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Dolní Vestonice (Czech Republic)

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Dolni Vestonice Venus

Dolni Vestonice Venus

Li-sung
Definition:

Dolní Vestonice (Dohlnee VEST-oh-neets-eh) is a large Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian) occupation, loaded with information about the technology, art, animal exploitation, site settlement patterns and human burial activities of 30,000 years ago. The site lies buried beneath a thick layer of loess, on the slopes of the Pavlov Hills above the Dyje river. The site is near the modern town of Brno in the region of Moravia in the eastern part of what is now the Czech Republic.

Artifacts from Dolní Vestonice

The site has three separate parts (called in the literature DV1, DV2, and DV3), but all of them represent the same Gravettian occupation: they were named after the excavation trenches that were dug to investigate them. Among the features identified at Dolní Vestonice are hearths, possible structures, and human burials. One grave contains two men and one woman; a lithic tool workshop has also been identified. One grave of an adult woman contained burial goods, including several stone tools, five fox incisors and a mammoth scapula. In addition, a thin layer of red ochre was placed over the bones, indicating a specific burial ritual.

Lithic tools from the site include distinctive Gravettian objects, such as backed points, blades and bladelets. Other artifacts recovered from Dolní Vestonice include mammoth ivory and bone battens, which have been interpreted as loom sticks, evidence of weaving during the Gravettian. Other important finds at Dolni Vestonice include fired-clay figurines, such as the venus illustrated above.

Radiocarbon dates on the human remains and charcoal recovered from hearths range between 31,383-30,869 calibrated radiocarbon years before the present (cal BP).

Archaeology at Dolní Vestonice

Discovered in 1922, Dolní Vestonice was first excavated during the first half of the 20th century. A salvage operation was undertaken in the 1980s, when borrowing of the soil for dam construction was eminent. Much of the original DV2 excavation was destroyed during the dam construction, but the operation which exposed additional Gravettian deposits in the region. Ivestigations in the 1990s were conducted by Petr Škrdla of the Institute of Archaeology at Brno. These excavations continue as part of the Moravian Gate Project, an international project including the Centre for Palaeolithic and Palaeoethnological Research at the Institute of Archaeology, Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Sources

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Upper Paleolithic, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Beresford-Jones D, Taylor S, Paine C, Pryor A, Svoboda J, and Jones M. 2011. Rapid climate change in the Upper Palaeolithic: the record of charcoal conifer rings from the Gravettian site of Dolní Vestonice, Czech Republic. Quaternary Science Reviews 30(15-16):1948-1964.

Formicola V. 2007. From the sunghir children to the Romito dwarf: Aspects of the Upper Paleolithic funerary landscape. Current Anthropology 48(3):446-452.

Marciniak A. 2008. Europe, Central and Eastern. In: Pearsall DM, editor. Encyclopedia of Archaeology. New York: Academic Press. p 1199-1210.

Soffer O. 2004. Recovering Perishable Technologies through Use Wear on Tools: Preliminary Evidence for Upper Paleolithic Weaving and Net Making. Current Anthropology 45(3):407-424.

Tomaskova S. 2003. Nationalism, local histories and the making of data in archaeology. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 9:485-507.

Trinkaus E, and Jelinik J. 1997. Human remains from the Moravian Gravettian: the Dolní Vestonice 3 postcrania. Journal of Human Evolution 33:33–82.

Also Known As: Grottes du Pape
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