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Milovice


The complex of Gravettian stations near Milovice lies in a side valley without a view of the Dyje (Thaya) River, aside from the main settlement area, below Pálava. During the loess mining on the dam of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs, M. Oliva from the Anthropos MZM Institute carried out the rescue research. The site is notable for the huge amount of accumulated bones of mammoths for which the valley provided extremely suitable conditions for hunting.

These large accumulations cannot be explained as mere kitchen waste or a raw material store. There are too many large and heavy bones that have not been used (lower jaws, skulls, pelvis, shoulder blades), and a number of isolated molars and tusks. These mysterious depositions resemble rather the collection of bones of prestigious game for representative and transcendental reasons.

From other ethnological sources we know hunters burned bones or hung them on trees, put them in swamps, etc. for the sake of reconciliation of some protective spirit - the so-called. "Lord of the Beasts". Prehistoric game animals were partners, not just prey.

For the mammoth hunters, everyday life is interwoven with festivities and rituals, the most important of which could be the deposit of the widest selection of bones from the catch.
Text above: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic

location pavlovian sites
Moravian Pavlovian sites.

Southern Moravia (Pavlov Hills area): 1. Milovice I; 2. Pavlov I; 3. Pavlov II; 4. Dolní Věstonice I.

Eastern Moravia: 5. Napajedla I; 6. Boršice I.

Middle Moravia: 7. Předmostí; 8. Mladec II; 9. Blatec.

Northern Moravia (Silesia): 10. Petřkovice I; 11. Petřkovice II.

Photo: Oliva (1999)


Location of Milovice.


Location of Milovice.

Photo: Google Maps


szeleta cave plan location
Location of the Pavlovian sites in the local area, showing relative elevations.

Milovice I (Mikulovsko)
Complex of settlement and mammoth bone deposits in the valley south of the settlement along the road to Mikulov. Below the Gravettian lies a discrete layer of Aurignacian. Elevation: 230–240 m. Research: Bohuslav Klíma, 1986–1991 Martin Oliva.

Milovice II (Waldfleck, Marktsteig)
Surface finds of stone tools on the little ridge north of site I. Elevation: 220 m. Ongoing surface research.


Milovice III (Brněnský, Strážný Hill)
Isolated finds. Elevation 220–265 m. Ongoing surface research.

Milovice IV (inside the settlement)
Evidently a large Gravettian settlement beneath the present-day village. Elevation: 180 m. Research: 2009 Jiří Svoboda

Photo and text: Svoboda (2010)




Milovice I
Milovice I

The first indication of the site of Milovice I was when mammoth bones were discovered during the construction of the road to Mikulov in 1949.

Photo B. Klíma
Source and text: Oliva (2009)




Milovice I
Milovice I

( It was decided to reroute the road, to allow for a scientific investigation - Don )

This map shows the excavated areas.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)




Milovice I Milovice I


(left) Milovice I, Mammoth bone bed in the area A.
(right) Milovice I, Mammoth bones in the lower part of section B.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)


Milovice IMilovice I


(left) Milovice I, Mammoth bones in the upper part of section B.
(right) Milovice I, The preparation of tusks in the sector B.
Source and text: Oliva (2009)


Milovice IMilovice I


(left) Milovice I, Tusks and the other mammoth bones in the central part of the sector K.
(right) Milovice I, Mammoth tusks and the bones in the northern part of the sector K.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)


Milovice I Milovice I


(left) Milovice I, Eastern part of the mammoth bone bed in the sector K.
(right) Milovice I, Southern part of the sector L, at the rear on the right is the dated hearth with the leaf point.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)


Milovice I Milovice I


(left) Milovice I, Mammoth tusks in the eastern part of sector R.
(right) Milovice I, (right to left) Olga Soffer, a frequent visitor, and Alexander Marshack, with the author, Martin Oliva, examining the Milovice excavations. Jean Auel, the author of well-known novels on the Ice Ages, also visited the site.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)


Milovice I
Gravettian sites around the Pavlov Hills, Southern Moravia.

DV Dolní Věstonice, K Klentnice (uncertain), M Milovice, P Pavlov.

Source and text: Oliva (2009)




photo 1
Milovice I, SW part of the mammoth bone heap in Sector B.

Overall view of some of the areas under investigation. The first living area was in the southern G sector, (left top), the younger phase of the settlements include a large accumulation of mammoth bones (A-B in front, K further up the slope) and fragmentary settlements above them again.

Text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic
Photo: L. Píchová.
Source and additional text: Oliva (2009)




mammoth hut g
Milovice l, Sector G, foundations of the mammoth-bone hut.

Photo and text: Oliva (1999)




photo 3
Lithic industry from Milovice I, section G, as in the photo above.

Photo: T. Buganska Source: Oliva (1999)


mammoth hut g
Milovice I, Sector G, circular structure of mammoth bones with fireplaces, probably a hut.

Hatched – red burnt zones, dotted – charcoal.

Photo and text: Oliva (1999)




photo 2
( this photo shows the Commission on Archaeological Research in Milovice (Břeclav district) at the Milovice I site, examining the excavation of the mammoth bone hut, Section G on August 18 1987. - Don )

In Milovice I this circular structure was outlined with mammoth bones. The entrance was to the north, towards the Dyje (Thaya) River.

On the east side was a pile of tusks, lower jaws and shoulder blades, while there were several mammoth skulls on the west side. Inside this structure was found a small fireplace with burnt clay and several mammoth skulls as well as a smaller fireplace with burnt clay and a few ash deposits. The fireplace near the north entrance consisted mainly of burnt bones.

Photo L. Píchová
Photo Source and additional text: Oliva (2009)
Text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




photo 3


Large reindeer antler, with one end shaped for digging, the other end shaped as a handle.

Oliva (2009) identifies this is an 'adze' from Milovice I, Sector G, of length 54 cm, 1988.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




photo 3


Milovice I

A mammoth skull, tusks, ribs, and large hooves were found on the earth floor of the hut.

( note that the digging tool or adze is shown in this photograph, above and to the right of the dark mammoth tusk - Don )

Source: Oliva (1999)
Text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic


mammoth hut g
Plan of the structure above.

Photo and text: Oliva (1999)




At Předmostí there were many adult male mammoths, while at the Milovice site these large animals are absent. Younger males are driven out of mixed herds or leave on their own in the period immediately after sexual maturity is reached (twelve years old or older). They live alone or in small temporary bachelor groups. They must learn alone how to find food and water or they attach to older bulls from whom they learn by example in survival strategy. They approach the family groups only when they are in season, in a state called 'musth', and seek females for mating.

mammoth


Painting depicting men fleeing from a single large and older male mammoth.

While a fanciful depiction, this turns out to be not far from the truth, since male mammoths in 'musth', were particularly aggressive.

Painting: La Fuite devant le Mammouth, oil on canvas by Paul Jamin, 1885
Collections of the Société Préhistorique française, from the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source: Musée de l'Homme, Paris





Thus, the absence of large mammoths (adult males) in fossil assemblage suggests that the bone assemblage from Milovice represented the mass human kill of a single herd. It is easier and faster to organise hunting of a single herd of calves and females than to successively kill males living and moving alone or in small bands. Although they are a substantial source of meat and ivory, the hunting of sexually mature males appears to be less effective than the hunting of a cow-calf group. The mature males lived apart from females most of the time and they approached the family groups only in 'musth' when they are very dangerous and aggressive. Hunting of the whole herd is more advantageous as the whole herd is hunted at once. The number of individuals at the site Milovice is not as large as in the case of Předmost, and this number corresponds to modern elephant groups. A mammoth herd may contain fifty or more animals.

It has been suggested that marshy terrain was used for mammoth trapping. This method has disadvantages for successive seasons of mammoth hunting, since the mammoths become wary in the presence of carcases of mammoths killed in earlier hunts at the same place. Thus we can conclude that, based on the fossil assemblage, the mammoths at Milovice I were killed in one single hunting event.

photo 3
The small dimensions of these tools are unusual. Most are miniature points with one side blunted, which are more part of the Mediterranean Gravettian style.

The allocation of this settlement to the Pavlovian culture is therefore unlikely, but the station has an absolute 14C date of 26 to 25 thousand years ago, and is no different in most physical respects as well as age to the nearby classical locations of Dolní Věstonice and Pavlov.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




photo 3 photo 3 photo 3
These larger Pavlov points suggest contact with the Pavlov settlement nearby.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




Pavlov aerial
Aerial photo of the general area.

Location of the sites Dolní Věstonice I, Pavlov I and II on the north-eastern slopes of the Pavlov Hills (550 m a.s.l.).

Photo and text: Svoboda et al. (2016)




photo 4


photo 4


As one of the Gravettian sites in this area, the Carpathian radiolarite (often dark red-brown in colour) prevails here. From the paucity of cores and larger blanks, which are almost entirely missing, we conclude that the radiolarite was used very economically.

There was an unusual occurrence of several artefacts from the Middle Slovak or Hungarian limnosilicites, and also an obsidian flake was found.

Most of the lithic material could be obtained from the environment of the neighbouring stations at Dolní Věstonice and Pavlov, while the radiolarite probably represented material the group brought with them, or traded for.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic


chopper chopper chopper


chopper
Amongst the remains of the mammoths there were coarse choppers, presumably intended to break the bones.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




photo 3
Just outside the settlement was this large scraper of local flint and a mollusc shell.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




Pavlov shaman
Gravettian Shaman from Pavlovian times, recreated from the burial of the shaman of Brno.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic




photo 3
Fossil shell personal ornaments, pierced for hanging as pendants, from Tertiary deposits.

The shell on the far right is identified as Semicassis miolaevigata by Oliva (1999)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2018
Source and text: Anthropos Pavilion/Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic








Milovice IV


milovice iv site
In 2009, Milovice IV, a new Gravettian site, was discovered in a very atypical location, situated almost on the valley floor at 175 m asl.

This photograph shows the view from the Milovice valley over the village toward the Dyje River floodplain in the distance. The arrow indicates the position of Milovice IV.

Photo: M. Frouz
Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)




Background to the discovery

Rare historical records repeatedly refer to a layer of bones of 'Diluvial creatures' located several metres below the surface of Milovice village; however, the buildings and the depth of the bone material prevented access. In July 2009, a road collapsed into a system of abandoned cellars (Figures 4, 5). Both the location and the excavation methodology at this new site, named Milovice IV, were atypical. Collapse of the sediments enabled us to reach into depths otherwise inaccessible, but also posed risks for further excavation and a bias in the record. The rescue excavation took place in 2009 and 2010, and both excavation seasons were linked with repair work on the village road. We stabilised the collapsed area of circa 2.5 m x 4.0 m using wooden poles, provided facilities for entry of fresh air, cleaned and documented the side sections and the cellar ceiling, recorded three-dimensional provenence of the objects still in place, and excavated the ceiling in the reverse order of usual archaeological procedure: from below to above. Due to instability of the overlying sediments, it was risky to expand the archaeological excavation too far, so that the archaeological features could not be excavated in full and not all types of the material provided statistically sufficient quantities for separation according to the layers. The mass of collapsed sediments were transported and wet-sieved at the Institute of Archaeology in Dolní Věstonice; however, these materials lack precise provenience data within the archaeological layers. This bias especially concerns the faunal and microfaunal remains and the clay pellets.

Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)

milovice iv site
Fieldwork at Milovice IV within the collapsed cellar. Deposit of mammoth tusks is visible in the right wall (section 1).

The Upper Paleolithic archaeological evidence was recovered from the loess at a total depth of 5 m below the ground surface, where it formed the ceiling of one of the old cellars (the cellar floor was located 7 m below the ground surface). The loess below and above the archaeological complex was thick and homogeneous.

Photo: M. Frouz
Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)




milovic iv tools
Group of mammoth bones in the cellar’s vault or ceiling (seen from below).

Photo: M. Frouz Source and text: Svoboda (2011)




milovice iv site
Planigraphy of Milovice IV (all layers): the cellar showing the collapsed oval-shaped area from the vault in the centre, position of the larger bones, documented lithics (black dots), and location of the lateral sections 1 and 2. Scale one metre.

The archaeological complex was relatively thick (0.6–0.7 m) and composed of dark anthropogenic sediments with burnt and unburnt bones, charcoal, ochre, and artefacts. This complex was stratified into several sublayers. The base was extremely dark and rich in burnt bone and charcoal. Three regular kettle-shaped pits were hollowed into the basal loess below; although we could not excavate them completely, depressions of the same shape and size, found frequently at Dolní Věstonice, Pavlov, and other sites in the area, have generally been interpreted as boiling pits.

Another important feature recorded at the base of the archaeological complex was a group of several mammoth tusks overlying each other, similar to tusk deposits excavated previously at the Gravettian site of Předmostí. Preservation of such regular features suggests that the basal archaeological layer had not been disturbed and lay in its original stratigraphic position. In contrast, the deposition pattern of the middle and upper layers shows the effects of redeposition.

Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)




milovice iv site
Stratigraphy of Milovice IV. Section 1 (left), showing the site's microstratigraphy in curvature of the cellar wall, with the deposit of several mammoth tusks at the base. Section 2 (right) had a complex hearth and small kettle-shaped pits at the bottom. Below are orthogonal projections of documented lithic artefacts (black dots) within the stratigraphic profiles.

The site of Milovice IV is located in the entrance of the Milovice blind valley. Approximately 2 km downslope within the valley lies another Gravettian site, Milovice I, associated with a large mammoth bone deposit and with a wide range of Pavlovian and later Gravettian 14C ages. The thickness of the cultural layers in the sections, combined with the earlier records of fossil bone finds scattered elsewhere in the village, leads us to suspect that Milovice IV represents one of the larger sites in terms of size, functional complexity, and intensity of occupation. The richness and diversity of the archaeological material recovered confirms this expectation. Although it is difficult to demonstrate an absolute contemporaneity of Milovice IV and I, a site of this size would have blocked the passage of large animals deeper into the valley.

Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)




milovice iv site
Plot of calibrated 14C ages from major Gravettian sites in the Dolní Věstonice - Pavlov - Milovice area alongside the NGRIP ice core δ18O record, generated using the 14C calibration program OxCal v. 4.1.7.

Concerning wood used as fuel, Milovice IV belongs to the group of larger Gravettian sites where burnt bone is dominant over wood (as at Předmostí). Thus, charcoal fragments were rare compared to burnt bone, and all are small in dimension.

Again, they were concentrated in the lower cultural layer, especially in basal parts of the hearths. Pine (Pinus sylvestris or Pinus cf. sylvestris ) was dominant in most of the analysed samples (total of 24 fragments), followed by spruce (Picea abies , 18 fragments) and/or larch (Larix decidua /Picea abies , 12 fragments). Additional trees are represented by individual occurrences only: fir (cf. Abies alba , 3 fragments) and willow (Salix sp., 2 fragments). An interesting find is a section of willow branch 2–3 years old and 15.5 mm in diameter.

The most characteristic feature at this site, however, is the large number of burned bone fragments, possibly indicating that bone was used as a fuel in the hearths. Certainly, the bones were exposed to a variety of temperatures and burned for different durations of time. Some bones display dark brown patches on the surface, possibly as a result of heating or roasting meat attached to them. However, the same type of modification was recorded on bones with no meaty content such as a reindeer astragalus or a wolf mandible, and a black grouse bone also displays these brown patches.

It has been noted that when fleshed bones were heated/roasted in an open fire, they could become carbonised in the area where there is no meat to cover the bone. Accordingly, we suggest these marks at Milovice IV likely result from bones coming into direct contact with flames or hot coals. The amount of burnt bone fragments at Milovice IV, which comprises about 15 000 of the total of 20 000, has no parallel at other sites in south Moravia, such as Dolní Věstonice I and II, Pavlov I, or Milovice I rather, it compares better with the large Gravettian sites of central and northern Moravia, namely Předmostí I and Petřkovice.


The faunal composition at Milovice IV also differs from the nearest large site Milovice I, dating to an equivalent period, where woolly mammoth dominates the entire assemblage, while small mammals (hares and foxes) are almost absent. Rather, the composition at Milovice IV recalls sites like Pavlov I and Pavlov VI, with a more balanced representation of small (hare–fox sized), medium (wolf–reindeer sized), large (horse–bear sized), and very large mammals (woolly mammoths). The presence of bird remains at Milovice IV, Pavlov I, and Dolní Věstonice II also provides good evidence that these animals represented an important contribution to the diet during the Gravettian period. In sum, despite the limitation of the excavated and sampled area, the faunal record at Milovice IV demonstrates similarities to some of the larger sites of the Pavlov Hills area, namely in terms of the species diversity and presence of various signs of human activity on the bones.

Source and text: Svoboda et al. (2011)




milovic iv tools
Milovice IV tools.

These stone tools were made of imported materials, predominantly flint and radiolarite.

Photo and text: Svoboda (2010)




milovic iv tools
Selection of the lithic industry (dominated by green-grayish radiolarite): microliths (1–10); partially backed points (11–12); endscrapers (13–14); burins (15–16).

Typologically, the assemblage of retouched tools is of Gravettian character, although some Aurignacoid features are visible in the endscrapers group. Other characteristic features are the predominance of burins over endscrapers and a high proportion of backed artifacts. Points and pointed blades occur only rarely. No technological and typological differences are visible between the individual stratigraphic layers.

The most numerous burins are on breaks (14 pieces), made by a simple single blow on fragmented coarse and massive blades. The next most numerous are burins on truncations (8 pieces), also made in multiple forms, followed by simple, single-blow burins made on proximal blade ends (four pieces), which could also represent fragments of other tools with a negative scar caused by hafting.

Other types are transverse burins on flakes (three pieces), massive single-blow burins on coarse flakes (three pieces), a single symmetrical dihedral burin, and a multifaceted burin made on the ventral surface of a distal blade end. Several multifaceted burins (but not as massive as the cores) were made on fragments of coarse flakes. By-products of burin manufacturing are represented by 84 burin spalls.

Photo and text: Svoboda (2011)





Milovice IV Fauna.
NISP (number of identified specimens)
and MNI (minimum number of individuals) of the animals groups
Taxon Common Name NISP MNI
Piscae indet. Fish 3  
Bufo viridis European Green Toad 20 5
Anura indet. Frog 1  
Lagopus lagopus Willow Ptarmigan 7 1
cf. Lagopus sp. Ptarmigan 3  
Tetrao tetrix sp. Black grouse 1 1
Aves indet. (size Tetrao tetrix / Lagopus sp.) size Ptarmigan 5  
Spermophilus cf. citellus sp.) cf. European ground squirrel 4 2
Spermophilus sp. Ground squirrel 1 1
Apodemus cf. flavicollis cf. Yellow Necked Mouse 2 1
Arvicola terrestris European Water Vole 1 1
Arvicolidae indet. (size Dicrostonyx / Microtus Vole (size Lemming/Vole) 3  
Arvicolidae indet. Vole 1 1
Myodes cf. glareolus cf. Bank Vole 1 1
Microtus gregalis Narrow-headed Vole 1 1
Microtus arvalis Common Vole 2 2
Lepus sp. Hare 63 2
Alopex lagopus / Vulpes vulpes sp. Arctic Fox/Red Fox 18 1
Canis lupus Wolf 62 2
Ursus sp. Bear 2 1
Carnivora Carnivore 11  
Equus sp. Horse 31 2
Mammuthus primigenius sp. Wooly Mammoth 130 2
Coelodonta antiquitatis sp. Wooly Rhinoceros 1 1
Rangifer tarandus sp. Reindeer 96 3
Cervidae Deer 13  
Total   483 31


References

  1. Oliva, M., 1999: Some thoughts on pavlovian adaptations and their alternatives, in Hunters of the Golden Age, the Mid Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia, 30 000 - 20 000 BP, Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia, 31 pp 219-229, ISBN 90-73368-16-2
  2. Oliva, M., 2009: Sídliště mamutího lidu u Milovic pod Pálavou. Otázka struktur s mamutími kostmi. Milovice. Site of a Mammoth People below the Pavlov Hills. The question of Mammoth bone structures, Anthropos, N.S. 19, 2009, 327 pp, 10 Tab. Brno
  3. Svoboda, J., 2010: Dolní Věstonice – Pavlov, Online: https://www.academia.edu/32596564/DOLN%C3%8D_V%C4%9ASTONICE_PAVLOV._Place_South_Moravia._Time_30_Thousand_Years_Ago._Mikulov_2010
    ISBN 978-80-85088-34-2
  4. Svoboda, J. et al., 2011: Paleolithic Hunting in a Southern Moravian Landscape: The Case of Milovice IV, Czech Republic Geoarchaeology, Vol.. 26, No. 6, November 2011 DOI: 10.1002/gea.20375
  5. Svoboda, J., Novak M., Sazelova S., Demek J., 2016: Pavlov I: A large Gravettian site in space and time, Quaternary International, 406 (2016) 95e105
    ISBN 978-80-85088-34-2
  6. Werra, D., Hughes, R., 2016: Investigating geochemical and petrographic methods for identifying siliceous rocks in archaeology, Archaeologia Polona, vol. 54: 2016

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