The beginnings of the pre-Homo sapien settlement in the surroundings of Karlovy Vary date as far back as the Lower Palaeolithic or Early Stone Age. Solitary proof of the presence of the Neanderthal people is a severely waterworn quartzite flake chipped from a disc-shaped core found at the polyculture site in Tašovice. The shape and the characteristic core-working technique classify the flake tool among the Palaeolithic Levallois-Mousterian industries.
Moreover, the find from the site in Tašovice is quite remarkable because it was found, worked, and re-used by Mesolithic man. The Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age is a period when rather frequent settlements appeared on our territory for the first time following isolated and rare traces of the presence of the first humans. The rocky hummocks and spurs rising above the Ohře River from Tašovice to Všeborovice are occupied by seven currently known settlements. According to their location down the stream of the Ohře River, the stations include: Tašovice I, Tašovice II, Dvory, Rybáře I, Rybáře II, Bohatice and Všeborovice. The finds discovered in the area of Karlovy Vary belong to the group denoted as the Sub-Ore Mountains Group.
The most thoroughly explored Mesolithic settlement is the Tašovice I – Starý Loket station. On site research was carried out by František Prošek from the Archaeological Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1949 and 1950. The excavations uncovered the remains of two dwelling places – i.e. two interconnected pits (60 or 70 centimetres deep) with dimensions of 400 x 300 and 350 x 300 centimetres and traces of cusped piles along their perimeter (with diameters ranging from 6 to 22 centimetres and depths from 10 to 30 centimetres). At the entrance, which was common to both the concaved dwellings, there were two slightly sunken fireplaces separated from the inner dwelling space by partitions and entry aisles, whereas the upper structure was supported by vertical poles embedded in the ground.
The quite voluminous collection of approximately 4,000 stone tool industry elements (blades, flakes, scrapes, engraving tools and small, finely worked stone tools, often of different geometric shapes, i.e. microlites) enables us to get an idea of the variety of production tools used by Mesolithic hunters and their chronology in Tašovice, as well is in relation to the remaining sites where such abundant collections have not been found. In addition, the site in Tašovice yielded evidence of the presence of Slavs in the surroundings of Karlovy Vary dating back to the 9th century.
Initial systematic excavations were carried out on the site of the hill fort by Josef Knett in 1911. He advised that he found charred posts. In 1925, Anton Bergmann continued with the excavations and reported the finding of similar charred posts in a rampart, as well as pottery and flint tools, which he handed over to the museum in Loket. Bergman was joined by Anton Gnirs in the same year. Interest in the locality continued in 1940 when excavations were carried out by Hermann Schroller who discovered abundant ceramic fragments, namely Slavic, and finds pertaining to the flint industry.
New research on the site of the hill fort in Tašovice commenced between 1948 and 1950 and this was carried out by František Prošek and later by Antonín Knor from the State Archaeological Institute. When conducting research on the site of the Mesolithic dwelling place, František Prošek discovered traces of a Slavic log house. The floor plan of the Slavic log structure was unearthed in the space between the two Mesolithic dwelling places.
The remnants of the excavated log structure covered an area of 350 by 300 centimetres and these were apparent owing to the charred logs. Only the torso of the structure has been preserved, particularly the north and west wall with a slightly sunken corner. The find has been preserved despite being unearthed at a rather low depth because the site of the fortified settlement had probably never been ploughed.
The northwest corner is the best-preserved part of the structure. The lowermost log lying in a roughly east-to-west direction was connected with another log positioned from north to south and above it, there was another log again positioned in an east-to-west direction. At the corner, the logs were placed crosswise, overlapping each other by 10 to 20 centimetres. No traces of posts were discovered in the corner area. The interior premises yielded numerous log fragments, apparently resulting from the destruction of the log house. The discovered fir logs were 5 to 10 centimetres thick. A cauldron-shaped hole was revealed inside the structure. No traces of post holes were found in the structure and we may thus conclude that the object was a log house as evidenced by the discovered log fragments.
The log house was built on an easy slope and was slightly sunken in the subsoil. Based on the Slavic hill-fort ceramics discovered in its interior, the remains of the log house can be dated back to the 10th century. In 1949, Antonín Knor dug through the northeast part of the rampart. The unearthed finds enabled the reconstruction of the appearance of the rampart surrounding the hill fort as a rampart enclosed by a ditch. The ditch spoil was used to fill in the inner part of the wall; this was insufficient, though, and additional soil from the surface layer on the inner side of the fortified settlement had to be used, whereby a wide and shallow groove was created.
The rampart was erected on the original surface. Its face was formed by horizontal timber lagging clenched between two poles. The rear of the rampart was also laced with timber, which was held in place by alternate poles on the outside and on the inside of the rampart. The outer poles stood opposite the two poles in the face of the rampart and these were interconnected with a partition. The inner part of the rampart was filled with clay and densely interwoven with wooden grating. On the inside, the openings between the laggings were sealed by a thin layer of stones, which concurrently weighed down the edges of the inner part of the rampart with wooden grating. In principle, it was a box-rampart system with sides approximately 250 centimetres long. With a view to the cubic capacity of the rampart, the wall height can be estimated at no more than 350 or 400 centimetres.
The dating of the ceramic finds does not exceed the first half of the 10th century when the hill fort was destroyed. According to the available circumstantial evidence, the fortified settlement existed for a short time and came to a violent end during which even the stone face of the wall was destroyed to the very foundations. The small area of the settlement with a small fortification indicate a fortified point whose purpose was to guard the Ohře River flowing from the defile between the Ore Mountains and Slavkovský les (Slavkov Forest) into the Karlovy Vary Basin. During the period of Romanticism in the 19th century, the place was denoted as Starý Loket (Old Elbow) as the people perceived the settlement as the predecessor of Loket Castle due to its location.
Today, we know that neither this presumption nor the identification of the locality with historical Sedlec are grounded on historical evidence. The site is situated on a marked rocky spur, along which the Ohře River forms a 90-degree bend, and after releasing itself from the rocky clench, it flows into the Karlovy Vary Basin. An extensive rampart system has been preserved in the locality from the Slavic period. The inner part of the hill fort is enlarged by an outer settlement damaged by opencast mining of poor quality coal – lignite – in the 19th century. The inner part of the settlement was also damaged by the opening of a granite quarry in the 19th century.