A micro saw, found during the early1920ies at Dolní Věstonice in Moravia. This place was first excavated by Karel Absolon.
Karel Absolon (June 16, 1877 – October 6, 1960) was a Czech paleontologist, and speleologist. Without any formal education as an archaeologist, he was involved into most of the important excavations of paleolithic sites in Moravia during the 1920 and 30ies.Beiing the grandson of Jindřich Wankel (“father of Czech prehistory) and married with the daughter of President Benes he was part of the intellectual networks of the Czechoslovakic interwar establishment
The career of Absolon was, undoubtedly, pre-destined by his family environment. His grandfather was Jindřich Wankel, a physician, who was however devoted to archaeology and speleology and whose discoveries meant a significant contribution to research in the Moravian Karst region. Karel Absolon took part in this research as a student and graduated in natural sciences from Charles University in Prague; in 1907 became senior lecturer in the field of physical geography and curator of the zoological collections at the Moravian Museum in Brno, and a year later he gained the position of Head of the Department of Zoology and Paleontology. He remained employed by the Moravian Museum until his retirement in 1939.
In 1926 Karel Absolon became an associate and a year later external full professor of the Charles University in the fields of paleontology and zoogeography. His scientific activities were broad. He worked in zoology, speleology, geomorphology, paleontology and archaeology. Like his grandfather was especially devoting to the Moravian Karst, researching and mapping it systematically. However, his most important scientific activity was in paleoanthropology. During the years of the first republic, between 1918 and 1938, Absolon continued research on what was left after decennia of quarrying and wild excavations at Předmostí near Přerov at the Moravian Gate. This task was certainly not an easy one, regarding the complex stratigraphy and excavation-history of the site.
The discovery of Gravettian settlements in Dolní Věstonice was of eminent importance, and Absolon made excavations there from 1924 to 1938. His work, which he sometimes financed himself, brought numerous findings, especially statuettes of animals and figures of women made of clay, bone and ivory, among them being the” Věstonice Venus”. Absolon and his team mainly aimed to uncover as large a space as possible and find out the size of the settlement. The site for him was one large camp of mammoth-hunters. For these reasons, stratigraphy was observed only marginally, and relationships between artifacts were noted only toward the end of Absolon’s research at Dolní Věstonice. As a result of his ability to make use of the media for promotion and his talent for popularizing science, he significantly affected the general cultural history of the interwar Czechoslovakia. Karel Absolon’s name thus became synonymous with research into the oldest history of man.
After the German occupation, there was a run between several German researchers to continue the work at Předmostí and Dolní Věstonice. While the notorious “Ahnenerbe” boys (Bohmers, Schwabedissen), marginalized Absolon but also other German archaeologists at Dolní Věstonice, the Zotz group enforcedly aimed to evaluate the huge material, that had been collected from Předmostí. Ironically nothing of the material, that had been curated by the Germans survived the WW II. In addition allmost all manuskrips about the field work got lost during this time.
Bohmers attempted to ‘correct the neglect of scientific techniques over the past fifteen years’ (Bohmers 1941). For him, the foremost question that needed to be answered was that of stratigraphy, and the specific geological age of the culture located at the site. The German team shifted the focus from historically oriented prehistory to a natural-science-centered investigation that renewed close ties with geologists and specialists on pollen and mollusks. Indeed this new approach was leading the way to more meticulous research after the WW II by B. Klima.
In the 1920s, summaries by leading international researchers (H. Breuil, J. Bayer, H. Obermaier, and O. Menghin) were published, which tried to classify the Paleolithic of Moravia, known so far. Breuil typologically recognized Mousterian, late Aurignacian (Gravettian) and Magdalenian. Some leaf points, known from Předmostí were suggested to be of Solutrian age (the Szeletian was unknown at that time).
In contrast to Breuil`s scenario, Absolon himself thought that a Middle Paleolithic was absent in Moravia and he tried to reconstruct an “Old Aurignacian”, from incomplete excavations in the Moravian karst and surface collections which consisted of Aurignacian-like scrapers and “Mousterioliths” combined with some leaf points. Absolons view, already outdated during the late 1930ies was the view of a 19th century naturalist, who looked for “evolutionary series” of stone tools. One cannot avoid the impression, that Absolon was convinced that all his “Glyptolithis” were animated beings. For his Předmostí-Monograph, which was published after he passed away, he had created thousands of pictures of his beloved artifacts.
After the war, Absolon, now being stigmatized as a “bourgeois patriarch” and possible “collaborateur” by the communists, had no possibility to work again at the sites, he had once made world-famous.
Great Monograph from From Martin Oliva via academia.edu: Dolní Věstonice I (1922-1942). Hans Freising – Karel Absolon – Assien Bohmers. Anthropos-StudiesVol. 37 /N.S. 29/:
and from the same author via academia.edu: Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Moravia
Thanks Martin for these wonderful books!