Beneath a covering of chalky loess, swept here later by Ice Age winds, are preserved the ground plans of settlements, hearths, the remnants of workshops, evidence for the manufacture of tools and other Palaeolithic household items, as well as bone waste from hunted and consumed animals (middens of mammoth bones and the remains of other animals). Among the most valuable finds are skeletons of the people themselves, the evidence of new technologies - which according to current knowledge were used for the first time in history at this very site, and finally the artistic artefacts, demonstrating the aesthetic sensitivity of the people.
Our popular literature likes to speak of “mammoth hunters”, European archaeological literature about the Gravettian culture of the Upper Palaeolithic (named after the La Gravette rock overhang) and, in Moravia more specifically, of the Pavlovian culture (named after the village of Pavlov). This period has its origins at a time more than 30,000 years BP and comes to an end approximately 22,000 years BP.
From the ethnographic viewpoint, this society was made up of so-called “complex hunter gatherers”, defining characteristics for whom are stable settlements and societies with their own internal hierarchies. And it is the Moravian Gravettian culture which most closely resembles the first and oldest known societies of this type.
From the archaeological perspective, the finds from the modern villages of Pavlov, Dolní Věstonice and Milovice corroborate the existence of a successful Palaeolithic society. The complexity of finds gives some idea as to the broad range of behaviour, and they enable us to investigate not only activities, technology and relationships to the natural environment, but also the implied social, symbolic and ritual structures that lay behind such activities.
The long-term excavation and research of the hunting settlements below the Pálava show that, during the Gravettian period, Moravia lit up the world of its day as a civilizational and cultural centre. This strategically critical territory, connecting the east and the west of the continent, gained primacy across a whole series of technologies, such as pottery, weaving textiles or grinding stones. Also documented has been the grinding of vegetation for food. These advances have until now been considered essential for the crossover to agrarian societies that occurred 10,000 years later.
As a comprehensive system, the Moravian Gravettian represents one of the most successful adaptation models in pre-agrarian human history. The territory of Moravia has another outstanding claim – by coincidence, our Gravettian sites have provided anthropologists with the largest and demonstrably oldest available collection of modern human bone remnants in the world.