The Pavlovian in Moravia and Lower Austria: “Microsaws”


The “Pavlovian” is a filiation of the central European early Gravettian (28-25 k.a. BP), defined by an unique character of settlement patterns, stone and bone artifacts, the use of fired clay for the production of figurines, artistic expression and funerary practices.

Microlithic denticulated implements are one hallmark of the Pavlovian in Moravia and Lower Austria. The morphological spectrum includes a wide range of varieties, from tiny examples to relatively massive examples and varying from very finely to coarsely denticulated bladelets and blades. Some of the artifacts are backed and some are without any backing. Complete findings are relatively rare. At Jarošov-Podvršťa (17%) of the “microsaws” were pointed (“Jarošov-type pointed microsaw”), a phenomenon which is occasionally also known from other Pavlovian clusters.

“Microsaws „were first published by Absolon from Dolni Věstonice I. They were later described from Dolni Věstonice II, Pavlov VI , Pavlov I, and Pavlov I Southeast, where non backed uni- and bilateral fine denticulated lamelles, which were often broken, were found together with backed examples. At Pavlov, backed denticulated lamelles make maximal 2, 6 % of the inventory.

Some examples are known from the Gravettian sites in Lower Austria (Krems-Hundssteig, findings from the 19th century and new excavations), Krems-Wachtberg I and Krems-Wachtberg II, the new site at Gösing am Wagram) which together with fragments of zoomorphous burnt clay figurines and the  famous  children burials from Krems underline strong connections to the Pavlov hills in the north.  On the other hand Microsaws are absent from other large Lower Austrian Gravettian sites (Willendorf, Aggsbach, Grub Kranawetberg). It seems to be wise not to lump these sites under the “Pavlovian” label. On the other hand small parts within the Dolni Věstonice and Pavlov “Megasites”, which are characterized by “microsaws” may allow to identify functional or cultural peculiarities within the larger “Pavlovian” frame.

Microtraceological investigations about the use of the saws are absent. Almost ident
ical objects were reinvented during the late Magdalenian in S/W-France and of course during the N-African Epipaleolithic with its overwhelming spectrum of stone tools .

Lartet in the 1860ies already noted that the tiny “Magdalenian saws” may have been used for the production of ivory needles at La Madeleine and Bruniquel. The idea is attracting as fine needles are also known from the Pavlovian sites.

Another idea about the pointed subclass of “Microsaws” which can be extended to the non-pointed examples would be their use as component of complex hunting devices , which is  supported by documented traces of impacts in a longitude direction on one of the pointed “microsaws” from Jarošov.

” If the hypothesis that these artifacts were used as inserts in hunting implements is accepted, the denticulated edge may be interpreted as a means of increasing the productivity of these weapons – the denticulated edge causing increased tissue damage, resulting in increase bleeding” (P. Skrdla).


Suggested Reading:


Serrated Stone Artifacts

Paleolithic saws

Abri Pataud / Les Eyzies Stratum 4: Three Rare Artifacts

BOUYSSONIE, J. & H. BREUIL, éd: Musée d’ethnographie et de préhistoire du bardo: collections préhistoriques. Some examples of  Algerian Epipaleolithic „Saws and pointed saws“


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About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome!

About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University.

Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.

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