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Mladec Cave (Czech Republic)

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Definition:

The Upper Paleolithic cave site of Mladec is a multi-floor karst cave located in the Devonian limestones of the Upper Moravian plain in the Czech Republic.

The site has five Upper Paleolithic occupations, some containing modern human remains, Mladec-type projectile points, bone artifacts and other artifacts in a European site that would otherwise be assigned to the Aurignacian period of Europe; except that it lacks typical Aurignacian stone tools.

The human materials (skull, teeth, and subcranial bones) were identified below a calcite layer which was dated to approximately 35,000 years ago. Recent AMS dates on the bones themselves--somewhat controversially assigned to early modern human (once called Cro Magnon) have been reported at 31,000 years ago, making it one of the earliest Homo sapiens sites in Europe. Some debate exists concerning whether the skeletal material at Mladec is in fact transitional between Neanderthal and early modern human.

Excavator Jiri Svoboda interprets Mladec as a cemetery, if anything other than accidental deposition, rather than an occupation site.

Mladec was discovered by Joseph Szombathy in the 1880s.

Sources

Teschler-Nicola, M (editor). 2006. Early Modern Humans at the Moravian Gate: The Mladec Caves and their Remains. Springer, New York.

Wild, Eva M., et al. 2005 Direct dating of Early Upper Palaeolithic human remains from Mladec. Nature 435:332-335.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology, and the Guide to the Upper Paleolithic.

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