A unique archaeological site of global significance
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 more than 30,000 years BP and comes to and 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 Moravian Gravettian culture which most closely resembles the first and oldest known societies of this type.
Archaeologically speaking, 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 somewhere lay behind such activities.
The long-term excavation and research of the hunting sites 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. All these features have until now been considered foundations 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 bone remnants of modern humans in the world.