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2020-08-28 12:09:39   •   ID: 2192

The Moravian Gate during the Late Gravettian

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Since the 19th century early researchers of the Moravian Paleolithic (Kříž, Wankel, Maška and Absolon) recognized the importance of the Moravian Gate as one of the most important Central European passages, both for animals and their hunters, during the Pleistocene (Figure 1; source probably Absolon).

Because of its low altitude, the gate works as a corridor between the Sudetes in the northwest and the Beskides / Carpathians in the southeast, by providing the easiest passage from the Middle Danube valley towards the course of the Vistula / Weichsel into the Krakow region and further to the North and East European Plain.

In Central Europe, the many Gravettian sites are arranged like pearls on a string beginning with the Middle Danube / Wachau Sites (Willendorf, Spitz, Weißenkirchen, Aggsbach, Krems, Langenlois) followed towards the North-East by clusters of the Moravia / Mach River (Grub Kranawettberg, Stillfried) and the Dyje / Theia river with the famous sites in the Pavlovian Hills (Pavlov, Dolni Vestonice, Milovice).

Smaller Gravette sites are present in the Middle Morava Basin followed by the Predmost sites at the southern end of the Moravian Gate and Ostrava-Petrkovice at the northern end.

After passing the Moravian gate, the important Kraków Late Gravettian sites, including Krakow Spazista streeet can be easily reached following the course of the Vistula / Weichsel river.

The backed shouldered point, shown in this post, gives a good impression of one characteristic Moravian Late Gravettian artefact and has similarities to a shouldered point from Ostrava-Petrkovice.

Earlier Posts about the Central European Gravettian are found here: 2189 , here: 1640 , here: 1296 , here: 1374 , and here: 1014

The Upper Gravettian site Ostrava-Petrkovice, at the strategic favorable northern entrance of the Moravian Gate was first excavated by Folprecht and Absolon in 1926-1929, followed by B. Klima in 1952-1953, and is currently again under excavation by J Svoboda.

In the central area of the site, which was covered by powdered hematite, the researchers detected several hearths, and several small pits.

Interestingly the fuel for the fires encompassed bones but maybe also charcoal, with is present on surface in the immediate neighborhood of the site.

The Lithics of Ostrava-Petrkovice include a lot of domestic tools - Burins are more frequent than Endscrapers, backed bladelets, sometimes with Late Gravettian characteristing truncations, Pointed Blades, several Leaf Points (most fragmentary) and Shouldered Points.

Some ceramic pieces were also present. Organic materials were unfortunately poorly preserved.

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An unique Figurine, the “Ostrava Venus” was found during Klima’s excavations.

This miniature female torso – only 5 cm in height – was carved from “a piece of black hematite iron ore” (Marshack 1972; Figure 5 with Permission of the Kirchoff Collection; UMG).

It was early mentioned, that the figurine looks like a modern Cubistic work of art, but its special appearance is certainly due to the uncommon raw material.

Initially and maybe echoing Absolon's "Mousterioliths" this site has been considered rather early in the Gravettian due to some archaic tools.

Later it became clear, that the site belongs to the late Gravettian - technologically by the shouldered points and chronologically by C-14 with an average date of ca 22 k.a. ( ca 25 k.a. Cal BP).

The site was situated at Landek Hill at the confluence of the rivers Ostravice and Odra. The Hill is only 280 meters high but the highest elevation in the area and was certainly an optimal Lookout point for hunters.

Today you should not miss to visit the Landek Park Mining Museum.

Coal mining at Landek is documented as early as 1789, and continued until 1991. After its completion, the area was preserved and transformed into the Mining Museum.

Some questions about the Gravettian site remain: Up-to-day geomorphological evaluation, precise C-14 dating and exploring whether black coal was realy used to make fire by the earliest inhabitants.

Suggested Readings:

Svoboda J., (Ed.) Petřkovice: on shouldered points and female figurines, The Dolní Věstonice Studies Vol 15, Institute of Archaeology at Brno, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Brno 2008.