Pope Clemens VI (formerly Cardinal Pierre Roger de Rosières, Charles’s French teacher) was told it was just general indisposition. There are also deformations on Charles’s spine. Instead of typical convex front arches in the cervical and lumbar area, there is a back-curved arch, and the left-side joint projections on the cervical spine contain many bone extrusions that deform it. The big blow to the chin threw Charles’s head back, and that’s the moment where → experts’ viewpoint’s begin to differ.
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Health check: Charles IV
Associate professor Ramba, a stomatologist, believes the spine deformation was caused by the bottom of the helmet. Professor Vlček, on the other hand, thinks it was the rim of the armour. “I’d agree with Professor Vlček, as most changes occurred on the sixth cervical vertebra, whereas the helmet didn’t reach past the third. Therefore, a blow to the chin threw the head back, caused the spine injury, and a haemorrhage to the spinal canal. The result was paralysis of all four limbs, and it took about four months for the haemorrhage to be absorbed and for the injury to heal,” Professor Čihák described. Such an injury was certainly fatal in the middle ages, and the fact that there was only a small malocclusion and the limbs recovered is the result of top medical care provided by experienced healers, probably Italians. The house crest Detailed research also revealed that Charles IV had a cleft sacrum – the arches of the first sacral vertebra were not united, and the spinal canal was open in the back
between the 3rd and 5th sacral vertebrae. Today this condition is quite frequent; it’s an innate variation. Professor Vlček found this cleft in every Luxembourg he examined – John of Luxembourg, Wenceslas IV, Moravian Luxembourgs, and even Ladislas Posthumous, the grandson of Sigismund of Luxembourg, a Luxembourg after his mother. And there’s one more interesting thing on Charles IV’s pelvis: the extrusions from the bottom of the sciatic bone into the periosteum bear witness to the king’s frequent horse riding. “This part of the ruler’s body was quite battered as he crossed Europe several times on horseback,” Professor Čihák said. Treacherous pneumonia The cut sternum suggests the body was mummified. Even a big sponge was found, probably stored in the abdominal cavity, containing three to three-and-a-half-litres of embalming fluid. The upper limbs are strong and healthy, only the clavicle is de-
formed – the deflexio claviculae, i.e. a slight bend of the bone from the shoulder blade towards the sternum, is missing. Professor Vlček believes the cause was a different posture due to the spinal changes. Both radii are missing as well, but they were probably lost centuries ago when the remains were moved. The left elbow bone is also deformed. It was broken near the end in the cartilage area. As the bone grows more from the lower cartilage, the bone ended up being 17 mm shorter than the other. The cartilage naturally disappears at the end of growth, between the 16th and 18th year. The missing 17 mm indicates that the injury occurred a bit earlier, approximately when Charles IV was 15. Most small hand bones have been lost, yet the extrusions on the preserved parts of fingers bear clear signs of gout. “We know that Charles IV trained his fingers. When he gave audiences, he cut
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The relics of Charles IV
small tree branches. This was good exercise and rehabilitation, as gout fits are painful and unpleasant. Those extrusions are caused by crystals of uric acid, typical for a meat-based diet,” Professor Čihák explained. This indicates that the king was no ascetic at all, at least when it came to meat consumption. There are a few more interesting findings on the legs. There’s a trace of a haemorrhage in the knee joint, and a structural change within the bone. So the knee must have been hit strongly, but not broken. The left fibula bears traces of a fracture, but well healed. The last and fatal injury to Charles IV was a fracture of the left femur neck, which apparently occurred in early November 1378. This injury confined Charles to bed, and on November 29, the Emperor died of pneumonia that the surgeons couldn’t prevent.
It seems, then, that Charles IV has already revealed everything about himself. As good as it gets The remains of Charles IV, as well as the remains of other kings, were examined by Professor Vlček very thoroughly; yet there’s a question of whether modern imaging technology could reveal more. “I think the anthropologists did their best. The x-rays were carried out at Professor Sehr at the Third Faculty of Medicine, who used a very sensitive device, so the images are just perfect. In my opinion, we can’t discover anything more. It seems, then, that Charles IV has already revealed everything about himself.”
Professor Radomír Čihák started working at the Institute of Anatomy at Charles University in the first semester of his medical studies. He was the chairman of the institute between 1970 and 1990. He’s currently the Professor Emeritus at the institute. In his research, he focuses on developmental morphology of the musculoskeletal system and biomechanics. He’s active at the University of the Third Age, and is the author of an anatomy textbook. Professor Emanuel Vlček started examining the skeletal remains of Bohemian kings in 1955. He gradually examined the remains of the kings of the Přemyslid, Luxembourg, and Habsburg dynasties, as well as the skeletons of St. John of Nepomuk, Albrecht of Wallenstein, and Bedřich Smetana. He has examined approximately 60 graves at Prague Castle alone.
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Step-by-Step Through the Coronation of Charles IV A historical royal procession will snake through Prague on September 3–4 to mark the legendary coronation of Charles IV and his wife Blanche of Valois. This is part of the Coronation of Charles IV as Bohemian King, project, the goal of which is to reconstruct the coronation ceremony according to the Ordo ad coronandum Regem Boemorum. text by Lucie Kettnerová photo by Petr Šálek, Thinkstock, Wikimedia Commons
The date was September 2, 1347, when Roman King Charles Luxembourg and French Princess Blanche of Valois went through an hours-long ceremony to become the Bohemian king and queen. Almost 670 hundred years later, historians will try to reconstruct this event faithfully, including the pilgrimage to Vyšehrad. “The sovereign will speak on September 3, accompanied by Prague Archbishop Ernest of Pardubice and leading noblemen at Vyšehrad, where he will first visit the Rotunda of St. Martin, the foundation of the Romanesque basilica of St. Lawrence, and finally the basilica of St. Peter and Paul, where just like in 1347 the future king will symbolically accept the satchel and bast sandals of legendary first Bohemian prince Přemysl Oráč (‘the Ploughman’) from the hands of the brothers of the Vyšehrad monestary”, said Mgr. Miroslav Smaha, the head of the project and a doctoral student of History of Christian Art at the Catholic Theological Faculty. From here, the procession will set out across the historical centre of the
city on the so-called King’s Road back to Prague Castle, which will probably be of greatest interest to onlookers. The coronation procession will certainly be intriguing for visitors to Prague, both large and small. It will take place a day later and will lead from Hradčanské Square to Old Town Square, where the coronation celebration will take place in the form of a court banquet and mediaeval tournament. A Science Project, Not a Carnaval Attraction “Our goal will be to recreate the mediaeval coronation liturgy as faithfully as possible and show the atmosphere of the ceremony, where the ruler binds himself to follow Christ and rule justly. We can’t perform a complete re-enactment because of time and space requirements. The coronation lasted a day and a half with all the ceremonies. Just listening to the hours-long mass would be very difficult for today’s audiences,” Smaha said.
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Map of the torchlight procession
Prague Castle Hradčanské Square Loretánská Pohořelec Úvoz Nerudova Lesser Town Square Charles Bridge Křižovnické Square Karlova Old Town Square Celetná Ovocný trh Rytířská Havelská Spálená Charles Square A copy of the St. Wenceslas crown will be borrowed for the ceremony, while replicas of the gothic sceptre and orb for the king and queen will need to be produced so that they correspond to their probable appearance prior to the mid−14th century. A coronation robe and other clothing will also be reproduced as faithfully as possible, bringing in many historians and art historians not only from Charles University.
Vyšehradská Vratislavova Vyšehrad
The coronation celebration will mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of Holy Roman Emperor, Bohemian King, and Charles University founder Charles IV. The project is being organised under the auspices of Charles University and the City of Prague.
charles university is the place
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to study egyptology When the magazine Heritage Daily published its annual top ten list of the most important archaeological finds for 2015, the Czech Institute of Egyptology placed third with its discovery of the tomb of Queen Khentkaus III in Abusir. Every discovery made by Czech researchers in Egypt creates a wave of interest. When the phone rings at the institute, it’s not just the local media on the line, but the BBC, CNN, or National Geographic. Studying at the Charles University Faculty of Arts may look romantic, but staying in Egyptology means hard work, discomfort, and the heat and dust of the Egyptian desert. It’s a life that’s only for those who love it. Researchers are rewarded with artefacts and human remains that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years under the hot sand, waiting to be discovered and add another piece to the mosaic that is ancient Egyptian history. Over the next few pages, we’ll explore the history and current activities of the Czech Institute of Egyptology. text by Lucie Kettnerová PHOTO by
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Fulfilling the Pharaoh’s Wishes The One in Charge of Her Souls – that’s the meaning of Queen Khentkaus III’s name. She was the reason the whole world once again took notice of Czech Egyptology. The recent discovery of her tomb in Abusir was another piece to the puzzle of Egypt’s 5th Dynasty. “In Egyptology, the most important thing is not just what you find, but how you document it, how you explain it, and how you interpret it in the broader context,” says Professor Miroslav Bárta. PHOTO BY Martin Frouz
Responding to a serious lack of information regarding the 5th Dynasty, current Czech projects in Egypt have been concentrating on archaeological explorations of the pyramid field of Abusir since the 1960s. Focusing on structures related to the 5th Dynasty of the 25th and 24th century BCE, Bárta and his team uncover rare items from the sand close to the ancient capital of the Old Kingdom empire, Memphis. Following in the footsteps of Professor Miroslav Verner, who among other achievements discovered the pyramid complex of King Raneferef, the team is exploring a tomb complex built in the same era. The rectangular tomb contains two parts: an aboveground superstructure built of limestone and underground burial apartments. It’s important to note that this tomb is one of four mastabas arranged in a single row: two are tombs of royal family members that have already been explored, while the fourth is still waiting for us. Bárta hopes that “when the research is finished, we may have the complete story of this particular place.” “It’s like walking up and down a house in the dark with a flashlight in your hand. You turn it on, and you see a part of the house. You see one room, then another…” says Bárta as he watches the darkness of evening slowly engulfing the rooftops of Prague’s Old Town.
Cryptic Inscriptions Returning to the Egyptian findings, Bárta underlines the fact that most of these tombs became targets for thieves and raiders and were seriously damaged after the fall of the Old Kingdom in 2150 BCE. What’s important is, they later became a source of stones for the surrounding buildings. “That’s why we only found the remains of the burial items and parts of a damaged body. Nevertheless, it’s quite an important archaeological discovery,” said Dr. Krejčí who supervised this particular project of the Institute in the field. This has proven very true, as manifested by the worldwide coverage the findings recently received. Keeping that discovery a secret was an adventure of its own. Luckily, our workers are very loyal, which helped to keep it from leaking. “Our contract with the Egyptian government gives the exclusive right and privilege to the Ministry of Antiquities to be the first to announce the discovery,” Bárta explains. However, the most important part of this discovery were the hieratic inscriptions on the walls of the burial chamber written by the builders of the tomb. These inscriptions not only include the name of the queen – Khentkaus – but also her two important titles: “Mother of the King” and “Wife of the King”. This means that one of her sons also became the King of Egypt. “We
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In the 1980s, we were the first to bring geophysical technology to the pyramid fields so we could detect underground structures.
The view from abri to the Great Sand Sea near the Egyptian-Libyan-Sudanese border.
The entrance to the tomb of Judge Inti, excavated by the Czech expedition between 2000 and 2002, Abusir.
believe her husband was probably King Raneferef, discovered before, and the son could be King Shepseskare, buried in Saqqara,” Bárta explained the possible solutions to the inscriptions. As to her position in society, women-mothers played very important roles when new kings were chosen. As kings were polygamous, it was all up to the skill of the mother to push her son onto the throne. And the sons held them in high esteem for that, as mothers legitimized their claims to the throne. Breaking New Technological Ground Credited with an outstanding list of recent discoveries, there are many aspects contributing to the success of Czech Egyptologists. One of the reasons is that members of the team are, as Bárta describes, hard working and dedicated individuals, building on over 50 years of continuous experience. Another great asset is the multidisciplinary nature of the team. “We don’t just copy global trends; we’re actively setting them.” Bárta declared proudly. “In the 1980s, we were the first to bring geophysical technology to the pyramid fields so we could detect underground objects. We were also the first to use detailed satellite imaging of the pyramid fields, which enabled the production of a special map collection. And we were also among the first to use 3D technology,” Bárta recounted. “Due to our current position in our field, we don’t have to ask for cooperation so often. Other researchers often actively seek us out,” Bárta said. An intriguing example is the collaboration with two Japanese research teams offering prototypes of devices that enable analysis of wall paintings or other artefacts. No one else outside Japan has comparable equipment.
As for the Abusir discoveries, being very rare makes them extremely unique – every single artefact is several thousands of years old. But expectations are not getting out of control. “Even with 25 years of experience in Egypt, you never know what’s going to happen in archaeology,” Bárta said, adding that in Egyptology, the most important thing is not what you find, but how you document it, and how you explain it and interpret it in the broader context. Staying on the subject of discoveries, the future of sites like Abusir is bleak. With rising ground water and sprawling urban development plans, most of the time Czech Egyptologists are both in Egypt and Sudan on a research rescue mission. On a lighter note, one often wonders if archaeologists are afraid of being punished for disturbing the dead’s peace. But as the tombs were raided and robbed ages ago, Bárta affirms that “we’re doing exactly what the ancient Egyptians wanted when they died: To have their names survive through the ages. We revive their names and restore their tombs.”
We’re doing exactly what the ancient Egyptians wanted when they died: To have their names survive through the ages.We revive their names and restore their tombs.
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A Ship Hidden in the Desert
First days of the survey of a wooden ship, revealing of the western part.
The archaeological expedition from the Czech Egyptological Institute, Faculty of Arts of Charles University, uncovered a most unexpected discovery in the southern part of the Abusir pyramid field that underlined the importance of this Old Kingdom necropolis: An 18.5-metre long wooden ship from about 2550 BCE. PHOTO by Veronika Dulíková, Lucie Jirásková, Radana Čechová
Work in the area began in 2009 by uncovering an unusually large mastaba labelled AS 54. Its foundations measured about 53 × 24 metres. The orientation, architectural details, and name of the 3rd Dynasty King Huni discovered on one of the stone bowls placed in the northern burial chamber of the tomb suggests an owner with an exceptional position in the palace hierarchy, who should be buried in the still undiscovered southern shaft. Because of the significant damage, the owner’s name is unknown. “The south facade’s decorations were dark unfired bricks made from Nile mud alternating with bricks made of tafla clay. The resulting effect is similar to the perimeter wall of Djoser’s step pyramid from about the same time,” said Professor Miroslav Bárta, the leader of the expedition and the director of the Czech Egyptological Institute.
A Preserved Find The 18.5 metre-long ship was discovered during last year’s fall expedition during a cleaning of the area to the south of mastaba AS 54. The wooden craft was freely laid on a surface of tafla and surrounded and covered by yellow sand drifts. Although it was found almost 12 metres to the south of the mastaba, its orientation, length, and the ceramic artifacts recovered from its interior clearly show a connection between the mastaba and the ship, both dating to the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th Dynasties. (circa 2550 BCE). “Even though this 4‚500-year old wood is very brittle, the remains of the ship give us a huge amount of information that puts shipbuilding in ancient Egypt in a new light. The wooden planks were joined using wooden pegs, which can still be found in their original spots. The desert sand sur-
Careful extraction and documentation of the Abusir ship will fundamentally contribute to our knowledge of ships in ancient Egypt and their use in burial customs.
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prisingly also preserved plant fibres woven into ropes and located inside the ship near the plank joints. You can also see all the details of the cross joints that held the ship together. It’s the preservation of these plant fibres that make this find unique in Egypt. All these seemingly insignificant details are fundamental discoveries in their own right as most ancient ships have been found in either poor condition, or were cannibalised,” Bárta said. The Czech Egyptological Institute launched a joint project with experts from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University that will lead to a thorough study of the techniques used to build the hull of the ship. A very peculiar discovery The fascinating construction details are not the only elements that make this find unique. The tradition of burying ships in burial grounds was practised in the Early Dynastic period. Ships were buried in royal tombs as well as the mastabas of royal family members and other elites of the time. “It’s really a very peculiar discovery, because ships of this size and construction were only available to the most important members of society; meaning members of the royal family. These facts create room for further discoveries the new season could bring,” Bárta added. Researchers have two basic theories about the ship’s purpose. Either it was part of the burial equipment that was to serve the dead in the afterlife, or it symbolized the solar barges used in the underworld. The rulers of the Old Kingdom appropriated this Early Dynastic tradition and their pyramid complexes are usually accompanied by several ships. “Unfortunately, many of the pits meant for ships were found empty, or only contained layers of brown dust in the shape of the original ship,” Bárta said. The exceptions are Khufu’s two ships in Giza, which were preserved enough to allow modern researchers to rebuild them, but without the plant fibre elements. All the previously discovered ships have all belonged to kings themselves, at least until the new discovery in Abusir. “Careful extraction and documentation of the Abusir ship will fundamentally contribute to our knowledge of ships in ancient Egypt and their use in burial customs. And where you find one ship, you can expect to find more,” Bárta suggested. Further Research Will Tell Us More The discovery is also unique in the context of other ships uncovered in Abusir. The older finds include a completely disintegrat-
Professor Miroslav Bárta, Dr., is the Director of the Czech Egyptological Institute, Faculty of Arts of Charles University. He studied Egyptology and ancient and early mediaeval archaeology at Charles University. After finishing his studies in Hamburg, he completed his doctorate in 1997 and was named an associate professor in 2002, with a full professorship in Egyptology coming in 2009. His main research interests include the archaeology and history of the second and third millennia BCE.
ed ship south of Neferirkare’s pyramid that was one of two vessels buried at the north and south bases of the pyramid, at least according to the sources of the time. Two smaller boats should have been found in a room meant for them in Raneferef ’s mortuary temple. There is also a ship-shaped room in Ptahshepses’s mastaba. However, all of these are significantly younger than the last find. There have also been discoveries of so-called model ships in Abusir, which were part of the elite’s burial customs. The most beautiful have been found in recent years in the southern part of Abusir and date to the time of King Niuserre at the end of the 25th century BCE.
The ship found to the south of mastaba AS 54 hints at the exceptional position of the tomb owner. “Considering that the tomb is not directly adjacent to a royal pyramid, it’s unlikely that it belonged to a member of the royal family. On the other hand, the size of the mastaba and the presence of the ship clearly place the owner of tomb AS 54 among the elite of society at the time with close connections to the ruler. We hope to get more answers in the season that’s beginning in Abusir now,” Bárta added.
The most beautiful vessels have recently been found in the southern part of Abusir and date to the time of King Niuserre at the end of the 25th century BCE.
The survey of the ship discovered in Abusir South in September 2015.
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Czech Egyptological Exploration in Egypt The team of Czech Egyptologists working at the Abusir pyramid field has one of the largest archaeological concessions ever granted by the Egyptian government, and regularly announces important discoveries. So how did a project that was nearly cancelled by the Communists decades ago become such a success? The story is quite exciting… PHOTO BY Radana Čechová, Milan Zemina
The teaching of Egyptology at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University began in the 1920s, but it took another 40 years to open the Czech Egyptological Institute. The decision came after the announcement of an international UNESCO campaign to save the Nubian cultural and historical heritage threatened by the Aswan High Dam project in the late 1950s. The dam was to provide energy to power the industrial development of Egypt and trigger economic and social changes in the country after its revolution. The new dam would flood a Nile Valley area about 500 km long and up to 50 km wide, including the southern part of Egypt (Lower Nubia) and northern part of Sudan (Upper Nubia) with invaluable archaeological sites and famous monuments such as the temple at Abu Simbel. Facing this threat, Egypt appealed to UNESCO for help. Instead of a financial contribution, the Czechoslovak government sent its Egyptologists to take part in the international archaeological operation in Nubia. In conjunction with this decision, and with the consent of the Egyptian government, the Czechoslovak Egyptological Institute was established in 1958 at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University and a few months later it opened a branch in Cairo.
First Time in Egypt The establishment of the Institute was largely facilitated by the organisational abilities of Professor Zbyněk Žába; a student of the founder of Czech Egyptology, Professor František Lexa. Professor Žába led the expedition that received two archaeological concessions in Lower Nubia covering some 70 kilometres of the Nile Valley. In the assigned area, Czech experts carried out epigraphic, archaeological, geodetical, and anthropological explorations for six years. During its work in Nubia, the expedition recorded and saved many monuments and made important finds, including: the discovery of a lost temple in Tafa, about 250 historical rock inscriptions, over five thousand petroglyphs, etc. The Egyptian government greatly appreciated this contribution from the Czechoslovak expedition, and granted a prolonged stay in Egypt to continue the exploration and restoration of Egyptian monuments in a locality chosen by the Czech scholars. After consulting on the choice of a suitable location for longterm research in Egypt with Jaroslav Černý, a renowned Czech professor of Egyptology at Oxford University, Zbyněk Žába opted for the Abusir pyramid field in the heart of → the Memphite Necropolis.
Instead of a financial contribution, the Czechoslovak government sent its Egyptologists to take part in the international archaeological operation in Nubia.
Professor Miroslav Verner
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Professor Miroslav Verner (right in the middle) is a honorary member of the German and Austrian institutes of archaeology. For a long time he has been a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Egyptologists and also the UNESCO committee for the Museum of Nubia and the Museum of Egyptian Civilisation. He focuses on the archaeology, history, and palaeography of Egypt in the 3rd millennium B.C.E. He was the director of the Czechoslovak (then Czech) Egyptological Institute at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University between 1975 and 2000 and until 2011 he held the licence for archaeological excavations in Abusir.
A dinner of the Czechoslovak Egyptologist team with the rais Abdo el-Kereti, whose family had cooperated with the expedition for over 50 years.
“The choice was not random at all. Apart from the archaeological potential of Abusir, it also reflected the budget of the Institute, which was quite modest at the time. As a matter of fact, Abusir lies close to Cairo, so the establishment of a special field base wasn’t needed. We could commute instead,” Professor Miroslav Verner said of the choice of Abusir. He began to study Egyptology and archaeology in 1960 when the programme was opened to new students at the Faculty of Arts for the first time after a long break. In 1964, still as a student, he took part in the Nubian campaign and visited Abusir for the first time. Egyptology at Risk Normalisation, as the period after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia is known, was a disaster for the Institute. Some of the staff members went into exile, while others lost their job for political reasons. In September 1971, the Dean of the
Faculty of Arts issued a decree closing the institute as a “redundant institution with a staff that includes potential émigrés”. “In the mid 1970s, I remained the only Egyptologist at the faculty. Two students of Egyptology should have been redirected to Arabic studies. Sometimes even I was very hesitant whether it made sense to stay at the faculty. However, as Jaroslav Černý stressed to me, somebody had to stay and try to save Egyptology in Prague. Otherwise the work of several generations of Czech Egyptologists would have been lost,” said Professor Verner. He pleaded with the faculty and university authorities that the archaeological agreements between Czechoslovakia and Egypt and Czech obligations in Abusir cannot be terminated unilaterally. Moreover, the consequences of such a decision for the archaeological monuments already under exploration would be disastrous. Luckily, several influential members of the Commu-
nist party at the faculty shared this opinion too. They helped Professor Verner convince the management of the faculty and university that it would be a big mistake to leave Egypt. “The new dean then decided to visit Egypt personally in the mid-1970s to assess the position of the Institute and see its archaeological concession. After his return to Prague, he decided that the work in Egypt should continue,” said Verner, who was then commissioned to build a new archaeological team. Struggle for a new archaeological concession Up till then, Czech Egyptologists in Abusir worked according to the contracts signed annually by Professor Žába. These were issued only for “cleaning” the tomb of the vizier Ptahshepses at Abusir, i. e., removing the layers of sand that buried the large and beautifully decorated tomb. This type of licence enabled the Egyptologists to
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only work in the tomb and gave them the right to publish the finds. Professor Verner succeeded in replacing this very limited concession with one covering the whole as-yet-unexplored part of the pyramid cemetery at Abusir. It was to the south of the limit where German archaeologists finished their explorations of the cemetery at the beginning of the 20th century. The type of licence was also changed from “cleaning” to “excavation,” which gave the researchers the right to take part in the finds. (Today, all excavated artefacts must stay in Egypt). However, the path to the new concession was not as easy as it might seem at first. Shortly after submitting the application for the new concession, Professor Verner was invited to attend a meeting in a resthouse of the Egyptian Antiquities Service at the Step Pyramid in Saqqara. He thought it would be a social event, but quite the opposite was true. After a friendly reception with a cup of good Egyptian tea, he was asked to present his future plans in Abusir and defend them in front of the leading Egyptian archaeologists. “Suddenly, I understood I was being tested – the change of licence was quite a fundamental matter and I was completely unknown to Egyptian archaeologists. However, the meeting finished on a friendly note, and I got the licence.” The licence was very generous, one of the largest ever granted to a foreign archaeological team on the pyramid fields in Egypt. Happy Days Are Here Again At first, research was backed by very modest financial support and the most basic technology was out of reach to the team. Luckily, the first season on the new concession was more than successful. Czech archaeologists succeeded in finding the tombs of two princesses and one prince. One of the tombs had beautiful surviving wall paintings. The decorated tomb ceiling had collapsed onto the sarcophagus in the burial chamber shortly after the tomb was built, which prevented tomb robbers from
Up till then, Czech Egyptologists in Abusir worked according to the contracts signed annually by Professor Žába.
plundering it. The discovery of beautiful items from the princesses’ burial equipment helped strengthen the position of the team, and Egyptology in general, at home. Another excavation began in the same season in a small pyramid complex on the southern side of the pyramid of Neferirkare. “Shortly after the opening of the excavation, we discovered that the small pyramid complex belonged to the king’s wife Khentkaus, who surprisingly bore not only the same name, but also the same title of ‘Mother of Two Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt’ as a queen whose large stepped tomb had been discovered almost 50 years earlier in Giza,” said Professor Verner. Two tombs belonging to a queen of the same name and title? Was it the same person, or two different queens? Discovering the answer took time and thorough study: Indeed, there were two queens of the same name and of the same uncommon title at the turn of the 4th and 5th Dynasty! But their unusual title, never again repeated in the long history of ancient Egypt, continued to remain a mystery. Another piece to the puzzle came with the random discovery by Egyptian archaeologists of several blocks with inscriptions and scenes in Sahure’s pyramid complex at Abusir. It revealed that twins were born in Sahure’s family. The famous story from the Westcar papyrus about the divine birth of the first three kings of the 5th Dynasty – Weserkaf, Sahure, and Neferirkare – as triplets suddenly appeared in a new light. To sum up, the examination of all available evidence seems to indicate that not triplets, but three sets of twins were born in the royal family at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th Dynasty. However, only twice did the twins ascend to the throne. If this theory is correct, the mysterious title of the two queens named Khentkaus may reflect the extraordinary situation when their twins ruled, one after the other. Today, the queen buried in Giza is referred to as Khentkaus I, and the owner of the Abusir tomb is Khentkaus II. Czech Egyptologists discovered the tomb of another, as yet unknown queen named Khentkaus in Abusir, Khentkaus III, who was probably the spouse of Raneferef. Her tomb lies southeast of the pyramid complex of Raneferef, the son of Neferirkare and Khentkaus II. Surprisingly, Khentkaus III also was the mother of a king. Which one? The answer may still lie under the sands of Abusir.
1919 František Lexa becomes a private associate professor of Egyptology at Charles University 1925 A seminar in Egyptology established at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University 1958 The Czechoslovak Institute of Egyptology established at Charles University (with a branch in Cairo) 1961–1965 The Czechoslovak Institute of Egyptology participates in the UNESCO salvage campaign in Nubia 1976 Survey of the new concession in the southern part of the pyramid field at Abusir begins 1978 Discovery of the pyramid complex of Khentkaus II 1981 Discovery of the pyramid complex of Raneferef 1991
First season of excavations in the large cemeteries of officials in Abusir South
1995–2002 Survey of the tomb complex of the Vizier Qar and his family 1996 Discovery of the intact burial chamber in the shaft tomb of the priest Iufaa 2007 Discovery of the intact burial chamber of the priest Neferinpu 2012 Discovery of the tomb complex of Princess Sheretnebty
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In the beginning, I had no idea how time-consuming this field is, but I’ve never regretted my decision to study Egyptology.
Document-making in the rock-cut tomb of the dignitary Nefer.
If You Love It, It’s a No-Brainer Veronika Dulíková always wanted to study Egyptology, but there were no spots open when she finished high school. Yet patience is one of Veronika’s virtues, so now she can watch the fascinating discoveries in Abusir first hand.
Dulíková’s journey to Abusir began in junior high school with a fateful trip to her favourite bookstore. “One day I discovered “A Journey to the Seven Wonders of the World”, a wonderful book by Vojtěch Zamarovský with a picture of pyramids on the cover. So I put it on my Christmas wishlist that year, and we still have the picture of me holding it, all smiling and happy under the Christmas tree,” she said. It took until the spring of 2010, but Dulíková finally joined the team in Egypt and was able to take part in a journey to the Cave of Swimmers and Cave of Beasts on the borders of Egypt, Libya, and Sudan, where the Egyptian civilisation was probably born. “That expedition taught me so much about rock art, the desert at night, changing landscapes, and more than anything else, artefacts from the time of the pharaohs so far from the Nile Valley. In the beginning, I had no idea how time-consuming this field is, but I’ve never regretted my decision to study Egyptology.”
PHOTO BY Martin Frouz, Zdeňka Sůvová, Radana Čechová
At the Site The local field workers are great to work with, Dulíková said, adding that they treat all the female researchers with respect; as
though they were family. Some even invite team members into their homes, bring sweets, or make dinner for the researchers. Communication usually takes place in Arabic, so Dulíková knows the basics and how to discuss the most important things. Each person has a number of jobs at the site. Besides documenting research, which includes drawing plans, taking photos, or making find cards, Dulíková also has a number of other roles. “I’m a driver of one of our off-road Toyotas; I do the shopping; or in certain cases I also negotiate with the local foremen. It’s always a great experience for me, and often I’m not really sure of my limits.” Lucky Discoveries Though Dulíková has only a few years of experience under her belt, she’s already taken part in several remarkable discoveries. This includes two amazing sets of sculptures 4‚500 years old in the tomb complex of Princess Sheretnebty. The first set was part of the tomb of the official Nefer, which also included a beautiful false door where the colours looked incredibly fresh. “Many people told me that you discover a thing like that once in a lifetime. But it took us
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A survey of an intact shaft of a child in Nefer’s tomb.
Veronika Dulíková is currently a student of a postgraduate programme in Egyptology. Her specialisation is the history, archaeology, society, and administration of the Old Kingdom period. She has participated in archaeological expeditions in Egypt since 2010. She’s currently creating a database of dignitaries from the area of the Memphite necropolis. She’s also an editor for “Prague Egyptological Studies”, a specialised journal.
A visit at rais Marzuq (right).
Though Dulíková has only a few years of experience under her belt, she’s already taken part in several remarkable discoveries.
a short time to discover another wonderful set of ten sculptures in Princess Sheretnebty’s tomb,” she added. “I remember the day of the discovery – it was November 4, 2012 – the 90th anniversary of the discovery of Tutanchamon’s tomb. I recall how we felt, our feelings and emotions, so I simply can’t imagine what Howard Carter must have felt. I bet it must have been close to a heart attack,” Dulíková added. When she’s not out at the dig, Dulíková is finishing her thesis covering the changes in society, religion, and state administration during the reign of King Niuserre in the middle of the 5th Dynasty. Dulíková has been working to create a database of officials since 2006 with personal names and titles that has been a huge help in her work. The database also shows family connections. Charting Out the 5th Dynasty “Thanks to my work with mathematician Radek Mařík, methods of complex network analysis (CNA) have been used for the quantification of a number of historical and social aspects of ancient Egypt in the 5th Dynasty. It’s unique in its scope,” Dulíková
said. In this period, rulers started to, among other things, marry their daughters to high-ranking dignitaries. And a chart of the royal family, the daughters, their husbands, officials, and all the others at court helps explain these relations. Dulíková also said she’s interested in beads and other jewellery from the Old Kingdom. “During the autumn expedition in 2014, my job was drawing documentation of beads that were found with one of the officials whose burial chamber had remained intact. He had these beads on his neck, arms, and legs. I took them and succeeded in reconstructing a necklace made of faience beads. Some of the beads had been originally covered with gold foil,” Dulíková said. Another two sets of bead jewels – belonged to a woman and a child – were found in the same tomb, thus it offers us the remarkable comparative material. The goal is not only to get an idea of these jewels appearance, but also to make copies of these jewels and exhibit them in the Czech Republic.
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Everything In the Care of Books Written Stays in Egypt One Family on Walls
Researchers would not be able to dig without a concession. Interestingly enough, Egyptian legislation stipulates that the licence holder is not the institution, but a physical person. Right now, it is issued to Miroslav Bárta.
The Czech archaeological concession in Abusir is about 2 km², making it the largest foreign concession in Egypt. The site lies about 20 km southwest of Cairo between the Giza and Saqqara pyramid fields.
Since 1989, the antiquities law states that the finder does not have the right to a share in the discovered artefact. In the past, Czech Egyptologists acquired items like stone vessels and coral jewell ry from the pyramid complex of Pharaoh Neferefre that are now at the Náprstek Museum.
The el-Kerétí family has worked with Czech archaeological missions to Egypt (in Abusir, during the UNESCO mission in Nubia, and in the western desert) as foremen (reis) for more than 50 years.
The undisturbed burial chamber of the priest Iufaa included not only a unique set of burial items, but also broad set of surviving religious texts, including passages from the Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead.
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PHOTO by Martin Frouz
Taking Careful of Summers Off the Khamsin
Four-Legged Water Carrier
The papyrus fragments found in the Abusir mortuary temples allow an insight into how these institutions worked and what the administration looked like as the pyramids were being built. Their construction lasted decades.
When the magazine Heritage Daily published its annual top ten list of the most important archaeological finds for 2015, the Czech Institute of Egyptology placed third with its discovery of the queen mother’s tomb in Abusir.
The average temperature in Egypt is 22.5 °C, but that jumps to 40 °C in the summer. In order to beat the heat, researchers plan missions for February to May and September to November.
When the expedition is in full operation, a donkey carriers water canisters from the village of Abusir every day. The donkey belongs to Mahmud, who has been working with Czech Egyptologists for decades.
The Khamsin is a dry, hot wind typical for Egypt. Translated, the name means fifty, which is the number of days the desert wind lasts.
in North Bohemia
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Address Nádražní 119 Hostinné 543 71 Czech Republic GPS N 50.5399491 E 15.7256848
Many people think that in order to see the beauty of classical sculpture in person, they need to visit dozens of museums all around Europe. What they don’t know is that the Institute of Classical Archaeology, part of Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, operates a collection with dozens of expert castings just a short drive from Prague. The selection of famous and less well-known classical sculptures began at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. To this day, it continues to be used to teach students of classical archaeology, ancient Greek, or art history. It has also served as inspiration for leading Czech artists, including Josef Václav Myslbek. He even took part in the creation of several statue replications, including Athena and the satyr Marsyas. Taking in the collection is certainly worth your time, even if they are just “copies”. The statues are covered in a special substance that provides the patina of the original structure, colour, and material. There are some 550 pieces, with about a third on display in the Classical Art Gallery in the Franciscan Monastery in Hostinné. Another third of the collection will be exhibited in the beautiful baroque chateau Duchcov beginning in June 2017. text BY Ed. PHOTO BY Jiří Hroník
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Exciting Times for Particle Physics What was the beginning of the universe like and what happened after the Big Bang? Dedicated researchers working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), including those from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University, seek to answer these and other questions using state-of-the-art particle accelerators. text by Rudolf Pfefferkorn PHOTO by CERN, Jiří Hroník
Since its establishment in 1954, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has built several accelerators and currently runs the world’s largest accelerator, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University have participated in international projects at the facility since the beginning of the 1990s.
The universe was born in the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and we have much to learn about how that took place. CERN’s accelerators allow us to glimpse the mysteries of how our universe came to exist. The collisions of subatomic particles accelerated to high energies in underground tunnels many miles long simulate conditions that occurred shortly after the Big Bang. The collisions between the particles help scientists learn how the universe developed and how Nature works on the deepest level. In CERN, the vast complex at the French-Swiss border, scientists and students of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University study a vast array of topics, including Higgs Boson decay. A large group of them collaborates with scientists from almost 40 countries as part of the ATLAS experiment. They analyse data on collisions of protons and lead ions accelerated in the 27 km-long LHC tunnel to near the speed of light. The tiny bunches of protons smash into each other 40 million times a second inside the ATLAS detector hidden 100 metres underground. The ATLAS, the size of Notre Dame cathedral, records and measures all the secondary particles flying from the collision point. Research performed at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and other CERN facilities requires intense cooperation. There’s no such thing as a one-man show at CERN. Over 10‚000 researchers from 600
universities and other institutions cooperate in experiments, while CERN itself employs over 3‚000 people. It’s all teamwork. Including publications. Driven by Curiosity The pure spirit of science – curiosity and the desire to explore the secrets of our world – is the driving force at CERN. The focus on basic research and the struggle to discover the laws of the universe results in amazing scientific achievements, and sometimes in some unexpected practical results. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee suggested a tool that would allow large CERN teams to share documents and communicate effectively – and that’s how the concept of the World Wide Web was born. Computer networks had existed before, but this system of servers and browsers gave the internet its real power. “If a society doesn’t invest in basic research, it’s going to start losing the foun-
In his lecture at Charles University, Professor Heuer said that current technology can’t be used to plan the next decades of research.
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People do science, like physics, not because they are forced to, but because they enjoy the intellectual challenge, they are constantly exploring new topics, and want to face new challenges.
Associate professor Jiří Dolejší is the director of the Institute of Particle and Nuclear Physics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University. He studies heavy ion collisions as part of the ATLAS experiment. His students and colleagues, together with others from institutions such as Columbia University, have gained a new and essential knowledge of the behaviour of partons in quark-gluon plasma.
dation for applied research at some point,” CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer said. Though seemingly impractical, basic research has given the world TVs, the electric light, and microwave ovens; and CERN did its part by developing things like the world’s first touchscreen. When Technology Lags Behind Scientific Needs As CERN’s research balances on the cutting edge of human understanding, even available state-of-the-art technology often isn’t good enough and better tools need to be developed. Equipment soon becomes outdated. That’s why CERN plans to continue to upgrade the LHC accelerator in the coming years. In effect, researchers at CERN seek to discover what really makes the universe tick; what’s really going on at the micro level. For example, there is still little known about the interactions of the Higgs Boson; the so-called god particle whose existence was almost certainly confirmed in 2012, but much is still left to learn about Higgs interactions.
Even while the LHC will be used and upgraded for more than a decade, a new accelerator is being developed that will come into use in 20 or 30 years. In his lecture at Charles University, Professor Heuer said that current technology can’t be used to plan the next decades of research. Researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics are not only pushing the limits at CERN now, but they are also helping develop a new, possibly 100 km-long accelerator. CERN, Our Home Some 200 Czech researchers visit CERN every year, participating in CERN scientific life far more than corresponds to the Czech financial contribution, which is about 11 million Swiss francs, or about 1% of the organisation’s total budget. Czech institutes that are involved in CERN projects constantly coordinate topics and funds so that researchers can choose their favourite topics and focus on them. Participation of master and graduate students from Charles University in CERN experiments is common, but Professor
Dolejší also said that the amount of time researchers or students spend in Geneva isn’t as important, because they can analyse data from Prague and discuss the results via video conferences. However, if they need to work directly at CERN, planning and preparation for the trip only takes a couple of minutes. “If you’re planning to go to a conference, it usually takes a lot of time to sort out all the formal issues and requirements. However, if you want to go to CERN, all you have to do is to fill out the travel order, click on accommodation right at CERN (the organisation runs its own hostel), and buy a plane ticket on the internet. You’re all set in fifteen minutes. Then you fly to Geneva and board the Y bus that will take you right to the CERN gate,” Dolejší said. “We all have regularly updated ID cards that grant access to CERN. We also have keys to our studies, usually shared with many other colleagues; registered notebooks; and even our own coffee cans in the cupboard. In short, it’s our home away from home.”
Infarction can not be destroyed like smallpox We can not eradicate infarction the way we did smallpox. People will always die of heart attacks, says Professor Petr Widimský, who helped implement the early treatment of myocardial infarction on a global level. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Thinkstock, Robert Starý
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The important thing is prevention: it is most essential that patients never have a heart attack in the first place. “The fact that we are good at infarction treatment doesn’t mean that cardiology will become redundant. Not in my time, at least,” says Professor Petr Widimský. “In fact, it’s the other way round – the number of patients is growing. In the past, many people died of infarction at sixty. Today we know how to save them, so they survive until their eighties or nineties, returning to us with minor infarctions or other diseases.” According to Professor Widimský, infarction will always kill people. “However, there’s a big difference: in the past, it killed 30% of people or even more, now it’s just 4%.” The important thing, he says, is prevention: it is most essential that patients never have heart attacks in the first place. A lot of hard work has been done in the Czech Republic in this area, both in primary prevention (better eating habits, lifestyle, and prevention of smoking) and secondary prevention (pharmacological care for former patients who take drugs preventing repeated infarction). The future is in bio-absorbable materials One of many ways to treat acute infarction is angioplasty (Percutaneous coronary intervention, PCI) in combination with pharmacological treatment. “The treatment starts by administering drugs preventing blood clots in the ambulance. This way, the patient is getting ready for the operation. Then the medication continues – some drugs keep the repaired artery unobstructed, others prevent cardiac arrhythmia or high cholesterol levels to prevent veins from clogging. Pharmacotherapy is, therefore, of the same importance as the PCI,” says Professor Widimský, adding that no more fundamental changes can be expected in this area of cardiology. “We’ve already seen the big change. It’s the fact that the patient reaches the catheterisation room in time.” Nevertheless, smaller steps to improve the treatment are continuous. They include, among others, the clinical research of the use of bio-absorbable stents, currently performed by Professor Widimský and his colleagues. Together with a site in Rotterdam, they are the world’s first institution to apply this method. “We didn’t develop the absorbable stents, but we were the first to implant them in the patients with infarctions. And the results have been very promising so far. However, we’re still in the opening stage of a three-year research project that should confirm their advantages,” says Professor Widimský. The structure of the disease is changing As for the death toll, infarction has a tough competitor in stroke, killing over 50‚000 people every year in the country. “Midsize or big stroke is the cause of death
for a third of patients and half remain seriously paralysed. Only one out of four people return to normal life, which is disastrous,” says Professor Widimský. In the case of infarction, every minute is impor tant; in the case of stroke, every second. People should know that when their arm or leg is paralysed, or when they can’t talk, their time is running out. “We try to do something about it in cooperation with neurologists, but it’s much more difficult than infarction. Now we’re trying as quick an approach to catheterisation as possible. Upon admission of a patient with stroke, we remove the blood clot from the brain right away, without administering thrombolysis. So far, the results have been very promising, but we’re still at the beginning.”
Professor Petr Widimský, FESC, FACC was awarded the Gold Medal of the European Society of Cardiology for his global contribution to myocardium infarction treatment. As the chairman of the Czech Society of Cardiology, he was also given the main WHO award in 2014. The leading Czech cardiologist, he was the initiator of randomised studies PRAGUE 1 and 2, whose outcomes resulted in a global revolution of myocardium infarction treatment. The studies confirmed the benefits of transporting patients with infarction to catheterisation intervention, angioplasty and PCI even when from within a 100 km distance. In 2011, Professor Petr Widimský was awarded with the National Prize of the Czech Government. Professor Widimský was also the Vice-President of the European Society of Cardiology and is head of the Cardiology department of the University Hospital Královské Vinohrady.
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“Happy” and “Sad” Human Neurons Discovered
A team led by Professor Robert Jech has proven the existence of “emotive neurons” deep in the human brain in the area called the subthalamic core. It is the first finding of its kind and proof of the important role of the basal ganglia in the development of emotions and moods. Text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by First Faculty of Medicine
The discovery was made by researchers during treatment of advanced-stage Parkinson’s that involves the application of electrodes for deep brain stimulation. “We found the neurons using special micro-electrodes inserted into the brain when looking for the best place to put permanent electrodes for treatment. This gives us a unique opportunity to learn something new about the brain,” said Professor Jech. During the operation, surgeons must hit a specific spot deep in the brain in the subthalamic core which is as small as a grain of rice. The patient is conscious the entire time and communicates with the surgeons, who can thus monitor the effectiveness of the operation or any unwanted effects.
The doctors monitor the response of cells during brain surgery using tiny electrodes, the spikes of which are thinner than a human hair. Their size is comparable to the size of neurons. The spot of the electrode is detected using sound, to which neuron activity is converted. The operating room vibrates with sounds that resemble a motorbike, hail, or driving rain “The sounds of neurons tell us accurately where the electrode is. It’s like traveling – when you’re driving across Europe, you can tell where you are by the language people speak,” Jech said of the way his electrodes work.
During the operation, patients look at pictures commonly used in international testing. These have emotive content: some of them are generally considered positive (such as pictures of food), some are erotic, and some are repugnant. All the while, researchers monitor the brain’s activity. With the patient’s consent, the operation can be interrupted for a while and the inserted electrodes can be used to explore the nearby area and record neuron activity. “We discovered that some neurons only respond to the emotive content of displayed scenes. These neurons only changed their activity if the visual input caused a positive or negative emotion. Other neurons responded exclusively to the intensity of the emotional experience,” says Professor Jech, describing the results of his six years of research. The discovery is important for other branches, showing we can use physical quantities to measure things as abstract as emotions. There is a direct relation between the immaterial, subjective world of emotions, and the physical world of neurons; and this relation can be monitored and measured accurately.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Professor Robert Jech, PhD. performed his research with his colleagues Tereza Serranová, Ph.D., and Tomáš Sieger, and with the cooperation of experts from the Neurologic Ward of the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Na Homolce Hospital, and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University.
Deep Brain Stimulation is a kind of surgery that involves electrodes inserted into certain cores in the brain. Each electrode is connected to a neuro-stimulator implanted under the skin. The electrode sends out impulses with a positive effect on motor system functions. The technique is used for neurological diseases such as dystonia (a disorder with sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting and repetitive movements and results in a lack of control of one’s limbs or body).
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The patent that is saving thousands of critically ill.
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a nightmare for physicians and patients alike. Jaroslav Hrabák and his team have managed to save thousands of people around the world by shortening the length of the bacterial resistance test by an incredible eight to twelve hours. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Thinkstock
The team from Pilsen received a patent for their technique of bacteria comparison. In the case of an epidemic, this technique enables caregivers to tell whether different cases are caused by the same bacteria and helps reveal a specific enzyme that affects the choice of antibiotics. Currently, the laboratory of antibiotic resistance and application of mass spectrometry in microbiology (part of the Biomedical Centre at the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University) is working to expand the national patent to Europe and the U.S. The researchers focus on enterobacteria, which are present in everyone’s digestive system. These bacteria can cause very serious diseases, in some cases fatal. The patented technique using mass spectrometry enables physicians to test the bacterial
Once the bacteria reach the wider environment, the process is almost irreversible. We’re then left with just one option: to develop new antibiotics.
resistance to β-lactam antibiotics that are the only type of drugs that can usually successfully fight the infection. “First, we map the transmission routes to avoid the spread of infection. But we’re also developing new methods of discovering dangerous bacterial resistance to other antibiotics,” said associate professor Hrabák. Bacteria Spreads in Hospitals Bacteria that cause tonsillitis are still sensitive to penicillin, even after it was first used clinically 70 years ago. Enterobacteria are different, though. The problems are primarily caused by bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae, but various strains of Escherichia coli have also proven troublesome recently. In some countries, such as Greece and Italy, these bacteria spread in hospitals and cause up to 50% of all hospital infections. Transmission is usually caused by insufficient disinfection of hands, which can be minimised, but the gradual development of resistance can’t be fully avoided. In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Health supported the development of new hospi-
tal methods and individual cases are thus mostly caused by transporting patients from foreign facilities. The danger, however, is the fact bacteria can spread. “For example, our colleagues from Brno have proven these bacteria have spread to wild birds living near the hospitals. And once the bacteria reach the wider environment, the process is almost irreversi ble. We’re then left with just one option: to develop new antibiotics,” said Hrabák.
Associate professor Jaroslav Hrabák, Ph.D., is manager of the Biomedical Centre at the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, since November 2014. He has been investigating bacterial resistance to antibiotics since 2005, mostly focusing on gram-negative bacteria responding to β-lactams.
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Who’s Better Off: Smetana or Nguyen? After spending hours creating and polishing your CV, the one thing that could derail your chances of employment is the one part you can’t change: your name. At least according to a recent study by Julie Chytilová, Vojtěch Bartoš, Michal Bauer, and Filip Matějka at CERGE-EI and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University. Text by Lucie Kettnerová PHOTO by Jiří Hroník
The study focused on the impact on the economy from a lack of, or inattention to information and his latest research confirmed some theories, that have only been simulated up to now. The team set out to see how much attention is paid by human resource staff to CVs submitted by applicants to determine if racial discrimination plays a role in their evaluation. Lack of Information Causes Bad Decisions Research began with sending out several hundred CVs. The qualifications were the same, but the names were different: some were Czech, some Romany, some Vietnamese. Researchers then kept track of invites to interviews. “Even though the fake applicants had the same education and experience, the number of invitations was only about half in the case of Romany or Vietnamese names. We included a link to a full CV in each email message and we were able to track how
many people clicked these links: Far fewer HRs looked at the Romany/Vietnamese CVs. Therefore, the recruiters obviously made their decisions after glancing at the first sentence in the email, which includes the name of the applicant,” Matějka said. He added that in Belgium, for example, some companies forbid the applicant’s name, gender, or nationality on CVs in the first rounds of interviews. The researchers from CERGE-EI and the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University would now like to try a similar approach in the Czech Republic. “It would be great if we could test it in the state administration. After all, it’s the state that should fight discrimination and other unwanted practices. So far, however, we’ve seen more support from private enterprises,” Matějka said. Short Review Economic theories often tell us that people tend to make the best decisions over time. “However, further investigation shows that assumption not to be true. People some-
times simply make the wrong decision,” Matějka postulated. For example, people rarely choose the cheapest mortgage because they can’t absorb all the necessary information. They either aren’t aware of new products, can’t sort it out, or cannot orientate themselves in the market. They spend too little time comparing offers. “In real life, customers only check two or three banks. If they invested a bit more effort in the process and spent just two more hours comparing and making choices, they would save a lot of money,” Matějka added. According to Matějka, people do basically the same thing when choosing political parties. “Though people often talk politics and have no trouble stating their views regarding certain politicians, but their knowledge is very poor when they are asked about the party’s actual programme. That’s why some parties don’t develop their programmes very much and instead focus on marketing, because voters just don’t pay attention.”
Filip Matějka, Ph.D., graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, and Princeton University. He also presented his doctoral thesis in economics in the U.S. In 2010, he won the Young Economist of the Year award given by the Czech Economic Society. Currently he’s an assistant professor at CERGE-EI and a recipient of a 2015 ERC starting grant. In his research, he focuses on the economic implications of a lack of or failure to pay attention to information. He continues to cooperate with Nobel Prize winner Christopher Sims, who helped develop the theory of rational inattention.
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CLIP on the Forefront of Diagnosing
Associate professor Ondřej Hrušák, Ph.D., is in charge of the flow cytometry lab (CLIP cytometry) at the Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at the Second Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. He works in the diagnostics, monitoring, and research of acute childhood leukaemia. He was dean of the Second Faculty of Medicine Charles University between 2006 and 2014.
Picture a bus. Most of the people are just along for the ride. But the driver is charge of going from point A to point B. Acute leukaemia cells are similar. The affected cells are different from healthy ones in many ways, and the team of associate professor Ondřej Hrušák from the Second Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, works to discover which changes are just “the passengers” and which are in charge of the whole process. Text by Petra Köpplová PHOto by Jan Zima
The Childhood Leukaemia Investigation Prague (CLIP) facility at the Motol teaching hospital examines all Czech cases of children suspected of having acute leukaemia. A group led by Dr. Hrušák focuses mainly on patients bordering between acute lymphoblastic laeukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), usually with the toughest prognoses. “One of the important projects focuses on a sub-type of leukaemia discovered at our site by Dr. Ester Mejstříková. She found that leukaemic cells may change substantially in some patients. The advantage of this sub-type of leukaemia is that we can, even in its early stage, predict that this change will occur during therapy. This means that we are ready for complications should they occur during treatment,” says Hrušák. Tailored Therapy The Motol lab monitors the children continuously, so it’s possible to adapt medication to their current condition and provide gentle yet effective treatment, even outside the Czech Republic. “Just yesterday we received
an email saying there was a child with a borderline type of leukaemia in Santiago, Chile. As we can use the same software for analysis as they use in Chile, we can examine the patient remotely. Comparing our data, we can advise our colleagues on what type of treatment was provided to similar cases in other countries and the results,” says Dr. Hrušák on the advantages of their international research. This research compares treatment of minors globally based on different treatment protocols for different types of leukaemia. Czech scientists in cooperation with their foreign colleagues are helping to gradually improve these protocols. The overall success rate of treating the most frequent acute leukaemia type has reached 90%. “Of course it’s not enough,” said Dr. Hrušák. “First, we want to improve the effectiveness of treatment of the more difficult leukaemia types, including the remaining 10%. And last but not least, we would like to soften the unwanted effects of the treatment. It would be impossible to achieve these goals without international cooperation.”
“Disobedient” Leukaemia Returning to the project based on Dr. Mejstříková’s discovery, we now know that some leukaemia cells change fundamentally during treatment. What’s this change? The acute leukaemia cells –lymphoblasts – are prone to convert to a different type of white blood cells – monocytes. However, this only happens with a specific group of patients. The cells “re-programme” and convert to a completely different cell type only remotely connected to the original leukaemia. “If we discover the factor that enables the lymphoblasts to turn into monocytes, we might be able to explain similar processes in other cells. To keep cell development on the desired track is essential for human beings, as well as other multi-cellular organisms,” said Dr. Hrušák. “So far, we haven’t discovered the cause of the conversion. But we’re trying to find a change at the DNA level for leukaemia subtypes, as it’s usually the factor that drives the change,” said Dr. Hrušák. “We know who the passengers are. Now we’re looking for their drivers.”
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Glacier Watching in Kyrgyzstan It’s an amazing coincidence that two graduates of Charles University participated in the very beginning and conclusion of research into the Amazon headwater. In 1693, the Jesuit Samuel Fritz said: “These are the springs of Amazon.” Almost 300 years later, the true spring of the famous river was finally correctly located by Professor Bohumír Janský in the headwaters of the Apurímac River in the Cordillera Chila range in southern Peru. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Bohumír Janský, Eva Kořínková
These days, Professor Janský has to address various problems with the location and functioning of his instruments on several continents. He is currently working on research into glacier lakes. From Peru, he’s moved on to Kyrgyzstan, one of the highest countries in the world. The average altitude is 2‚750 metres and 40% of the country is above 3‚000 metres. “The devices aren’t being monitored, and even though they’re located in remote and safe areas, they’re still stolen sometimes, even at altitudes of 4‚000 or 5‚000 metres above sea level in Peru. Or someone at least ‘borrows’ the solar panels.”
The climatic and hydrologic instruments are fitted with satellite antennas to send data to the computers in the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology. The research performed at this facility can be compared with top-notch European universities in Zurich, Berlin, or Tübingen. Glaciers the Key Subject Ten years ago, Jánský’s group started mapping about 2‚000 lakes in Kyrgyzstan and personally visited about 100 of the riskiest ones. Currently, the team is working at the 12 that most endanger people or property in the valleys below.
Inside the mine, gold is extracted chemically by cyanization, i.e. heap leaching or vat/tank leaching.
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The department currently plans NATO-funded projects together with the Technical University in Dresden and the University of Zurich. And that’s not all. Right now, a joint project run by associate professor Vilímek’s team and the University of Tübingen is in progress in Ethiopia as part of the department’s plans of continuing shared research projects. Professor Janský’s group focuses on unstable glacier lakes and the phenomenon called “mury” in the Alps, “seli” in Asia, and “huaycos” in Latin America: streams of stones, triggered by earthquakes, volcanic activity, driving rain, or melting snow. Professor Bohumír Janský is a leading Czech hydrologist and geographer, recent President of the Czech Geographical Society and head of Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Charles University in Prague. His research is focused on hydrological processes in montane regions of Peruvian Andes, Central Asia and headwaters of Czech rivers. Among his research highlights is the discovery of the Amazon River springs or research of glacial lakes in Kyrgyzstan.
Petrova Lake poses the greatest threat. The Kumtor gold mine, which is the third or fourth richest in the world according to recent information, lies below the lake’s dam. Gold mining needs cyanide, transported by long convoys of tank trucks through mountain passes at altitudes over 4‚000 metres. Inside the mine, gold is extracted chemically by cyanization, i.e. heap leaching or vat/tank leaching. The byproduct – a large amount of waste containing cyanides and heavy metals – is stored in a chemical storage facility just under the unstable dam of a lake that holds approximately 70 million cubic metres of water. “We’ve been warning since 2006 that the dam may break. The only thing we don’t know is when,” Professor Janský said. Glaciers are melting all over the planet and vast quantities of water fill lakes where dams are usually made of just unpaved rubble. “There’s a breach every year. Floods are bad enough, but streams of stones and mud are even worse. Given the inclination of the valley and the amount of water, they can move at up to 70 kilometres an hour,” Janský said.
Secrets and Buried Ice The Petrova lake used to be only 20 metres deep. Due to melting ice, the depth has now increased to 70 metres. During the survey, researchers found the surface expanded by up to nine hectares in the last several years, meaning the lake’s area grew by 900 × 100 m. And there’s more glacier ice in the dam and on the bottom of the lake (“buried ice”). As the dam melts away and decreases in size, new small lakes and seepages emerge. The mine is owned by a Canadian company. Ten years ago, the owners only allowed researchers access to the lake area while escorted by armed guards making sure they never saw the mining process and, most importantly, the waste management. Last year, the company (which bought the mine in privatisation under very favourable circumstances) changed its tune and became much more positive. The Czech researchers want to deepen the current drain by three metres to lower the surface level. “However, the earthworks can only be done in winter when the ground is frozen. We’re waiting impatiently for that. We have also planned a second drain, but work
hasn’t yet started there either,” Professor Janský said helplessly. Basic Research in a Politically Sensitive Region The researchers at the Faculty of Science also examine satellite images of the region and model the development of glaciers and future changes in run-off. Their basic research aims to predict how water sources will change once the glaciers melt and a completely new situation arises. However, the affected countries see this as a hot political problem – the water sources for the whole region are located in two of the poorest countries: Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. “In this region, water is an important geopolitical issue, and nobody knows how neighbours, primarily Uzbekistan, will respond to a new situation. This is quite similar to tension between Israel and neighbouring Arab states,” Janský said.
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Bloody Borders A fierce fight broke out in the fields instigated by Knight Adolf Norbert Miseroni of Lisson. The people called the blacksmith to their aid. But Miseroni, a man of a harsh and ruthless nature, fired at the smith and hit him with two bullets. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by René Volfík
Our collection is unique for its universal nature. The emphasis is put on old maps of Czech lands, but the diversity of documents enable us to act as a geographic and cartographic authority
At that moment, the serfs charged the Lord of the Krašov castle, and struck him with all they had. Miseroni ran away, but a hunter hit him with a crossbow‚ and he was taken to the wounded blacksmith. After three hours of immense pain, the brave blacksmith breathed his last. That’s probably how events happened in 1673. The land dispute, especially over hunting grounds and monastery pastures, went to court eventually. The local monastery ordered a map made of the disputed area in 1674 for the case. The thrilling history of the best-known baroque map of the monastery’s territory has a happy ending: The monastery won the trial and the essential piece of evidence – the map – is now one of 130‚000 map sheets stored in the collection of the Faculty of Science. You can see it at Albertov, but you can also view it in the university’s digital repository online. Borders often form a prominent feature of old maps, most often made for legal purposes. Owners disputed who held streams, ponds, or other features, which really hasn’t changed much to this day. “The only real difference is that nobody makes such beau-
tiful maps anymore,” said Eva Novotná, the director of the collection. Start at the Beginning In the case of a survey, or perhaps construction, it’s good to start any project with the oldest maps available. At least that’s what Director Novotná says. The author of a particular project can discover a lot of things that will make his/her work easier in the future.
Map Collection The map collection was established together with the geographic institute in 1891. In 1914, both the institute and the Map Collection moved to Albertov. The interior of the study room was built to resemble the French National Library and it has been recently restored using old photographs.
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Nobody makes such beautiful maps anymore
layers, which enables the comparison of the maps to locate changes in rivers, streams, or hills removed by mining.
Old maps are often the only source of long-forgotten facts and can prevent significant damage, such as the construction of residential houses in flood-threatened areas. For those and other reasons, the map collection has joined forces with nine other Czech institutions in order to connect the past with the present. This simple app enables experts and the general public to link historic maps to current systems of coordinates. Based on the similarity of five or more geo-reference points, the software can display maps in 2D and 3D in transparent
Czech Borders Set at Albertov The Map Collection at the Faculty of Science, Charles University, has existed for over a century, yet it wasn’t always accessible to the public. Academics helped pushed the creation of the National Map collection at Albertov after the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia, and it soon became one of the sites where the country’s borders were set. A unique atlas with 89 maps in various scales reflects how Czechoslovak borders were set at the Paris peace conference. Each meeting produced new territorial demands, and so the borders were drawn and redrawn. The maps include charts, tables, notes, and other auxiliary texts, usually in Czech and French.
Digitisation Helps Discover Wonders Novotná says that she still discovers new and valuable items in the collection. For example, Gijsbertson’s wall map of Europe is extraordinary and very well-known, but it was only recently confirmed by Professor Günter Schilder, an expert in Dutch maps from the 16th and 17th century, that it is one piece of a map of the world. Digital access to such unique items attracts specialists from around the world. Before World War One, the collection consisted of some 6‚000 maps, but it expanded vastly during the war due to international negotiations. The government supplied the collection with a third of the war archive obtained from Vienna that contained about 60‚000 maps. Today, the Map Collection contains 130‚000 single-sheet maps, 2‚000 atlases, 84 globes, Tellurian maps, and armillary spheres. “Our collection is unique for its universal nature. The emphasis is put on old maps of Czech lands, but the diversity of documents enable us to act as a geographic and cartographic authority,” Novotná said.
PhDr. et Mgr. Eva Novotná, director of the Map Collection of the Faculty of Science, Charles University, and head of the Geographic Library of the Faculty of Science.
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The times they are a changin’… Martin Kovář is Vice-Rector of Charles University for Public Affairs and Professor of General History, author of the book “The City and the Games: The Story of the Olympics in London”. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Vladimír Šigut
I deeply believe sports are an integral part of a university education. To some extent, it may come down to the fact that I specialise in British history, and you simply can’t imagine British universities without sports. It’s a tradition that goes deep into the past. And it’s not only Britain itself – the whole British Commonwealth shares this tradition, as does the United States. But this isn’t the only reason for my firm belief that sports and a university education go together well. Even the ancient Greeks knew full well that the development of human intellect should go hand-in-hand with physical activities. And it doesn’t end there: Sports, especially team sports (as they have traditionally been part of a university education), have always helped develop an important team spirit, a feeling of solidarity with others, and encouragement to identify with the school. Before universities, sports were largely promoted at public schools in England, meaning private boarding schools for the boys from wealthy families. With the
Sports, especially team sports (as they have traditionally been part of a university education), have always helped develop an important team spirit, a feeling of solidarity with others and to encouragement identify with the school.
Professor Martin Kovář is the director of the Institute of World History at Faculty of Arts; he specializes in political, economic, social and cultural history of Great Britain (16th−20th century), history of Europe in the 20th century and the history of transatlantic relations.
growth in popularity of various sports and their support in public schools, and then later at the universities in Oxford and Cambridge, the number of clubs and associations grew. That is why the 1860s in England gave birth to, for example: the Football Association, the Amateur Athletic Club, the Bicycle Union, the British National Olympic Society and, a bit later, the Amateur Athletic Association, the first national athletic association ever. At roughly the same time, the first official competitions were organized: the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the golf championship, cricket matches, etc. And other sports soon followed: tennis, croquet, gymnastics, and mountaineering, all in close cooperation with universities. In an interview with my former teacher and now colleague, Robert Kvaček, we agreed that neither of us would ever have acknowledged sports as an extraordinary phenomenon of the 20th century if it were not for our personal experiences, and if we didn’t know the function of sports as a strong social influence. It was personal experience that brought the two of us to study sports. So there is one possible reason why historians in general do not focus on sports: They know too little about it and lack any personal experience. But it seems that times are changing… It would be great if there were more sports around us because sports and the university are a natural combination.
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The Right Sport/Study Balance Text by Anna Plasová photo by René Volfík
“We made it” “You can’t do two things full-time. Everybody has to set his or her priorities – choose the thing you want to be really outstanding at and give it all it takes,” Miroslava Knapková, London Olympic sculling champion, said firmly when asked about the combination of her studies and top-level sport.¯ “I decided to commit myself to rowing at the top level because I realised I had the talent. It wasn’t an overnight decision – it took me two or three years. There’s no guarantee of success in sports. You never know in advance that you’re going to have good results and win a medal. School is different. If you work regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed.” “But seriously, it wasn’t easy at all. Sometimes it was almost impossible to combine my professional life, family, and studies. For example, I had to prepare a speech for my graduation ceremony. The ceremony was on Monday, and on Sunday, I was still racing in Lucerne. I can still remember the first sentence of the speech: We made it, we’ve just received our diploma to certify we have completed our university studies.”
Mirka said she sees training and racing as the best form of self validation. “The combination of physical and psychological exhaustion will change you so much that you respond differently to various situations and you can easily surprise yourself,” she said, admitting that she can be rather unpleasant to others in such occasions. “Everyone should work on his or her relaxation techniques to avoid that state of mind. You have to realise that you’re simply tired, and that’s the reason for everything. Keep in mind that the people close to you shouldn’t fall victim to your moods,” Mirka said self-critically. When asked if she lets out her anger in the boat, she says: “I don’t swear on the boat, just in my car. Even if I swore while rowing, my coach wouldn’t hear me, with the engine roaring in his own boat. But yes, the lack of consideration from some people really upsets me.”
Miroslava Knapková is an Olympic sculling champion, winning gold at the London 2012 games; 2011 World Champion; World Cup winner in 2002 and 2009; European Champion in 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2014; Academic World Champion 2002 and multiple champion in the Czech Republic.
The combination of physical and psychological exhaustion will change you so much that you respond differently to various situations and you can easily surprise yourself.
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Simona Baumrtová TEXT bY Robert Záruba photo by René Volfík
There’s something unusual about this girl; a cool, smart, and naturally good-looking young lady in the monotonous grind that is swimming, especially the backstroke. This sport is said to form both body and personality, but in the case of Simona, it hasn’t stripped her of her good nature. You can’t but admire her among all the water robots. She sets an example for others: You have to sacrifice a lot to the sports world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have severe all ties to normal life.
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tomáš šebek the Doctor Without Borders
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During the night of October 3, the US military launched repeated air strikes on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. At least 42 people died in the attack; 24 patients, 14 hospital workers, and 4 people providing care. Some of them were friends of Tomáš Šebek, who spent five months on a mission at the hospital. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Jiří Hroník, archive of Tomáš Šebek
Doctors Without Borders is a neutral organisation that provides care in high-risk areas to anyone who needs it. Afghanistan is one of those hotspots. According to international humanitarian law, a wounded unarmed individual is not a combatant and no-one has the right to inhibit or harm a medic providing aid. “We don’t look at who was a member of the opposition, which means the Taliban, among our patients, and who was a regular citizen, although sometimes you could tell by the behaviour of the local staff. It sometimes happened that you’d have fighters from opposing sides lying sideby-side in the hospital. They would play chess together.” In some situations, two bitter enemies can come together, Tomáš Šebek said about the hospital, adding “aggression doesn’t belong in a hospital. Personally, I’m very saddened by the attack, and as a representative of Doctors Without Borders, I’m working to make sure this event isn’t forgotten and becomes a precedent that will help increase protection for medics.” Cultural and Professional Differences In 1970, there was a hockey rink in Kunduz, and girls would walk down the street with their hair down, without a headscarf. Conditions are very different today. ”I knew I didn’t need to bring shorts on this mission. On the base, among foreigners, I ran a half marathon in my underwear, but it would be impossible to go outside dressed like that,” Šebek said. “The differences surfaced in professional life as well. Muslims use only their right hand, because the left is unclean. In Afghanistan, the local doctor would operate using his right hand. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it because I imagined what he could do if he used both hands. He’d be a world-class surgeon.”
Surgery is about teamwork; it’s not something you can do on your own. On missions, it’s not uncommon for the power to go out or for there to be no running water in hospitals. The care the doctors provide, however, is on par with our standards of industrialised care. It’s just a matter of the doctor becoming multivalent, as was common in the 1950s. “Medicine is a service like any other and the patient’s gratitude is a clear message to the doctor that he did good work. In Haiti, they would scratch my head. It was normal for them to constantly touch the doctor. In Afghanistan, it was common for people to share what little they had. Most often they offered their own food that they would bring to the hospital in thanks. It’s great when someone tells you ‘Thank you for helping me.’ I don’t have a messianic complex. I help because I love surgery. It’s just one aspect of my interest in medicine,” Dr. Šebek said. Improvisation Necessary In the Czech Republic, a surgeon enters the room to find a highly organised team, a scalpel is put in his or her hand, and the operation begins. “In Afghanistan, it has a magical dimension that shows you how things work in the hospital,” Šebek said. “Before I get to the room, I have to make sure the patient gets there, that it’s the right patient, that the patient confirmed ap proval for the surgery, that the right people are in the room, and that the instruments are there. I can run around like crazy for 15 minutes before an operation.” Czech healthcare, just like the British National Health Service, has a very high set of standards. As doctors, Czechs add a level of improvisation or individuality, which provides Czech healthcare, and in the end the patient, greater comfort and better healthcare than →
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the rather rigid NHS. Dr. Šebek stresses the importance of positive examples. ”Charles University gave me fantastic theoretical knowledge. But no institution can teach you to improvise. You need to meet people who will teach you how to deal with certain situations. I left my alma mater 14 years ago, but I still remember my teachers and the nuggets of knowledge they gave us if a person paid close attention.” Šebek has several examples of how Czech improvisation helped the mission. For example, “In Afghanistan, anaesthetist Pavel Roleček used a bucket with water and a tube to assure pressurised ventilation of a patient. It worked great and everyone was amazed that all he used were the basic laws of physics.” Doctors Without Borders had excellent results in Kunduz. Only 1% of patients died during operations, which is extremely low considering how many seriously injured patients were admitted. “Most often there was a hole in the patient; somewhere the bullet entered and exited. That’s better than when it stays inside, causing more problems. If the patient dies, then it’s a loss and a failed fight. You know nature is nature and you can’t fool its laws no matter how hard you try. It’s sad, but thankfully your next patient is right there and things will be better.” During large tragedies, there’s a triage system in place. In Kunduz this meant eight or more seriously injured people at once. “Everyone was calm. I can image what it looks like in Czech conditions when they bring in three or four people from a car crash.
There’s always confusion. Afghans take it as part of daily life and you can easily sort and treat the patients.” Šebek said the worst thing about the Afghan war is that it’s endless and people have lost hope. “Someone comes in and tries to install order. There’s always someone there, making life hard for people and they have little to look forward to. I really respect those who after 40 years of war are still able to speak about patriotism and say ‘I will stay here and try to make the country into what it once was.’ I’m also filled with concerns for those who leave, and respect both. We’re so lucky to have been born in the Czech lands, where nothing happens, where things are calm, and which is one of the safest countries in the world. They were born somewhere else. Mrs. Anybody could also have been born in Kunduz and not in Prague. How is that their fault?”
I don’t have a messianic complex. I help because I love surgery. It’s just one aspect of my interest in medicine.
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Dr. Tomáš Šebek finished his fourth Doctors Without Borders mission in March 2015. Following two trips to Haiti, he returned to the trauma centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The hospital provides care to people injured in the fighting. He published his memories about life and work in Kunduz in the book Mission Afghanistan: A Czech Surgeon in Dragon Runner Country.
Doctors Without Borders had excellent results in Kunduz. Only 1% of patients died during operations, which is extremely low considering how many seriously injured patients are admitted.
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We have to protect room for reason between the extremes For some people, Professor Tomáš Halík is a typical modern scholar; for others, a modern theologist. His personal views and opinions are sometimes mistaken for views of academia or the Catholic Church, yet he insists that he always speaks for himself only. Dialogue, discussion, and critical thinking are extremely important for him as a way to steer clear of the contemporary inclination towards extremism and fundamentalism. text by Petra Köpplová PHOTO by Jiří Hroník, ČTK
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In the case of reasonable self-defence, and especially when defending the innocent and defenceless, the use of force is not a breach of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, or, more accurately, “You shall not murder”.
The martyrdom of Islamists is something completely new for us. Where do you see its sources, and what is the Catholic approach to this kind of martyrdom? The cult of martyrs is featured in one branch of Islam, and it is rooted in its early history. However, anyone who dies as a suicide and murderer at the same time, and thus kills innocent people, claims the martyr title wrongfully. Such a suicide, and especially the killing of the innocent, is a deadly sin not only in the Catholic religion – it’s also strictly condemned in Islamic ethic and religious law. This takes us to the question of forgiveness, or understanding, which faces the risk of further similar attacks. Is there any possibility of breaching the Fifth Commandment in this context? In the case of reasonable self-defence, and especially when defending the innocent and defenceless, the use of force is not a breach of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, or, more accurately, “You shall not murder”. So how do we respond to someone who clearly doesn’t care for the basic values of Western civilisation? If these values are important, then society is obliged to defend them – and, thus, defend itself. Both by a clear voice in the debate, and by legal measures.
with moral authority that should raise these topics in the public discussion. So much for reaching an agreement on certain limits of cartoons. But what about the free research on Islam? What if the next attack focuses on, for example, physics, on the grounds that it collides with an interpretation of the Quran? The ascent of scientific and technological civilisation, and the “cultural revolution” of the Enlightenment, once caused a stir in the traditional Christian world and forced Christianity to seek a new and deeper interpretation of its faith and to reform itself. There was no such religious stir in many Islamic countries, so modern scientific and technological civilisation fully coexists with the features of Islam that could be called fundamentalist. Often we see forced, even absurd, attempts at harmonising the result of scientific research with the text of the Quran. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to expect attacks on physics. That being said, the attempts at reading and interpreting sacred scriptures in a historical context, using philosophical hermeneutics and the methodology of literary criticism – i.e., the methods long rooted in modern and postmodern Christian theology – are something entirely extraordinary in Islam, and have the air of heresy.
The public discussion that occurred after the Charlie Hebdo attacks has indicated that we will have to make a new, or at least more accurate, definition of the freedom of speech. What are the reasonable, or possible, limits? And who should say what they are? Where is the limit, and how to recognize it? That’s exactly why we have our culture – the reason, the conscience, the education, the taste, and the sense of values. A barbarian, unlike a cultural human being, doesn’t recognize that limit. And who decides where it is? If possible, the author himself or herself – his or her reason, conscience, education, taste, and sense of values. And if there is no cultural climate, then we need legal protection of human dignity. That is where the laws preventing the defamation of race, nation and belief come in, laws valid in every country with the rule of law, including ours. Yet not everything allowed by the law is also right – in addition to the law, the society protects this moral sense. This sense is developed by the education of culture and tolerance, free discussion, or the voice of reason and conscience. And it is the people
It seems we have experienced an unprecedented wave of fanaticism in recent years. Can it change the world as we know it? Can it be compared to the ascent of Anarchism in the late 19th century? An honest and thorough answer would fill a thick book. There are many reasons and causes of the wave of fanaticism – they may be rooted in psychology (pathological personality features) or social psychology (social, cultural and spiritual uprooting, resulting in frustration, the feeling of non-acceptance and threat, aggression as compensation of fear). In Demons, Dostoyevsky created a brilliant description of both human and group features that gave birth to Anarchism, Nazism and Communism. These uprooted people are always offered an ideology of hate, whether based on race, class, or, now, civilisation and religion. However, the target of this hate always remains the same – the bourgeois West deeply rooted in Christianity, Judaism and the rationalism of the Enlightenment era. There are analogies between these hateful ideologies, but there is also the major role of cultural and historic context.
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On 8 March 2016, the Oxford University officially approved that ten candidates shall receive the highest academic award: honorary doctorate. One of the recipients is going to be the Czech theologian and philosopher Tomáš Halík. In 2014, one of the university lecture halls was named after him and the room was decorated with his portrait. Since 1989, Tomáš Halík has lectured at universities in many European countries, in USA, Canada, Australia, Asia, and Africa. He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Romano Guardini Award, the Cardinal König Award, and also the Templeton Prize (2014). Tomáš Halík focuses on the role of religion in contemporary world, interreligious dialogue, and the dialogue between the believers and non-believers. He is Professor of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University.
Dialogue as a tool of prevention Let’s get back to the beginning. Is it really possible to start this dialogue today? And with whom? We know the words of Hans Kung: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.” And this is confirmed by our experience. The easiest path is a dialogue between educated people, and also between the young. On the other hand, where a deeply rooted hatred and prejudice have already frozen people’s minds, where there are calls for violence or violence has already broken out, dialogue is very difficult if not impossible. Dialogue is a tool that prevents violence, and heals its effects. Dialogue is a way towards conciliation and sustainable coexistence. This being said, how do you see the Pegida movement in Germany? The Pegida movement, like its Czech counterpart Islám v ČR nechceme (No Islam in the Czech Republic), offers simple, mostly unreal or downright pathological answers to complex and real problems. I was not surprised at all that the founder of this movement turned
out to be a Nazi, convicted for violent crimes in the past. And it is very symptomatic that in all of Europe, the biggest fear of Muslims is seen in the lands with hardly any Muslims at all – the Czech Republic and the former German Democratic Republic. The mentality of the “No Islam in the Czech Republic” fans is very similar to that of the fanatics in Islamic countries who burn flags of Western states and yet know very little about the West, just like our anti-Muslim fighters know very little about Islam. Extremes are mutually attractive, and there is so much frustration, fear, prejudice and hate in the world that people need to vent these feelings. Here, it usually ends with verbal aggression; in other countries, physical attacks are unfortunately common. Do you have any personal solutions to the problem? Search, find, and protect room for reason, decency and mutual respect between the extremes. And be brave enough to go against the flow sometimes. It is not easy but I believe it is a part of the moral duty of members of academics.
A Wardrobe Full of Memories Text by Ed. photo by UK, Jiří Hroník
Over 38 years, beadle Alois Souček has seen six rectors of Charles University and more than 200‚000 students eager to graduate. Most of them don’t know his name, but when they see his face again, they remember their big day, when Alois Souček offered them the scepter to swear their spondeo ac polliceor. Alois Souček, you see, is the unmistakable ceremonial academic mace carrier. His place is in the rector’s cloakroom, which is where students most often see him when preparing for graduation. But in his time, he’s experienced more than just students and their instructors. In 1991, he met Great Britain’s Prince Charles, which was followed in 1999 by US President George Bush. In 2007, Vaclav Havel visited the university. And this year, he was awarded a silver commemorative Charles University medal on his birthday in gratitude for his exceptional work for the university over the years. “My work gives me great joy. It’s wonderful to get to meet the students in the auditorium and offer them the mace they swear upon. It’s like being reborn,” Alois Souček said of his role as beadle at the university.
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Address Ovocný trh 3–5 116 36, Prague 1 – Old Town Czech Republic GPS N 50.0865686 E 14.4223959
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Prague’s Debt to Charles IV by Jan Royt paperback, 200 pp. ISBN 9788024631165
Prague’s Debt to Charles IV In 1355, Charles IV was coronated Holy Roman Emperor and chose Prague, the capital of the Bohemian Kingdom, as his capital. The ensuing years will be the city’s golden age, forever transforming its character and layout. Charles IV, a Luxembourg, was well-versed in Western culture and possessed a cosmopolitan openness before he became King of Bohemia. This would come to be reflected in his capital city, as would the tradition of the local kings. Charles began an unprecedented building campaign, founding some of Prague’s most well-known sights, including the Charles Bridge, Charles University, an entire new quarter now known as the New Town, and a series of churches laid out in the shape of the cross. This High Gothic period forms the backbone of Prague’s remarkable mix of architectural styles. Jan Royt, former head of Institute of Christian Art History of Charles University, describes the relationship between Charles IV and Prague in his book The Prague of Charles IV 1316–1378 published by Karolinum Press. This book goes into detail about mediaeval life during the period, how the city changed, and places the rapid development of Prague into the context of the larger Bohemian Kingdom. Jan Royt is also the author of The Master of the Trebon Altarpiece and Mediaeval Painting in Bohemia, both published by Karolinum Press. Text by Ed. PHOTO by Karolinum Press
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A Summit of Kings and Emperors The year 1378 saw Bohemian King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV travel to Paris to meet French King Charles V. This journey touches on a broad swath of life, from dynastic politics, to the difficulties of travel, to logistics, and even culinary habits. Text by Ed. PHOTO by Karolinum Press
The Parisian Summit, 1377–78 by František Šmahel Karolinum Press, CZK 1080, pp. 480 ISBN 9788024625225 Karolinum e-shop, CZK 918
Reconstructing the journey to this meeting with deft narrative talent, František Šmahel traces the king’s progress from Prague to Paris, piecing together a modern chronicle from contemporary French scholarship and mediaeval literature in his book The Parisian Summit, 1377–78. The result is an appealing account of mediaeval life, everyday intellectualism, grand European politics of the time, and even mediaeval cuisine. Šmahel sets the stage by presenting details of the life of Charles IV, including his early days in Paris and the political and international goals of his father, John of Luxembourg. The author then presents a transcription of the richly illustrated French chronicles that document the historic meeting and offer an analysis of the importance of the conclave of the two most powerful European rulers of the time. Šmahel also considers, in individual studies, the practical organisation of mediaeval festivities, including their logistics, transportation, culinary details, court manners, relationships, and symbols. With techniques borrowed from the fields of archaeology and microhistory as well as cultural anthropology and iconography, The Parisian Summit, 1377–78 is a highly readable account of mediaeval lives and times that will appeal to historians as well as nonacademic audiences.
Carolinum / Gothic Cloister / 14 / 5—31 / 8 / 2016
The Second Life of Charles IV Ovocný trh 3 / Prague 1 Open daily except Mondays 10 a.m.—6 p.m. Admission free www.charles700.cuni.cz
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