The CENIEH collaborates on a study of the lithic industry in the Czech Republic

This is a paper on the stone tools found at the archaeological site of Mohelno-Plevovce, whose objective is to understand the activities which took place in this European region during the Upper Paleolithic, and whose co-authors include Joseba Rios, a specialist in use-wear analysis

In a paper published recently in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol, led by Joseba Rios Garaizar, an archaeologist at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), the stone tools recovered in two structures for occupation situated at the site of Mohelno-Plevovce, in southern Moravia (Czech Republic) were analyzed, in an endeavor to comprehend the activities carried out in this region of Europe during the Upper Paleolithic.

Around 23,000 years ago, groups of humans entered this territory uninhabited due to the last Glaciation and, by the course of the River Jihlava, took advantage of a protected area to raise two structures for occupation with paved floors. The results indicate that the two structures were probably not occupied at the same time.

At one of them, the new arrivals left behind tools made from raw materials carried from their places of origin. These utensils were used to make and repair tools made from antlers, probably from reindeer. Small pointed and sharpened flakes have also been found, which would have become lethal hunting weapons when inserted into handles.

As the tools from imported rocks started running out, the groups settled in the area substituted them for local materials of lower quality

In the other structure, fewer tools made from these imported rocks have been conserved, many of which were abandoned after prolonged, intensive use for different activities, such as work with skins. Curiously, it is seen at this second structure that, as the tools made from imported rocks started to run out, these pioneer groups had to use local materials of lower quality such as rock crystal.

“This suggests that these groups occupied these territories for a certain time, perhaps only a few weeks, and also indicates that this area was unknown to them, because otherwise they would surely have exploited the major outcrops of flint there are less than 30 km from the site, next to the modern city of Brno”, explains Rios, a specialist in use-wear analysis.

Last Glaciation

During the harshest periods of the last glaciation in Europe, great swathes of land to the north of the continent which had been occupied were abandoned suddenly, with almost all human presence vanishing from the areas adjacent to the great ice sheets which covered the North Sea and the Baltic.

In the Czech region of Moravia, abandonment of the Gravettian settlements took place about 27,000 years ago, including sites as famous as the Dolni Vestonice, and until the occupation of Mohelno-Plevovce, this territory remained uninhabited.

Excavation at the Mohelno-Plevovce site continues under a team led by Petr Škrdla of the Czech Academy of Sciences, as part of a larger project coordinated by Yuri E. Demidenko of the Institute of Archaeology (NASU) in Ukraine, whose objective is to characterize and understand the archaeological cultures and population dynamics in central and eastern Europe during the most recent glaciation.