Volume IV Issue 1/2013 Pages 123–124


Karel Valoch (15 April 1920 – 16 February 2013)

Ondřej Mlejnek

Karel Valoch (1920–2013) was one of the most renowned European experts in Palaeolithic archaeology. He was born in the Moravian capital of Brno in a bilingual Czech-German family on 15 April 1920. As a child he developed an interest in Pleistocene archaeology being surrounded by a number of amateur archaeologists, first and foremost his brother-in-law Franz Czupik. Along with his elder brother Hugo and his friend Vilém Gebauer, they conducted several amateur archaeological excavations and surface surveys as early as the 1930s.

After the Second World War, which he spent working in a sawmill in Velké Karlovice in eastern Moravia, a number of members of his family were expelled from Czechoslovakia as Germans. Karel Valoch became a member of a group of young amateur scientists interested in the Palaeolithic which was in contact with Karel Absolon, a retired professor and renowned Moravian scientist. The majority of the members of this group (e.g. the anthropologist Jan Jelínek, the palaeontologist Rudolf Musil and the archaeologist Bohuslav Klíma) later became world renowned scientists and cooperated with Karel Valoch on his research on the Central European Pleistocene. Valoch began to work in the Diluvial Department of the Moravian Museum (later the Anthropos Institute) in 1952, where he remained until the end of his days.

Karel Valoch completed his dissertation devoted to the Moravian Magdalenian in 1960 and delivered lectures in Palaeolithic archaeology at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University from 1965 to 1986. Due to the Communist regime and the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Karel Valoch could not be appointed an associate professor prior to the 1990s.

During his long career Karel Valoch conducted numerous archaeological excavations in Moravia. Together with Rudolf Musil he documented all the open loess sections in the Brno and Vyškov areas in the 1950s. Archaeological excavations worthy of mention include the Szeletian site in Rozdrojovice, the Magdalenian occupation in Žitného Cave in the Moravian Karst, the excavation of the Pod hradem Cave, the Szeletian site in Neslovice, the Mesolithic settlement in Smolín, the type site of the Bohunician technocomplex in Brno-Bohunice, the Szeletian site Vedrovice V, the Epigravettien site on Vídeňská Street in Brno or the Lower Palaeolothic site Stránská skála I in Brno-Slatina. He was also a member of a number of scientific societies and on the editorial boards of L´Anthropologie and Antropologie (Brno) journals. As a museum employee he prepared numerous exhibitions, such as the unique exhibition “The Oldest Art in Europe”, where original pieces of Palaeolithic Art from a number of European Institutions were presented.

His professional career is primarily connected with Kůlna Cave, which was excavated between 1961 and 1976. This excavation was the largest Palaeolithic excavation in Czechoslovakia after the Second World War and attracted the attention of an international scientific audience. Karel Valoch cooperated with specialists in all the fields of Pleistocene research, e.g. with the paleontologist Rudolf Musil, the anthropologist Jan Jelínek, the malakozoologist Vojen Ložek and a number of others. Karel Valoch was thus one of the first promoters of the modern interdisciplinary research in European archaeology. The collection of Micoquian hand axes or bone remains of Neanderthals, for example, rank among the most impressive finds of this excavation.

Karel Valoch was known for his wide knowledge of the Palaeolithic and also for the kindness with which he dealt with his colleagues and also with all amateurs interested in the Palaeolithic. When I visited the Anthropos Institute for the first time in 1998 as a high school student, I was introduced to him and he spent hours explaining all I wanted to know concerning the Moravian Palaeolithic. After this experience I decided to apply for university studies in archaeology. His remarkable personality will be missed not only by Moravian archaeologists, but also far beyond.

Selected publications

1953: Paleolitická stanice s křemennými nástroji v Rozdrojovicích u Brna, Archeologické rozhledy 5, 439–441, 568.

1955: Spodní aurignacien v Maloměřicích u Brna. Práce Brněnské základny ČSAV 27:6, 321–340.

1956: Paleolitické stanice s listovitými hroty nad údolím Bobravy, Acta Musei Moraviae, sci. soc. 41, 5–44.

1960: Magdalénien na Moravě. Anthropos 12, N. S. 4, Brno.

1962: Die Blattspitzenindustrie von Ořechov II bei Brno, Anthropozoikum 10 (1960), 35–47.

1963: Borky I, eine Freilandstation des Magdalénien in Brno-Maloměřice, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 48, 5–30.

1965: Industrien des Szeletien im Raume des Kromauer Waldes in Südmähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, sci. soc. 50, 5–20.

1966: Die altertümlichen Blattspitzenindustrien von Jezeřany (Südmähren), Acta Musei Moraviae, sci. soc. 51, 5–60.

1967: Die altsteinzeitlichen Statione nim Raum von Ondratice in Mähren. Acta Musei Moraviae, sci. soc. 52, 5–43.

1968: Eine jungpaläolithische Station in Brno-Kohoutovice, Sborník prací Filozofické fakulty Brněnské univerzity 17, E 13, 67–80.

1973: Neslovice, eine bedeutende Oberflächenfundstelle des Szeletien in Mähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 58, 5–76.

1974: Podstránská, eine Oberflächenstation des Aurignacien in Brno-Židenice, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 59, 5–42.

1975: Ein spätes Aurignacien in Mähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. LX, 23–44.

1975: Eine endpaläolithische Industrie von Přibice in Südmähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. LX, 45–78.

1976: Das entwickelte Aurignacian von Tvarožná bei Brno, Acta Mus. Moraviae, Sci. soc. LXI, 7–30.

1976: Die altsteinzeitliche Fundstelle in Brno – Bohunice. Studie AÚ ČSAV v Brně 4/1, Praha.

1978: Die paläolithische Fundstelle Bořitov I in Mähren, Acta Mus. Moraviae, Sci. soc. 63, 7–24.

1979: Paleolit středního Pomoraví. Studie Muzea Kroměřížska ´79, 22–35.

1982: Neue paläolithische Funde von Brno-Bohunice, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 67, 31–48.

1983: Příspěvek k paleolitickému osídlení Prostějovska, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 68, 23–44.

1984: Výzkum paleolitu ve Vedrovcích V (okr. Znojmo), Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 69, 5–22.

1987: The Early Palaeolithic Site Stránská skála I near Brno (Czechoslovakia). Anthropologie XXV/2, 125–142.

1988 (ed.): Die Erforschung der Kůlna-Höhle 1961–1976. Moravské muzeum v Brně, Brno.

1989: The Early Upper Palaeolithic in the Eastern Part of Central Europe, Anthropologie XXVII, 2–3, 89–91.

1990: Mittelpaläolithische Fundstellen in der Umgebung von Dolní Kounice in Südmähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 75, 3–15.

1992: Die altpaläolithische Fundstelle Pravlov I in Südmähren, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 77, 19–34. Brno.

1993 (ed.): Vedrovice V, eine Siedlung des Szeletien in Südmähren, Quartär 43/44, 7–93. Bonn.

1993: V záři ohňů nejstarších lovců. In: Podborský, V. (ed.): Pravěké dějiny Moravy. Vlastivěda moravská sv. 3, Brno, 11–68.

1995: Early human activities at Stránská skála Hill. In: Musil, R. (ed.): Stránská skála Hill excavations of open-air sediments 1964–1972. Anthropos 26, N. S. 18, Brno, 159–167.

1995: The earliest occupation of Europe: Eastern Central and South-eastern Europe. In: Roebroeks, W., van Kolfschoten, T. (eds.): The earliest occupation of Europe. Univ. of Leiden and European Science Foundation, 67–84.

1998: L´art magdalénien en Moravie (Rép. Tchèque). Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche XLIX, 65–81.

1998: Das Altpaläolithikum im östlichen Mitteleuropa. Památky archeologické 89, 5–38. Praha.

2000: More on the Question of Neanderthal Acculturation in Central Europe, Current Anthropology 41:4, 625–626. Chicago.

2002: Die Magdalénien-Fundstelle an der Ochoser-Höhle im Mährischen Karst. In: Svoboda, J. (ed.): Prehistorické jeskyně. Dolnověstonické studie 7, 183–225. Brno.

2003: Výzkum staropaleolitické lokality Stránská skála I v Brně-Slatině, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. 88. 3–65. Brno.

2006: Die altpaläolithische Fundstelle Stránská skála I bei Brno (Tschechische Republik). Praehistoria Thuringica 11, 100–117.

2007: Textile in the Upper Palaeolithic? Some notes on the matter. Archeologické rozhledy 59, 143–154.

2008: Brno-Bohunice, eponymous Bohunicien site: New data, new ideas. In: Sulgostowska, Z., Tomaszewski, A. J. (eds.): Man – Millenia – Environment. Studies in honour of Romuald Schild. 225–235. Institute of Archaeology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

2009 (ed.): Mušov I (okr. Břeclav). Geologická a archeologická lokalita na jižní Moravě. Anthropos 30, N.S. 22, MZM Brno.

2011 (ed.): Kůlna. Historie a význam jeskyně. Acta Speleologica, Správa jeskyní České republiky, Průhonice.

2012: Szeletien na Moravě a na západním Slovensku, Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. Soc. XCVII/2, 167–198.

Karel Valoch was granted the Prize of the City of Brno in 2011. Photo by Jan Cága, Moravian Museum.