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The Krumlovský Les Type

Material name: Hornstones (chert) of the Krumlovský Les Type
Synonyms: Moravsky Krumlov Type
Material (geologic): Residual Jurassic/Cretaceous chert from Miocene sediments

Detail of chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002

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General characteristics

(In part adapted from Mateiciucová 1997 and Oliva 1997 & 2003

Geographical setting: The deposits with this type of material lie at the eastern slopes of the Krumlov Forest (Krumlový les), part of the Bobrava Plateau in Southern Moravia. The main extraction sites lie in a 3 km. long strip on a wooded slope between the villages Vedrovice and Maršovice, a bit over 20 km SW of Brno (for a more detailed map see Oliva 1997 or 2003).
Material and colour: This material was first mentioned in the international Literature as' the Moravsky Krumlov Type' (Lech 1981a), later described in more detail and renamed 'the Krumlovský les Type'. In the literature two subtypes are being distinguished, Type I being coarser, but occurring in larger nodules, in contrast to the finer and more glassy Type II which is mostly found as small and often internally fractured lumps.
The third type of material to be found here is a very well-cemented, colourful chert-breccia, which can occur in large blocks and is known as the "Kubšice type" (Oliva 1996)

The chert was originally formed in Jurassic and/or Cretaceous marine sediments that once covered large parts of the pre-Cambrian magmatic base of the Czech Massif. At the beginning of the Paleogene (Tertiary) these limestones were weathered away, leaving behind a deposit of chert nodules with a characteristic dark cortex of 'Desert Varnish' (see below). During the Lower Miocene (Eggenburg-Ottnang, according to the local nomenclature, which would be Burdigalian to Langhian in the international chronostratigraphy) these nodules got trapped in coastal sandy sediments, in which they are found today.
The blackish cortex, however, cannot be taken as an absolute characteristic for this type of material: Other residual deposits can show similar surfaces and on the other hand some nodules still have some chalky material attached to them.

  Desert varnish
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Small prehistorically tested nodule with slightly striped surface
size: 83 mm
Typical nodule
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2000
Typical nodule with blackish 'desert varnish'
size: 106 mm
  multicoloured chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Flake of secondary coloured chert with original cortex
size: 51 mm
Chalky cortex
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2000
Piece of typical chert with chalky cortex
length: 75 mm
  As for colour, we are very much tempted to write just 'variable', to spare us the trouble of looking up and writing down all the colours present in the Munsell, but here we go.
Most material is (light) grey (N5-7 and 2.5Y 7/1) or bluish to light bluish grey (10B 7/1 to 5PB 5/1), sometimes with a slightly higher chroma and patches of white (N8), pale yellow (2.5Y 7/3) and light olive grey (5Y 6/2).

Secondary reddish impregnated material like the banded flake above can show colours in the range of 5R 4/3-4/4 (weak red) and 5R 5/6 (red), as well as purple colours that can't be found in the standard Munsell Soil Colour charts.

The matrix of the multicoloured breccia (for examples see below) shows a very wide variation of colours ranging from (pale) yellows like 2.5Y 7/3 - 8/4 (pale yellow) and 10YR 7/6 (yellow), via pale, weak and light reds (10R 7/6 to 7/4 and 6/4 to 5/4, 7.5R 6/6, 2.5YR 7/4) to really red (7.5R 5/8, 10R 5/6). The embedded pieces of flint are mostly of the same greyish colour as the regular nodules.

The 'typical' cortex is mostly black (N 2) to very dark bluish grey (10B and 5PB 3/1) with occasional brown (7.5YR 4/3) or reddish brown (5YR 4/4) spots and patches, reaching only a few millimetres under the surface, but like mentioned above, some nodules posses a white or very light grey, thicker cortex. The siliceous mass is mostly opaque to slightly translucent.
The finer material of this type can be macroscopically easily confused with some types of erratic Baltic flint and several Jurassic cherts, especially if the desert varnish is absent.

The nodules are mostly fist-sized, but we saw some larger specimens, up to ca. 25 cm. In the literature dimensions of up to 30 cm and even 50 cm are mentioned (Oliva 2003). The flint-breccia does occur in very large banks or blocks, up to 2 meters and possibly even more, although we only found significantly smaller pieces on the surface.

Other information: View of prehistoric mining area
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2001
  The Krumlovský Les is quite unique as a prehistoric mining site for several reasons. Firstly, the area where the chert was extracted is very large: it extends over more than 2 kilometres in length, following the Paleocene shoreline which lies around 300-325 meters above sea level. Secondly, the area was probably never ploughed or even cultivated, so you can actually see the prehistoric diggings (like in the picture above), from ground level.
There are two main areas of prehistoric mining, the Northern one, consisting of the sub-sites IV to VIII, according to Oliva 1997, which lies North of the local road connecting Moravský Krumlov with Jezeřany-Maršovice, and a Southern one comprising sites I, II, III and IX.

In those two areas there are differences in the type of flint mined, and with it the dating of the prehistoric activity. The Northern part, being the older one, exploits the classical 'beach cobbles', and has been in production (at least) since the local Later Neolithic Moravian Painted Ware (Late Lengyel), although the abundance of the chert in Early Neolithic (LBK / Linear Pottery Culture) contexts makes an earlier start probable.
In the Southern group of mines additionally the multicoloured breccia was extracted, and saw most activity during the Early Bronze Age Unětice Culture. Surprisingly, there are indications that the site was still (or again) in use during the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age. Besides two burials in an abandoned shaft, there are numerous finds of Hallstatt pottery (Oliva 2003), but no 14C dates yet.
This sounds remarkably like the situation at the Chocolate Flint mine of Wierzbica-Zele in Southern Poland, parts of which are also dating to the Bronze/Iron Age transition (Lech, H. & J. Lech 1995a)

Excavations on the site have been carried out since 1995, but have been very limited in extend. Shafts seem to have been of the simple type with some small side-workings and vary in depth between 2.5 and 8 metres (see photo in Oliva 2003, p. 249, of a very brave archaeologist sitting at the bottom of an unsecured shaft excavated to a depth of 8 m in sand!), with round to oval plans 1-2 meters in diameter.
To give you an idea of the scale of the workings, from one single shaft come 150 000 lithics, of which were 7340 cores weighing more than 1200 kg in total (Oliva 2003, p. 246).

Knapping notes: We haven't experimented a lot with the material yet, but what we experienced doesn't make us very eager to do so. Even with a geologist's hammer you need a disproportionate amount of force to split the very rounded nodules. The stuff inside isn't very spectacular either. Due to weathering and being rolled in a coastal environment, together with a fair amount of frost-damage, most nodules show internal fracturing and react accordingly. But even the better preserved fragments show a unpleasant tendency to shatter, and flakes frequently snap before becoming detached.

The coarser Type I is comparable in its knapping properties with Valkenburg-type flint: flakes tend to be wide and flat and hardly show any strike-wave ripples or striations and have a matte surface when freshly struck.
Type II material is workable like most erratic Baltic flints, but with a slight tendency to hinges. A definite setback are the very small dimensions of these finer nodules, which bring your fingers very much in the danger-zone.
The breccia isn't really great either, but it comes in large blocks and is very well cemented. It has the knapping properties of very fine-grained quartzites like the material from Northern Bohemia.

Archaeological description: The Krumlovský les-type material has been extensively used since the Lower Palaeolithic, but seems to have been, like in the Middle Palaeolithic, a more locally used source. This changes during the early Upper Palaeolithic, as it is widely used in all of Moravia. Remarkable is the preference for the coarser Type I during the Aurignacian, as this material allowed the production of larger blades (Oliva 1997). In the later Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupation of the area, and with it the exploitation of the hornstones, seem to cease.

This situation changes dramatically during the Early Neolithic (Linear Pottery ulture/LBK), as the area seems to have been quite densely populated and the interest in its resources is renewed. From the direct surroundings, several large production-type settlements like Vedrovice (Mateiciucová 1997, with further references) are known. In this period the Krumlovský les material enters the large-scale LBK lithic distribution-network and is found on sites all over Moravia and locally in Bohemia (like in Bylany, a distance of 130 km). On the other hand, exotic materials like radiolarite, at least in part from Szentgál, and Jurassic flint from the Cracow-region enter the region. Interestingly these imports constitute more than half of all lithic grave-goods in the cemetery contemporaneous with the settlement in Vedrovice, but are only found in the graves of men and children. Females got only products from the local material (Mateiciucová 1997).
This should be the perfect fodder for 'gender archaeologists'. Depending from your point of view, you can either argue that females were consistent lower in rank than males, and only got the inferior local material, or you can follow the feminists and say that it must have been a matrilineal, matrilocal society, where only the 'Earth Mothers' were associated with these precious resources from the deep.

After the early Eneolithic (Lengyel culture) the importance of Krumlovský les declines, probably due to the intensifying of mining-activities at Stránská skála near Brno, but even so, a substantial percentage of the lithics from the Corded Ware culture in Moravia and Selesia come from this source.

Little is published about the distribution of the Krumlovský Les Type outside the Czech republic. We expect a rapid fall-off in most directions, especially towards the northwest, where the qualitative better sources of Stránská skála are situated only 30 kilometres away. Towards the East and South lie the sources of high-quality Radiolarite of Vlára and Antonshöhe respectively, but as this material comes mostly in small packages, there might be some distribution in these directions. Most "export" will probably have taken place towards the Southwest, into Austria and to the Northwest, towards Southern Bohemia. Unfortunately, Austria is a bit of a white spot on the map, as there is not much published about raw materials here.

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Krumlovský les
Locality: Krumlovský les, Znojmo district, Moravia
Synonyms: Mining site CZ 4, according to the Appendix to the Bochum Catalogue of Prehistoric Flint Mines in Europe, published in the 1995 special volume of Archaeologia Polona (vol. 33), on the occasion of the Seventh International Flint Symposium.
In the newest version of the original Catalogue (Weisgerber et al. (eds.) 1999), the four proven prehistoric mining sites in the Czech Republic are unfortunately not listed.

FlintSource samples 133-136 and 226-229.

Geographical description: The prehistoric mining fields are located on the Eastern side of the Krumlovsky les (Krumlov Forest) directly to the West of Jezeřany-Maršovice, 20 kilometres Southwest of Brno in Moravia (Czech Republic)
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 49° 02' 31" N
Long. 016° 24' 30" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)

The coordinates given were taken at the point where we collected our sample 226, and corresponds roughly with sub-site IV (Oliva 1997) at the Southern end of the Northern area (see above).

The Southern area starts a kilometre to the South-Southwest around

Lat. 49° 01' 55" N
Long. 016° 24' 05" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)

Co-ordinate precision: As the mining site is quite extended, the coordinates given are good enough to get you to either area.
Other topographical information: If you have your own transport, the sites are very easy to reach. Coming from Brno, you leave the city at the South, taking the 52/E461 in the direction of Vienna/Wien and Znojmo (NOT the D2/E65 towards Bratislava), leaving it after approx. 20 kilometres on the first exist to Pohořelice. In this town you have to cross two rivers, turning right shortly after the second, towards the Northwest in the direction of Loděnice and Moravský Krumlov. After passing through Jezeřany-Maršovice, some 9 kilometres up the road, you come into a wooded, fenced in area. As soon as you are inside the fence, park your car and decide if you visit the Northern or Southern area first.

If you are coming from Moravský Krumlov, finding the right way out, which leaves the town at the eastern side, can be a bit tricky. The surest direction you have is toward the railway station (nádraží), which is situated directly along the road towards Jezeřany-Maršovice.
After driving through the woods for about 8 kilometres, you pass a very small quarry at the right hand side of the road, and after a sharp curve to the left, you are about to leave the fenced-in parts of the woods. Park here, and go either North or South. Don't give any attention to the pit mentioned above: it lies a bit too high to cut into the Miocene sands-with-flints.

As we visited there were several spots where you could climb over the fence with the help of some type of wooden construction, but you might have to look around a bit to find a good spot to enter.

When visiting bring a copy of the map in Oliva 1997 or 2003 with the mining areas, as well as a topographical map like no. 83 "Okolí Brna" in the 1:50 000 series of the Klub Českých Turistů, which can be bought in good bookshops in every larger town.

Additional information: Old excavation trench
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2001
  In the picture above you see a collapsed excavation-trench in the Southern part of the mining area. To give you an idea of the size, we asked 2 meter Andreas to act as a scale.
There are several spots in the area where you can find the small archaeological diggings that weren't backfilled, so beware, as some of them can be quite deep.
Visitors information: The Krumlov Forest is an easy drive out of Brno, the capital of Czech Moravia with nearly 400 000 inhabitants, where everything you need in the way of accommodation and infrastructure is to be found. On our most recent trip to the area however, we stayed in Moravský Krumlov, the town that gave its name to the Krumlovský les, in the hotel Jednota.
The name of the place, which translates as "Unity", says it all: If you missed the iron curtain or are longing for the good old times of the cold war, the hotel on the central T.G. Masaryk square is the place to go. Inside and outside it is a time-capsule into the late 1970ies, with according menu, prices and clientele. Even our most experienced Eastern Block traveller, who grew up in the German Democratic Republic and does nothing but complain about the rising beer prices in the Czech Republic, was happily surprised to find such intact jewel of socialistic nostalgia.
As we stayed there (mind you, this was 2001, long before the Czech Republic joined the EU) we paid about 20 € for a three-bedded room, and we worked very hard on a complete menu and lots of beer to amass a bill to the same amount in the bar and restaurant. The only disadvantage is that the place is located on the central square, where all regional busses start and stop, and do so very early in the morning, around five.
Sampling information: Northern sampling area
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2001
  As the area is quite heavily wooded, the Northern part denser than further South, you will have to do some walking to get yourself a decent sample. The last time we visited, in 2001, there were some freshly bulldozered paths in the Northern area, like in the photo above, greatly improving visibility.
In the South you can look in tree tips, the deserted trenches, or on the spoilheaps of the excavation.

As the area is an important archaeological site, not threatened by development, and only punctually excavated, do not dig here. As always, if you have to take a sample (for scientific purposes only!), do not take more than you strictly need, avoid knapping in the area, do not collect cultural material, and report important finds to the local authorities.

  Coarse chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Small flake of very coarse, bluish grey chert with cavity
length: 33 mm
Typical Krumlovský Les chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Flake of the typical Krumlovský Les chert from the Northern area
size: 56 mm
  Type II chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Slightly patinated small flake of the fine Type II chert
length: 30 mm
Type I chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Flake of the coarse Type I material
size: 37 mm
  clouded chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Small prehistoric flake of transparent, 'cloudy' chert with some typical cortex
size: 24 mm
Secondary coloured chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Secondary coloured material with some intact chalky cortex.
size: 59 mm
Sample description: As we already described the colours of the different types in the introduction, we will give only short comments on the illustrations above and below. In the top row, there are two examples of the most typical chert of the area. Both come from the Northern part, are slightly bluish in colour and slightly translucent in the thinnest edges.
In the middle row there are a small flake of translucent, very fine 'flint-like' material and a larger, coarser, but still somewhat translucent chert.
Underneath these are two specimens from the Southern area, to give you an idea of the range of variation.

The first two pieces below do not come from the mine site itself, but were found on the surface of ploughed fields near Jezeřany, just to the west. Both specimens are very fine grained, and show why the Type I material is sometimes hard to distinguish from other types of material.
The four photos at the bottom give a good idea what the chert-breccia of the Kubšice type look like. This material is quite distinct, and unlike any lithic raw material we have seen elsewhere.

  Baltic-like chert
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2000
Piece of material very similar to Baltic flint
size: 52 mm
Jurassic chert
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2000
Prehistoric flake of the general 'Jurassic chert' variety
size: 50 mm
  dense breccia
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Piece of very dense breccia with some chalky cortex
length:48 mm
Flint breccia
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Flint breccia with very strongly coloured veins
size: 39 mm
  Large flake
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Large flake of the "Kubšice type"
size: 82 mm
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2002
Detail of the same flake showing breccia structure
field of view: ca 40 mm


Last modified on:
June 2, 2004
Contents primarily by:
Rengert Elburg
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