Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

Paleolithic – Mesolithic Age

Paleolithic – Mesolithic Age

The colonization of Europe

Dolní Věstonice

Epigravettian

Solutrean

Magdalenian cultures

Hamburg culture

Federmesser group

Ahrensburg culture

Bromme culture

Tardenoisian culture

Azilian culture

Swiderian culture

Creswellian culture

Swiderian culture

Asturian culture

Sauveterrian culture

Satsurblia

Villabruna cluster

Mesolithic Europe

Iron Gates Mesolithic

The colonization of Europe

The Gravettian toolmaking culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Palaeolithic era prevalent before the last glacial epoch. It is named after the type site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied.

The earliest signs of the culture were found at Kozarnika, Bulgaria. One of the earliest artifacts is also found in eastern Crimea (Buran-Kaya) dated 32 000 years ago. It lasted until 22,000 years ago. Where found, it succeeded the artifacts datable to the Aurignacian culture.

In August 2013, the Romanian archaeologists have found a 20,000 years old Gravettian pendant at the paleolithic site of Poiana Ciresului (English: Cherry Glade), near Piatra Neamț, in eastern Romania.

The newly discovered objects will be included in the Paleolithic artifacts collection of Târgoviște History Museum, in the new section of human evolution. The department will open at “Stelea” Galleries with the support of Dâmboviţa County Council.

The diagnostic characteristic artifacts of the industry are small pointed restruck blade with a blunt but straight back, a carving tool known as a Noailles burin. (See to compare with similar purposed modern tool: burin)

Artistic achievements of the Gravettian cultural stage include the hundreds of Venus figurines, which are widely distributed in Europe. The predecessor culture was linked to similar figurines and carvings.

People in the Gravettian period is characterized by a stone-tool industry with small pointed blades used for big-game hunting (bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth). It also used nets to hunt small game. For more information on hunting see Animal Usage in the Gravettian.

It is divided into two regional groups: the western Gravettian, mostly known from cave sites in France, and the eastern Gravettian, with open sites of specialized mammoth hunters on the plains of central Europe and Russia such as the derivative Pavlovian culture.

Artifacts and technologies of this and the preceding Aurignacian culture figure centrally in the romanticized adaptation of the culture in the popular fictional pre-history depicted in the Earth’s Children novel series which leans heavily on archeological finds and theories from this era. In the series, the Venus figurines are central to a fertility rite and worship of “The Great Earth Mother”, a nature spirit from which all life flows.

Périgordian is a term for several distinct but related Upper Upper Palaeolithic cultures which are thought by some archaeologists to represent a contiguous tradition. It existed between c.35,000 BP and c.20,000 BP.

The earliest culture in the tradition is known as the Châtelperronian which produced denticulate tools and distinctive flint knives. It is argued that this was superseded by the Gravettian with its Font Robert points and Noailles burins. The tradition culminated in the proto-Magdalenian.

Critics have pointed out that no continuous sequence of Périgordian occupation has yet been found and that the tradition requires it to have co-existed separately from the Aurignacian industry rather than being differing industries that existed before and afterwards.

The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) refers to a period in the Earth’s climate history when ice sheets were at their maximum extension, between 26,500 and 19,000–20,000 years ago, marking the peak of the last glacial period. During this time, vast ice sheets covered much of North America, northern Europe and Asia. These ice sheets profoundly impacted Earth’s climate, causing drought, desertification, and a dramatic drop in sea levels. It was followed by the Late Glacial Maximum.

During the Last Glacial Maximum, much of the world was cold, dry, and inhospitable, with frequent storms and a dust-laden atmosphere. The dustiness of the LGM atmosphere is a prominent feature in ice cores; dust levels were as much as 20 to 25 times greater than at present.

This was probably due to a number of factors: reduced vegetation, stronger global winds, and less precipitation to clear dust from the atmosphere. The massive sheets of ice locked away water, lowering the sea level, exposing continental shelves, joining land masses together, and creating extensive coastal plains.

Northern Europe was largely covered by ice, the southern boundary of the ice sheets passing through Germany and Poland. This ice extended northward to cover Svalbard and Franz Josef Land and northeastward to occupy the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea and Novaya Zemlya, ending at the Taymyr Peninsula.

Permafrost covered Europe south of the ice sheet down to present-day Szeged in Southern Hungary. Ice covered the whole of Iceland and almost all of the British Isles but southern England. Britain was no more than a peninsula of Europe, its north capped in ice, and its south a polar desert.

In Africa and the Middle East, many smaller mountain glaciers formed, and the Sahara, Gobi, and other sandy deserts were greatly expanded in extent.

The Persian Gulf averages about 35 metres in depth with the seabed between Abu Dhabi and Qatar even shallower, for the most part less than 15 metres deep. For thousands of years the Ur-Shatt (a confluence of the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers) provided fresh water to the Gulf, as it flowed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman.

Bathymetric data suggests there were two palaeo-basins in the Persian Gulf. The central basin may have approached an area of 20,000 km², comparable at its fullest extent to lakes such as Lake Malawi in Africa. Between 12,000 and 9000 years ago much of the Gulf floor would have remained exposed, only becoming subject to marine transgression after 8,000 years ago.

The Magdalenian (French: Magdalénien), refers to one of the later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe towards the end of the last ice age, dating from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in the Dordogne department of France.

Originally termed “L’âge du renne” (the Age of the Reindeer) by Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, the first systematic excavators of the type site, in their publication of 1875, the Magdalenian is synonymous in many people’s minds with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites also contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horse and other large mammals present in Europe towards the end of the last ice age. The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites have been found from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east.

There is extensive debate about the precise nature of the earliest Magdalenian assemblages, and it remains questionable whether the Badegoulian culture is in fact the earliest phase of the Magdalenian. Similarly finds from the forest of Beauregard near Paris have often been suggested as belonging to the earliest Magdalenian. The earliest Magdalenian sites are all found in France. The Epigravettian is another similar culture appearing during the same period in Italy and Eastern Europe (Moldavia, Romania).

The later phases of the Magdalenian are also synonymous with the human re-settlement of north-western Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum during the Late Glacial Maximum. Research in Switzerland, southern Germany and Belgium has provided AMS radiocarbon dating to support this. However being hunter gatherers Magdalenians did not simply re-settle permanently in north-west Europe as they often followed herds and moved depending on seasons.

By the end of the Magdalenian, the lithic technology shows a pronounced trend towards increased microlithisation. The bone harpoons and points have the most distinctive chronological markers within the typological sequence. As well as flint tools, the Magdalenians are best known for their elaborate worked bone, antler and ivory which served both functional and aesthetic purposes including perforated batons. Examples of Magdalenian portable art include batons, figurines and intricately engraved projectile points, as well as items of personal adornment including sea shells, perforated carnivore teeth (presumably necklaces) and fossils.

The sea shells and fossils found in Magdalenian sites can be sourced to relatively precise areas of origin, and so have been used to support hypothesis of Magdalenian hunter-gatherer seasonal ranges, and perhaps trade routes. Cave sites such as the world famous Lascaux contain the best known examples of Magdalenian cave art. The site of Altamira in Spain, with its extensive and varied forms of Magdalenian mobillary art has been suggested to be an agglomeration site where multiple small groups of Magdalenian hunter-gatherers congregated.

In northern Spain and south west France it was superseded by the Azilian culture. In northern Europe we see a slightly different picture, with different variants of the Tjongerian techno-complex following it.

It has been suggested that key Late Glacial sites in south-western Britain can also be attributed to the Magdalenian, including the famous site of Kent’s Cavern, although this remains open to debate.

The Federmesser culture or Federmesser group is a toolmaking tradition of the late Upper Palaeolithic era, of the Northern European Plain from Poland (where the culture is called Tarnowian and Witowian) to northern France, dating to between c. 12000 and 10800 BC (uncalibrated). It is closely related to the Tjongerian culture, as both have been suggested as being part of the more generalized Azilian culture.

It used small backed flint blades, from which its name derives (Federmesser is German for “feather knife”), and shares characteristics with the Creswellian culture, a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire. The Creswellian dates from c. 13.000 to 11,500 BP and was replaced by the Ahrensburg culture (11th to 10th millennia BCE).

Ahrenburg culture was a late Upper Paleolithic and early Mesolithic (or Epipaleolithic) nomadic hunter culture (or technocomplex) in north-central Europe during the Younger Dryas, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation resulting in deforestation and the formation of a tundra with bushy arctic white birch and rowan, that started with the glacial recession and the subsequent disintegration of Late Palaeolithic cultures between 15,000 and 10,000 calBC.

Northward migrations coincided with the warm Bølling and Allerød events, but much of northern Eurasia remained inhabited during the Younger Dryas. The extinction of mammoth and other megafauna provided for an incentive to exploit other forms of subsistence that included maritime resources. During the holocene climatic optimum, the increased biomass led to a marked intensification in foraging by all groups, the development of inter-group contacts, and ultimately, the initiation of agriculture.

The most important prey was the wild reindeer. The earliest definite finds of arrow and bow date to this culture, though these weapons might have been invented earlier. The Ahrensburgian was preceded by the Hamburg and Federmesser cultures and superseded by mesolithic cultures (Maglemosian). Ahrensburgian finds were made in southern and western Scandinavia, the North German plain and western Poland. The Ahrensburgian area also included vast stretches of land now at the bottom of the North and Baltic Sea, since during the Younger Dryas the coastline took a much more northern course than today.

The culture is named after a tunnel valley near the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Ahrensburg find layers were excavated in Meiendorf, Stellmoor and Borneck. While these as well as the majority of other find sites date to the Young Dryas, the Ahrensburgian find layer in Alt Duvenstedt has been dated to the very late Allerød, thus possibly representing an early stage of Ahrensburgian which might have corresponded to the Bromme culture in the north. Artefacts with tanged points are found associated with both the Bromme and the Ahrensburg cultures.

The different technolithic complexes are chronologically associated with the climatic chronozones. The re-colonisation of Northern Germany is connected to the onset of the late Glacial Interstadial between Weichsel and the Dryas I glaciation, at the beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial around 12.700 calBC.

Palynological results demonstrate a close connection between the prominent temperature rise at the beginning of the Interstadial and the expansion of the hunter-gatherers into the northern Lowlands. The existence of a primary “pioneer phase” in the re-colonisation is contradicted by proof of e.g. an early Central European Magdalenian in Poland.

Today it is commonly accepted that the Hamburgian, featured by “Shouldered Point” lithics, is a techno-complex closely related to the Creswellian and rooted in the Magdalenian. Within the Hamburgian techno-complex, a younger dating is found for the Havelte phase, sometimes interpreted as a northwestern phenomenon, perhaps oriented towards the former coastline.

The Hamburgian culture existed during the warm Bølling period, the brief Dryas II glaciation (lasting 300 years) and in the early warmer Allerød period.

However, the distribution of the Hamburgian east of the Oder River has been confirmed and Hamburgian culture can also be distinguished in Lithuania. Finds in Jutland indicates the expansion of early Hamburgian hunters and gatherers reached further north than previously expected. The Hamburgian sites with shouldered point lithics reach as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin. The younger Havelte phase has been proven for the area beyond the Pomeranian ice margin and on the Danish Isles after circa 12.300 calBC.

The “Backed Point” lithics of Federmesser culture are usually dated in the Allerød Interstadial. Early Federmesser finds follows shortly or are contemporary to Havelte. The culture lasted approximately 1200 years from 11.900 to 10.700 calBC., and is located in Northern Germany and Poland to south Lithuania. Fish-hooks were discovered in Allerød layers and emphasize the importance of fishing in the Late Palaeolithic. A certain survival of late Upper Palaeolithic traditions similar to contemporary Azilian (France, Spain) becomes apparent, such as the amber elk from Weitsche that can be considered as a link to the Mesolithic, amber animal sculptures.

Bromme culture sites are found in the entire southern and southeastern Baltic, and are dated to the second half of Allerød and the early cold Dryas III period. The “classical” Brommian complex is typified by simple and fast, but uneconomical, flint processing using unipolair cores. A new development noticed in Lithuania introduced both massive and smaller “Tanged Points”.

In Bromme culture this technology is proposed to be an innovation derived from tanged Havelte groups. As such, derivation of Bromme culture and even migration of its representatives from the territories of Denmark and northern Germany have been proposed, although other sources hold early Bromme not to be very well defined in (late Allerød) Northern Germany, where it groups with Federmesser.

Ahrensburg culture is normally associated with the Younger Dryas glacialization and the Pre-boreal period. The traditional view of the Ahrensburg culture being a direct inheritor of the Bromme culture in the late Dryas period is contradicted by new information that the Ahrensburgian techno-complex probably already started before the Younger Dryas, strengthening proposals to a direct derivation from the Havelte stage of the Hamburg culture.

Some recent finds, such as the Hintersee 24 site in southern Landkreis Vorpommern-Greifswald, would contribute to the argument of an early Ahrensburgian in northern Germany. Alternatively, flint artefacts of Bromme tanged-point groups is considered to prelude the techno-complex of the Ahrensburg culture and would point to the provenience of Ahrensburg from Bromme culture. As such, the Grensk culture in Bromme territory at the source of the Dnieper River was proposed to be the direct originator of Ahrensburgian culture.

However, the exact typological chronology of this culture is still unclear. Though associated with the Bromme complex, Grensk culture has its roots more defined in the local Mammoth Hunters’ culture.

Another possibility derives from the observation that on a regional scale, the Hamburgian culture is succeeded geographically as well as chronologically by the Federmesser culture, or Arch-Backed Piece Complex. The existence of a genuine Federmesser occupation in southern Scandinavia is highly controversial, and there is wide, though not unanimous, agreement that some Federmesser types constitute an integral part of the early Brommean artefact inventory.

Still, Federmesser types are also often found in close association with Hamburgian assemblages (e.g. at Slotseng and Sølbjerg) and tentative, dating from northern Germany shows some degree of contemporaneity between the late Hamburgian Havelte sites and the Federmesser ones. Therefore in southern Scandinavia the Federmesser may represent a brief transitory phase between the Hamburgian and the Brommean.

This corresponds with the notion that “tanged point cultures” such as “Brommian” or “Bromme-Lyngby” appear to be based on the Magdalenian, during the Allerød and were closely associated with reindeer hunting.

Stellmoor was a seasonal settlement inhabited primarily during October, and bones from 650 reindeer have been found there. The hunting tool was bow and arrow. From Stellmoor there are also well-preserved arrow shafts of pine intended for the culture’s characteristic skaftunge arrowheads of flintstone. A number of intact reindeer skeletons, with arrowheads in the chest, has been found, and they were probably sacrifices to higher powers. At the settlements, archaeologists have found circles of stone, which probably were the foundations of hide teepees.

The earliest reliable traces of habitation in the northern territories of Norway and western Sweden date to the transition period from the Younger Dryas to the Preboreal. More favourable living conditions, and past experience gained through seasonal rounds, prompted increased maritime resource exploitation in the northern territories.

The Hensbacka group on the west coast of Sweden exemplifies the cultural fragmentation process that took place within the Continental Ahrensburgian. Instead of new immigrations at the beginning of the Mesolithic, the discovery of deposited bones and new dating indicate that there was no (significant) break in settlement continuity. New knowledge provides aspects for a further autochthonous development, with a rapid climatic change stimulating a swift cultural change.

Dolní Věstonice

Dolní Věstonice (often without diacritics as Dolni Vestonice) refers to an Upper Paleolithic archaeological site near the village of Dolní Věstonice, Moravia in the Czech Republic, on the base of Děvín Mountain 549 metres (1,801 ft), dating to approximately 26,000 BP, as supported by radiocarbon dating.

The site is unique in that it has been a particularly abundant source of prehistoric artifacts (especially art) dating from the Gravettian period, which spanned roughly 27,000 to 20,000 B.C. In addition to the abundance of art, this site also includes carved representations of men, women, and animals, along with personal ornaments, human burials and enigmatic engravings.

It is an open-air site located along a stream. Its people hunted mammoths and other herd animals, saving mammoth and other bones that could be used to construct a fence-like boundary, separating the living space into a distinct inside and outside. In this way, the perimeter of the site would be easily distinguishable. At the center of the enclosure was a large bonfire and huts were grouped together within the barrier of the bone fence.

Soon after excavations of this site began in 1924, the significance of Dolni Vestonice became apparent. Thousands of ceramic artifacts, many of which depicted animals, were found associated with the site. The animals molded in the clay include lions, rhinoceroses, and mammoths. These figurines have been interpreted to have been of some ceremonial significance to the ancient occupants of the site.

In addition to these artifacts, two figurines depicting women were found. One of the figurines, known as the Black Venus, was found on a hillside amongst charred mammoth bones; the other depicted a woman with a deformed face.

Speculation regarding the relation of the second Venus figurine with a woman buried at the site, who had a deformation on the same side of the face, may imply a connection between the two. This woman’s skeleton was found buried under the scapula of a mammoth, with a fox pelt and red ochre. Such a burial is attributed to the relative importance of this individual to the people who occupied this site.

Contrary to popular beliefs regarding the hunting practices of people living in the Upper Pleistocene, the inhabitants of this site did not solely chase mammoths with spears. Indentations of netting on the clay floors of the huts found at the site were preserved in the archaeological record when the structures burned down, hardening the clay.

These indentations strongly suggest that these people were using nets to catch smaller prey in addition to hunting mammoths with spears. Finally, shells found at the site have been shown to originate from the Mediterranean, suggesting these people either traveled to collect them or were trade partners with other groups nearby.

Three inhabitants of Dolni Vestonice, lived 31,155 years ago (calibrated date) and to have mitochondrial haplogroup U, and one inhabitant mitochondrial haplogroup U8.

In the Vestonice 13 sample, the Y chromosomal haplogroup CT (not IJK-L16) (CTS109+, CTS5318+, CTS6327+, CTS8243+, CTS9556+, Z17718+, Y1571+, M5831+) was determined, for the Vestonice 15 sample, the Y chromosome haplogroup BT (PF1178+), in the Vestonice 43 sample, the Y chromosome haplogroup F (not I) (P145+, P158+). In the Vestonice 16 sample, the Y chromosomal haplogroup C1a2 (V20+, V86+).

The so-called Wolf bone is a prehistoric artifact discovered in 1937 during excavations led by Karel Absolon. Dated to the Aurignacian, approximately 30,000 years ago, the bone is marked with 55 marks which some believe to be tally marks. The head of an ivory Venus figurine was excavated close to the bone.

At an isolated site 80 meters upstream lies a lean-to shelter dug into an embankment. An estimated 2,300 clay figurines of various animals were found in and around the remains of a kiln. It may be one of the first instances of a covered oven, hot enough to fire clay. Most of the figurines were broken and found in fragments.

General consensus agrees that they were likely intentionally and perhaps ritualistically broken, but offers no conclusive reason. One hypothesis posits that these figurines had magical significance, and were intentionally fashioned from wet clay so that they would explode when fired.

The Dolní Vestonice artifacts also include some of the earliest examples of fired clay sculptures, including the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, and date back to 26,000 B.P. The female figurine is a ceramic statuette depiction of an obese, nude female. This figurine is similar to other figurines found throughout the area at nearby archaeological sites such as Willendorf and the Caves of Grimaldi.

In 2004, a tomograph scan of the figurine showed a fingerprint of a child who must have handled it before it was fired. A majority of the clay figurines at Dolni Vestonice were found around either the dugout or the central fire pit located within the site.

Particularly striking is a sculpture which may represent the first example of portraiture (i.e., representation of a specific person). This contrasts with the more highly abstracted and exaggerated styles of representation which were nearly universal until the dawn of high civilization; the majority of anthropomorphic figures on this site bear no distinct facial features, but this figure, carved in mammoth ivory, is roughly three inches high.

The subject appears to be a young man with heavy bone structure, thick, long hair reaching past his shoulders, and possibly traces of a beard. Originally found in 1891, there was concern that the finding might be a hoax.

Particle spectrometry analysis conducted at the University of Kansas Space Technology Center placed the date of the carved surface of the ivory at around 26,000 BP, but this does not prove the head is genuine as fossilized ivory is abundant in the area.

One of the burials, located near the huts, revealed a human female skeleton aged to 40+ years old, ritualistically placed beneath a pair of mammoth scapulae, one leaning against the other. Surprisingly, the left side of the skull was disfigured in the same manner as the aforementioned carved ivory figure, indicating that the figure was an intentional depiction of this specific individual.

The bones and the earth surrounding the body contained traces of red ocher, a flint spearhead had been placed near the skull, and one hand held the body of a fox. This evidence suggests that this was the burial site of a shaman. This is the oldest site not only of ceramic figurines and artistic portraiture, but also of evidence of female shamans.

During an excavation at the site in 1986, a well-preserved triple burial was unearthed. The site is dated to be 28 kya. The remains of three male individuals were found. It was initially believed that the middle of the three bodies was a female, but recent DNA evidence has proved the body was a male.

The bodies were lying in an extended supine position, covered by burnt spruce logs and branches. The body in the middle was placed first, being partially covered by the other two. The other two were in different positions. One was faced down and the other on his side with hands reaching the pubic region of the middle body. The heads of all three were covered with red ochre, the central body also having red ochre around his pubis.

All three individuals are theorized to be related based on three rare traits: unilateral absence of the frontal sinus, specific auditory exostoses, and impaction of the upper wisdom teeth. Each individual is believed to be about 16–25 years old at the time of death. The central body suffers from a genetic pathology resulting in the curved form of his legs. Red ocher, a pigment commonly used for rituals, was found over the pelvis.

Imprints of textiles pressed into clay were found at the site. Evidence from several sites in the Czech Republic indicate that the weavers of Upper Palaeolithic were using a variety of techniques that enabled them to produce plaited basketry, nets, and sophisticated twined and plain woven cloth.

A burial of an approximately forty-year-old woman was found at Dolni Vestonice in an elaborate burial setting. Various items found with the woman have had a profound impact on the interpretation of the social hierarchy of the people at the site, as well as indicating an increased lifespan for these inhabitants.

The remains were covered in red ochre, a compound known to have religious significance, indicating that this woman’s burial was ceremonial in nature. Also, the inclusion of a mammoth scapula and a fox are indicative of a high-status burial.

In the Upper Paleolithic, anatomically modern humans began living longer, often reaching middle age, by today’s standards. Rachel Caspari argues in “Human Origins: the Evolution of Grandparents,” that life expectancy increased during the Upper Paleolithic in Europe (Caspari 2011). She also describes why elderly people were highly influential in society. Grandparents assisted in childcare, perpetuated cultural transmission, and contributed to the increased complexity of stone tools.

The woman found at Dolni Vestonice was old enough to have been a grandparent. Although human lifespans were increasing, elderly individuals in Upper Paleolithic societies were still relatively rare.

Because of this, it is possible that the woman was attributed with great importance and wisdom, and revered because of her age. Because of her advanced age, it is also possible she had a decreased ability to care for herself, instead relying on her family group to care for her, which indicates strong social connections.

Furthermore, a female figurine was found at the site and is believed to be associated with the aged woman, because of remarkably similar facial characteristics. The woman was found to have deformities on the left side of her face.

The special importance accorded with her burial, in addition to her facial deformity, makes it possible that she was a shaman in this time period, where it was “not uncommon that people with disabilities, either mental or physical, are thought to have unusual supernatural powers”.

In 1981, Patricia Rice studied a multitude of female clay figurines found at Dolni Vestonice, believed to represent fertility in this society. She challenged this assumption by analyzing all the figurines and found that, “it is womanhood, rather than motherhood that is symbolically recognized or honored”.

This discovery challenged the widely held assumption that all prehistoric female figurines were created to honor fertility. The fact is that we have no idea why these figurines proliferated nor of their purpose or usage.

Epigravettian

The Epigravettian (Greek: epi “above, on top of”, and Gravettian) was one of the last archaeological industries and cultures of the European Upper Paleolithic. It emerged after the Last Glacial Maximum around ~21,000 cal. BP and is considered to be a cultural derivative of the Gravettian culture. Initially named Tardigravettian (Late Gravettian) in reference to several lithic industries found in Italy it was later renamed in order to better emphasize its independent character.

Three subphases, the Early Epigravettian (20,000 to 16,000 BP), the Evolved Epigravettian (16,000 to 14,000 BP) and the Final Epigravettian (14,000 to 8,000 BP), have been established, that were further subdivided and reclassified. In this sense, the Epigravettian is simply the Gravettian after ~21,000 BP, when the Solutrean had replaced the Gravettian in most of France and Spain.

Several Epigravettian cultural centers have developed contemporaneously after 22,000 years BP in Europe. These range across southern, central and most of eastern Europe, including south-western France, Italy, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Western Russia to the banks of the Volga River.

Its lithic complex was first documented at numerous sites in Italy. Great geographical and local variability of the facies is present, however all sites are characterized by the predominance of microliths, such as backed blades, backed points, and bladelets with retouched end. The Epigravettian is the last stage of the Upper Paleolithic succeeded by Mesolithic cultures after 10,000 BP.

In a genetic study published in Nature in May 2016, the remains an Epigravettian male from Ripari Villabruna in Italy were examined. He carried the paternal haplogroup R1b1 and the maternal haplogroup U5b. An Epigravettian from the Satsurblia Cave in Georgia examined in a previous study has been found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup J2 and the maternal haplogroup K3.

Solutrean

The Solutrean industry (22,000 to 17,000 BP) is a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic of the Final Gravettian. Solutrean sites have been found in modern-day France, Spain and Portugal. The term Solutrean comes from the type-site of “Cros du Charnier”, dating to around 21,000 years ago and located at Solutré, in east-central France near Mâcon.

The industry was named by Gabriel de Mortillet to describe the second stage of his system of cave chronology, following the Mousterian, and he considered it synchronous with the third division of the Quaternary period. The era’s finds include tools, ornamental beads, and bone pins as well as prehistoric art.

Solutrean tool-making employed techniques not seen before and not rediscovered for millennia. The Solutrean has relatively finely worked, bifacial points made with lithic reduction percussion and pressure flaking rather than cruder flintknapping. Knapping was done using antler batons, hardwood batons and soft stone hammers.

This method permitted the working of delicate slivers of flint to make light projectiles and even elaborate barbed and tanged arrowheads. Large thin spearheads; scrapers with edge not on the side but on the end; flint knives and saws, but all still chipped, not ground or polished; long spear-points, with tang and shoulder on one side only, are also characteristic implements of this industry. Bone and antler were used as well.

The Solutrean may be seen as a transitional stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs. Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs.

Solutrean finds have also been made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, England (Proto-Solutrean). The industry first appeared in what is now Spain, and disappears from the archaeological record around 17,000 BP.

The Solutrean hypothesis argues that people from Europe may have been among the earliest settlers of the Americas. Its notable recent proponents include Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution and Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter.

This hypothesis contrasts with the mainstream archaeological orthodoxy that the North American continent was first populated by people from Asia, either by the Bering land bridge (i.e. Beringia) at least 13,500 years ago, or by maritime travel along the Pacific coast, or by both.

The idea of a Clovis-Solutrean link remains controversial and does not enjoy wide acceptance. The hypothesis is challenged by large gaps in time between the Clovis culture and Solutrean eras, a lack of evidence of Solutrean seafaring, lack of specific Solutrean features and tools in Clovis technology, the difficulties of the route, and other issues.

In 2014, the autosomal DNA of a male infant (Anzick-1) from a 12,500-year-old deposit in Montana was sequenced. The skeleton was found in close association with several Clovis artifacts. Comparisons showed strong affinities with DNA from Siberian sites, and virtually ruled out any close affinity of Anzick-1 with European sources.

The DNA of the Anzick-1 sample showed strong affinities with sampled Native American populations, which indicated that the samples derive from an ancient population that lived in or near Siberia, the Upper Palaeolithic Mal’ta population.

Satsurblia

An Epigravettian from the Satsurblia Cave, a paleoanthropological site located 1.2 km from Kumistavi village, Tsqaltubo Municipality, in the Imereti region of Georgia, examined in a previous study has been found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup J2 and the maternal haplogroup K3.

Satsurblia Cave is a karst cave, formed in Sataphlia-Tskaltubo karst massif. The cave has many stalactites, stalagmites, travertines and large gourds of limestone. Prehistoric people first occupied the cave from around 25,500 to 24,400 BP. The next period of human occupation at Satsurblia took place from around 17,000 to 16,200 BP. The hiatus in human occupation at Satsurblia coincides with the Last Glacial Maximum.

Lithic artefacts, bone artefacts, charcoal, flax fibers, and pottery were discovered at the cave. The lithic artefacts show similarities to eastern Epigravettian sites. Perforated pendants made out of stalagmite and polished bovid bones were also discovered. The remains of yellow, red and brown ochre were also found at the site

Unlike most other Paleolithic sites found in Georgia that relied primarily on hunting one species, the people of Satsurblia appeared to have hunted a slightly more diverse range of species. The animal remains found at Satsurblia were dominated primarily by wild boar, followed by red deer.

In 2013, archaeologists found a temporal bone fragment of an ancient human in the cave. Direct AMS dating of the bone yielded an estimated date of 13,300 BP for the age of the bone. Researchers successfully extracted DNA from the petrous part of the temporal bone and managed to recover low coverage genomes.

The ancient individual from Satsurblia was male with black hair and brown eyes; however, the individual is one of the earliest found to carry the derived HERC2 allele for blue eyes. The Satsurblia individual also likely had light skin, as he was found to carry the derived SLC24A5 allele for light skin.

The Satsurblia individual was also lactose intolerant and did not carry the derived EDAR allele commonly found in East Asians and Native Americans. The Satsurblia individual belongs to mtDNA Haplogroup K3 and Y-DNA Haplogroup J1-Y6305*. About 1.7-2.4% of the Satsurblia individual’s DNA was Neanderthal in origin.

The Satsurblia individual is genetically closest to an ancient individual, dating to around 9,700 BP, found at the Kotias Klde rock shelter in Georgia. Together, they form a genetically distinct cluster referred to as Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (CHG). In comparison to modern human populations, the Satsurblia individual is closest to modern populations from the South Caucasus.

The Caucasus hunter-gatherers contributed significantly to modern European populations by way of the Yamna people. Around half of the Yamna people’s DNA came from the Caucasus hunter-gatherers. The Caucasus hunter-gatherers also contributed genetically to modern Central Asians and South Asians.

Villabruna is a sister clade of the earlier European Vestonice clade, but with significant input from an AfontovaGora3-related North Eurasian population, perhaps one that was living north of the Black Sea after the Kostenki people went the way of the dodo

Hence, the R1b lineage carried by Villabruna I9030 probably comes from the Eurasian steppe. Kotias, a Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer, is in large part derived from the same North Eurasian population, hence the close relationship between Villabruna and Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers

Villabruna and/or closely related foragers contributed significant ancestry to Neolithic Anatolians, and thus, indirectly, possibly to all extant Near Eastern and even many African populations. Kotias is also closely related to Neolithic Anatolians, but probably mostly via a more basal population, perhaps the so called Basal Eurasians, native to the Near East prior to the Villabruna and/or related gene flow across the Near East and parts of Africa.

Present-day East Asians might be ancient hybrids with admixture from the same or very similar North Eurasian population, although it’s possible that the North Eurasians that contributed ancestry to Villabruna, Caucasus foragers and Eurasian steppe populations were in fact partly East Asian.

It might be back migrations from Europe and the Eurasian steppe or Siberia to the Near East soon after the Ice Age. Yes, from Europe. At the time much of the Aegean Sea was dry land, and thus there was no geographic barrier between the European Balkans and Asian Anatolia. The two regions, which might seem very distinct to us today, were basically one.

Villabruna hunter-gatherer cluster appears in Central Europe, probably as a result of mixture between the remnants of post-Ice Age Europeans and a population relatively closely related to Caucasus and Siberian hunter-gatherers.

This is also the time when we see the first appearance of haplogroup R1 in Europe; more precisely R1b1, in the ~14 kyr cal BP genome from Villabruna. After all, R is the sister clade of Q, the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup in many parts of North Asia and the Americas.

Magdalenian cultures

The Magdalenian cultures (also Madelenian; French: Magdalénien) are later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic in western Europe. They date from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago, toward the end of the most recent ice age.

Magdalenian people dwelt not just in caves, but also in tents such as this one of Pincevent (France) that dates to 12,000 years ago. Magdalenian tool culture is characterised by regular blade industries struck from carinated cores.

It is named after the type site of La Madeleine, a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, commune of Tursac, in France’s Dordogne department. Édouard Lartet and Henry Christy, who conducted the first systematic excavators of the type site, publishing in 1875, originally termed the period L’âge du renne (the Age of the Reindeer).

The Magdalenian epoch is associated with reindeer hunters, although Magdalenian sites contain extensive evidence for the hunting of red deer, horses, and other large mammals present in Europe toward the end of the last glacial period.

The culture was geographically widespread, and later Magdalenian sites stretched from Portugal in the west to Poland in the east. It is the third epoch of Gabriel de Mortillet’s cave chronology system, corresponding roughly to the Late Pleistocene.

Besides La Madeleine, the chief stations of the epoch are Les Eyzies, Laugerie-Basse, and Gorges d’Enfer in the Dordogne; Grotte du Placard in Charente and others in south-west France.

The Magdalenian epoch is represented by numerous stations, whose contents show progress in arts and culture. It was characterized by a cold and dry climate, humans in association with the reindeer, and the extinction of the mammoth.

The use of bone and ivory as implements, begun in the preceding Solutrian epoch, increased, making the period essentially a bone period. Bone instruments are quite varied: spear-points, harpoon-heads, borers, hooks and needles.

The fauna of the Magdelenian epoch seems to have included tigers and other tropical species along with reindeer, blue foxes, Arctic hares, and other polar creatures. Magdelenian humans appear to have been of short stature, dolichocephalic, with a low retreating forehead and prominent brow ridges.

The Magdalenian epoch is divided into six phases generally agreed to have chronological significance. The earliest phases are recognised by the varying proportion of blades and specific varieties of scrapers, the middle phases marked by the emergence of a microlithic component (particularly the distinctive denticulated microliths), and the later phases by the presence of uniserial (phase 5) and biserial ‘harpoons’ (phase 6) made of bone, antler and ivory.

Debate continues about the nature of the earliest Magdalenian assemblages, and it remains questionable whether the Badegoulian culture is the earliest phase of Magdalenian culture. Similarly, finds from the forest of Beauregard near Paris have been suggested as belonging to the earliest Magdalenian.

The earliest Magdalenian sites are in France. The Epigravettian is a similar culture appearing at the same time. Its known range extends from southeast France to the western shores of the Volga River, Russia, with many sites in Italy.

The later phases of Magdalenian culture are contemporaneous with the human re-settlement of north-western Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum during the Late Glacial Maximum. As hunter gatherers, Magdalenians did not re-settle permanently in northwest Europe, instead following herds and seasons.

By the end of the Magdalenian epoch, lithic technology shows a pronounced trend toward increased microlithisation. The bone harpoons and points have the most distinctive chronological markers within the typological sequence. As well as flint tools, Magdalenians are known for their elaborate worked bone, antler and ivory that served both functional and aesthetic purposes, including perforated batons.

The sea shells and fossils found in Magdalenian sites may be sourced to relatively precise areas and have been used to support hypotheses of Magdalenian hunter-gatherer seasonal ranges, and perhaps trade routes.

In northern Spain and south-west France this tool culture was superseded by the Azilian culture. In northern Europe it was followed by variants of the Tjongerian techno-complex. It has been suggested that key Late-glacial sites in south-western Britain may be attributed to Magdalenian culture, including Kent’s Cavern.

Bones, reindeer antlers and animal teeth display crude pictures carved or etched on them of seals, fish, reindeer, mammoths and other creatures. Examples of Magdalenian portable art include batons, figurines, and intricately engraved projectile points, as well as items of personal adornment including sea shells, perforated carnivore teeth (presumably necklaces), and fossils.

The best of Magdalenian artworks are a mammoth engraved on a fragment of its own ivory; a dagger of reindeer antler, with a handle in form of a reindeer; a cave-bear cut on a flat piece of schist; a seal on a bear’s tooth; a fish drawn on a reindeer antler; and a complete picture, also on reindeer antler, showing horses, an aurochs, trees, and a snake biting a man’s leg. The man is naked, which, together with the snake, suggests a warm climate in spite of the presence of the reindeer.

Cave sites such as Lascaux contain the best known examples of Magdalenian cave art. The site of Altamira in Spain, with its extensive and varied forms of Magdalenian mobiliary art has been suggested to be an agglomeration site where groups of Magdalenian hunter-gatherers congregated.

In a genetic study published in Nature in May 2016, the remains of seven Magdalenians were examined. The three samples of Y-DNA analyzed were determined to be two samples of haplogroup I and one sample of HIJK.

Of the seven samples of mtDNA, all belonged to U, including five samples of U8b and one sample of U5b. They found affinity with a fossil from the Goyet Caves in Iberia, suggesting continuity from the earlier Aurignacian culture. Aurignacian affinities had been suggested earlier based on cultural practices.

Azilian culture

The Azilian is a name given by archaeologists to an industry in the Franco-Cantabrian region of northern Spain and southern France. It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 14,000 years ago (uncalibrated) and followed the Magdalenian culture. It can be classified as part of the Epipaleolithic or the Mesolithic periods, or of both.

Archaeologists think the Azilian represents the tail end of the Magdalenian as the warming climate brought about changes in human behaviour in the area. The effects of melting ice sheets would have diminished the food supply and probably impoverished the previously well-fed Magdalenian manufacturers, or at least those who had not followed the herds of horse and reindeer out of the glacial refugium to new territory. As a result, Azilian tools and art were cruder and less expansive than their Ice Age predecessors – or simply different.

Diagnostic artifacts from the culture include Azilian points (microliths with rounded retouched backs), crude flat bone harpoons and pebbles with abstract decoration. The latter were first found in the River Arize at the type-site for the culture, the Grotte du Mas d’Azil at Le Mas-d’Azil in the French Pyrenees (illustrated, now with a modern road running through it). These are the main type of Azilian art, showing a great reduction in scale and complexity from the Magdalenian Art of the Upper Palaeolithic.

The Azilian was named by Édouard Piette, who excavated the Mas d’Azil type-site in 1887. Unlike other coinages by Piette, the name was generally accepted, indeed in the early 20th century used for much greater areas than it is today.

Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History and a palaeontologist rather than an archaeologist, was taken around the sites by leading excavators such as Hugo Obermaier. The popularizing book he published in 1916, Men of the Old Stone Age talks happily of Azilian sites as far north as Oban in Scotland, wherever flattened barbed “harpoon” points of deer antler are found.

Subsequently, Azilian types of artefact have been defined more precisely, and similar examples from beyond the Franco-Cantabrian region generally excluded and reassigned, although references to “Azilian” finds much further north than the Franco-Cantabrian region still appear in non-specialized sources. Terms like “Azilian-like” and even “epi-Azilian” may be used to describe such finds.

The Azilian in Vasco-Cantabria occupied a similar region to the Magdalenian, and in very many cases the same sites; typically the Azilian remains are fewer, and rather simpler, than those from the Magdalenian occupation beneath, indicative of a smaller group of people.

As the glaciers retreated, sites increasingly reach into the slopes of the Cantabrian Mountains as high as 1,000 metres above sea level, though presumably the higher ones were only occupied in the summers. The grand cavern at Mas d’Azil is not entirely typical of Azilian sites, many of which are shallow shelters at the bottom of a rock face.

Painted, and sometimes engraved pebbles (or “cobbles”) are a feature of core Azilian sites; some 37 sites have produced them. The decoration is simple patterns of dots, zig-zags, and stripes, with some crosses or hatching, normally just on one side of the pebble, which is usually thin and flattish, and some 4 to 10 cm across.

Large numbers may be found at a site. The colours are usually red from iron oxide, or sometimes black; the paint was often mixed in Pecten saltwater scallop shells, even at Mas d’Azil, which is far from the sea.

Attempts to find a meaning for their iconography have not got very far, although “the repeated combinations of motifs does seem to some extent to be ordered, which may suggest a simple syntax”. Such attempts began with Piette, who believed the pebbles carried a primitive writing system.

The Azilian coexisted with similar early Mesolithic European cultures such as the Federmesser in northern Europe, the Tjongerian in the Low countries, the Romanellian culture of Italy, the Creswellian in Britain and the Clisurian in Romania (in a process called azilianization).

In its late phase, it experienced strong influences from the neighbouring Tardenoisian, reflected in the presence of many geometrical microliths persisted until the arrival of the Neolithic, that in some western areas was only adopted very late, almost in the Chalcolithic era. The Asturian culture in the area to the west along the coast was also similar, but added a distinctive form of pick-axe to its toolkit.

Creswellian culture

The Creswellian is a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire by Dorothy Garrod in 1926. The Creswellian is dated between 13,000–11,800 BP and was followed by the most recent ice age, the Younger Dryas, when Britain was at times unoccupied by humans.

It is also known as the British Late Magdalenian. According to Andreas Maier: “In current research, the Creswellian and Hamburgian are considered to be independent but closely related entities which are rooted in the Magdalenian.”

Diagnostic tools used to identify the period include trapezoidal backed blades called Cheddar points, variant forms known as Creswell points, and smaller bladelets. Other tool types include end scrapers made from long, straight blades.

A special preparation technique was employed to remove blades from a core through striking in a single direction, leaving a distinct ‘spur’ on the platform. The tools were made using a soft hammerstone or an antler hammer.

Other finds include Baltic amber, mammoth ivory and animal teeth and bone. These were used to make harpoons, awls, beads and needles. Unusual bevelled ivory rods, known as sagaies have been found at Gough’s Cave in Somerset and Kent’s Cavern in Devon.

Twenty eight sites producing Cheddar points are known in England and Wales though none have so far been found in Scotland or Ireland, regions which it is thought were not colonised by humans until later.

Most sites are caves but there is increasing evidence for open air activity and that preferred sources of flint were exploited and that tools travelled distances of up to 100 miles from their sources.

Some of the flint at Gough’s Cave came from the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire whilst non-local seashells and amber from the North Sea coast also indicate a highly mobile population. This matches evidence from the Magdelanian cultures elsewhere in Europe and may suggest that exchange of goods and the sending out of specialised expeditions seeking raw materials may have been practised.

Analysis of debitage at occupation sites suggests that flint nodules were reduced in size at source and the lighter blades carried by Creswellian groups as ‘toolkits’ in order to reduce the weight carried. Comparison of flint from Kent’s Cavern and Creswell Crags has led some archaeologists to believe that they were made by the same group.

Food species eaten by Creswellian hunters focused on the wild horse (Equus ferus) or the red deer (Cervus elaphus), probably depending on the season, although the Arctic hare, reindeer, mammoth, Saiga antelope, wild cow, brown bear, lynx, Arctic fox and wolf were also exploited.

Highly fragmentary fossil bones were found in Gough’s Cave at Cheddar. They had marks that suggested actions of skinning, dismembering, defleshing and marrow extraction. The excavations of 1986-1987 noted that human and animal remains were mixed, with no particular distribution or arrangement of the human bones. They also show the signs of the same treatments as the animal bones.

These findings were interpreted in the sense of a nutritional cannibalism. However, slight differences from other sites in skull treatment leave open the possibility of elements of ritual cannibalism.

Asturian culture

The Asturian culture is an Epipalaeolithic or Mesolithic archaeological culture identified by a single form of artefact: the Asturian pick-axe, and found only in coastal locations of Iberia, especially in Eastern Asturias and Western Cantabria.

It is believed that the Asturian tool was used for seafood gathering, and the sites where they are found are associated with very large shell-middens (concheros in Spanish), which can fill caves to the ceiling.

In other respects the culture is similar to the preceding Azilian of the area, which also extended further to the east along the coast. Whether there is an overlap in dating between Azilian and Asturian sites has been much discussed. Two concheros begin at 9280±440 BP, whereas Azilian dates come to an end after about 9500 BP. End dates for concheros include 7000 and 6500 BP.

The Asturian pick-axe tool is made from quartzite cobbles on average 8.5 cm long, which have been given a point at one end, which patterns of wear show was the part brought into contact in use. It is an exception to generalized microlithism of this time. The most likely use was for detaching limpets from rock. Bone tools and other types of bladed stone tools are noticeably rare around middens.

There are also shell-middens in Azilian sites, but the geology is somewhat different, giving abundant flint but not quartzite, as well as broader river estuaries with mussels and oysters, easier to collect, and more palatable, than limpets.

There has been discussion in recent decades as to whether coastal “Asturian” sites where pick-axes have been found reflect a seasonal or permanent occupation. There was a suggestion that seafood was exploited in late winter and early spring, when other food was scarce, and that the population may have moved elsewhere at other times, although as yet there is little evidence of inland sites (in contrast to the Azilian and the Magdalenian before that).

Oxygen-isotope studies of shells suggest they were not collected in the summer, though this does not settle the question. There are also plentiful fish remains, with more than twenty marine species at one site.

Red deer was the main mammal game, as well as roe deer, wild boar, aurochs and rarer ibex. The area had become heavily wooded, which gives red deer a more solitary lifestyle than the more open grassland landscape the area had had in the Magdalenian, when they gathered in herds. The Asturian culture seems not to have produced anything that can be called art, lacking even the Azilian painted pebbles.

Hamburg culture

The Hamburg culture or Hamburgian (15,500-13,100 BP) was a Late Upper Paleolithic culture of reindeer hunters in northwestern Europe during the last part of the Weichsel Glaciation beginning during the Bölling interstadial. Sites are found close to the ice caps of the time. They extend as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin.

The Hamburg Culture has been identified at many places, for example, the settlement at Meiendorf and Ahrensburg north of Hamburg, Germany. It is characterized by shouldered points and zinken tools, which were used as chisels when working with antler.

In later periods tanged Havelte-type points appear, sometimes described as most of all a northwestern phenomenon. Notwithstanding the spread over a large geographical area in which a homogeneous development is not to be expected, the definition of the Hamburgian as a technological complex of its own has not recently been questioned.

The culture spread from northern France to southern Scandinavia in the north and to Poland in the east. In Britain a related culture is called Creswellian.

In the early 1980s, the first find from the culture in Scandinavia was excavated at Jels in Sønderjylland. Recently, new finds have been discovered at, for example, Finja in northern Skåne. The latest findings (2005) have shown that these people travelled far north along the Norwegian coast dryshod during the summer, since the sea level was 50 metres (160 ft) lower than today.

In northern Germany, camps with layers of detritus have been found. In the layers, there is a great deal of horn and bone, and it appears that the reindeer was an important prey.

The distribution of the finds in the settlements show that the settlements were small and only inhabited by a small group of people. At a few settlements, archaeologists have discovered circles of stones, interpreted as weights for a teepee covering.

Swiderian culture

Swiderian culture, also published in English literature as Sviderian and Swederian, is the name of an Upper Palaeolithic/Mesolithic cultural complex, centred on the area of modern Poland. The type-site is Świdry Wielkie, in Otwock near the Swider River, a tributary to the Vistula River, in Masovia.

The Swiderian is recognized as a distinctive culture that developed on the sand dunes left behind by the retreating glaciers. Rimantiene (1996) considered the relationship between Swiderian and Solutrean “outstanding, though also indirect”, in contrast with the Bromme-Ahrensburg complex (Lyngby culture), for which she introduced the term “Baltic Magdalenian” for generalizing all other North European Late Paleolithic culture groups that have a common origin in Aurignacian.

Three periods can be distinguished. The crude flint blades of Early Swiderian are found in the area of Nowy Mlyn in the Holy Cross Mountains region. The Developed Swiderian appeared with their migrations to the north and is characterized by tanged blades:

this stage separates the northwestern European cultural province, embracing Belgium, Holland, northwest Germany, Denmark and Norway, and the Middle East European cultural province, embracing Silesia, Brandenburgia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Central Russia, Ukraine and the Crimea. Late Swiderian is characterized by blades with a blunted back.

The Swiderian culture plays a central role in the Palaeolithic-Mesolithic transition. It has been generally accepted that most of the Swiderian population emigrated at the very end of the Pleistocene (10,000 BP uncalibrated; 9500 BC calibrated) to the northeast following the retreating tundra, after the Younger Dryas.

Recent radiocarbon dates prove that some groups of the Svidero-Ahrensburgian Complex persisted into the Preboreal. Unlike western Europe, the Mesolithic groups now inhabiting the Polish Plain were newcomers.

This has been attested by a 300-year-long gap between the youngest Palaeolithic and the oldest Mesolithic occupation. The oldest Mesolithic site is Chwalim, located in western Silesia, Poland; it outdates the Mesolithic sites situated to the east in central and northeastern Poland by about 150 years.

Thus, the Mesolithic population progressed from the west after a 300-year-long settlement break, and moved gradually towards the east. The lack of good flint raw materials in the Polish early Mesolithic has been interpreted thus that the new arriving people were not acquainted yet with the best local sources of flint, proving their external origin.

The Ukrainian archaeologist L. Zalizniak (1989, p. 83-84) believes Kunda culture of Central Russia and the Baltic zone, and other so-called post-Swiderian cultures, derive from the Swiderian culture.

Sorokin (2004) rejects the “contact” hypothesis of the formation of Kunda culture and holds it originated from the seasonal migrations of Swiderian people at the turn of Pleistocene and Holocene when human subsistence was based on hunting reindeer.

Many of the earliest Mesolithic sites in Finland are post-Swiderian; these include the Ristola site in Lahti and the Saarenoja 2 site in Joutseno with lithics in imported flint, as well as the Sujala site in Utsjoki in the province of Lapland.

The raw materials of the lithic assemblage at Sujala originate in the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway. Concerning this region, the commonly held view today is that the earliest settlement of the North Norwegian coast originated in the Fosna culture of the western and southwestern coast of Norway and ultimately in the final Palaeolithic Ahrensburg culture of northwestern Europe.

The combination of a coastal raw material and a lithic technique typical to Late Palaeolithic and very early Mesolithic industries of northern Europe, originally suggested that Sujala was contemporaneous to Phase 1 of the Norwegian Finnmark Mesolithic (Komsa proper), dating to between 9 000 and 10 000 BP.

Proposed parallels with the blade technology among the earliest Mesolithic finds in southern Norway would have placed the find closer or even before 10 000 BP. However, a preliminary connection to early North Norwegian settlements is contradicted by the shape of the tanged points and by the blade reduction technology from Sujala.

The bifacially shaped tang and ventral retouch on the tip of the arrowpoints and the pressure technique used in blade manufacture are rare or absent in Ahrensburgian contexts, but very characteristic of the so-called Post-Swiderian cultures of northwestern Russia.

There, counterparts of the Sujala cores can also be found. The Sujala assemblage is currently considered unquestionably post-Swiderian and is dated by radiocarbon to 9265-8930 BP, the true age being approximately 8300-8200 CalBC. Such an Early Mesolithic influence from Russia or the Baltic might imply an adjustment to previous thoughts on the colonization of the Barents Sea coast.

Federmesser group

Federmesser group is an archaeological umbrella term including the late Upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic cultures of the Northern European Plain, dating to between 14,000 and 12,800 years ago (the late Magdalenian).

It is closely related to the Tjongerian culture, as both have been suggested. It includes the Tjongerian sites at Lochtenrek in the Frisian part of the Netherland, spanning the area of Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, northern Germany and Poland (Tarnowian and Witowian cultures).

It is also closely related to the Creswellian culture to the west and the Azilian to the south. The name is derived from the characteristic small backed flint blades, in German termed Federmesser (“quill knife”). It is succeeded by the Ahrensburg culture after 12,800 BP.

Ahrensburg culture

The Ahrensburg culture or Ahrensburgian (10.900-9700 BC) was a late Upper Paleolithic nomadic hunter culture (or technocomplex) in north-central Europe during the Younger Dryas, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation resulting in deforestation and the formation of a tundra with bushy arctic white birch and rowan.

The most important prey was the wild reindeer. The earliest definite finds of arrow and bow date to this culture, though these weapons might have been invented earlier. The Ahrensburgian was preceded by the Hamburg and Federmesser cultures and superseded by the Maglemosian and Swiderian cultures.

Ahrensburgian finds were made in southern and western Scandinavia, the North German plain and western Poland. The Ahrensburgian area also included vast stretches of land now at the bottom of the North and Baltic Sea, since during the Younger Dryas the coastline took a much more northern course than today.

The culture is named after a tunnel valley near the village of Ahrensburg, 25 km (16 mi) northeast of Hamburg in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Ahrensburg find layers were excavated in Meiendorf, Stellmoor and Borneck.

While these as well as the majority of other find sites date to the Young Dryas, the Ahrensburgian find layer in Alt Duvenstedt has been dated to the very late Allerød, thus possibly representing an early stage of Ahrensburgian which might have corresponded to the Bromme culture in the north. Artefacts with tanged points are found associated with both the Bromme and the Ahrensburg cultures.

Ahrensburg culture belongs to a Late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic (or Epipaleolithic) cultural complex that started with the glacial recession and the subsequent disintegration of Late Palaeolithic cultures between 15,000 and 10,000 BCE.

The extinction of mammoth and other megafauna provided for an incentive to exploit other forms of subsistence that included maritime resources. Northward migrations coincided with the warm Bølling and Allerød events, but much of northern Eurasia remained inhabited during the Younger Dryas.

During the holocene climatic optimum, the increased biomass led to a marked intensification in foraging by all groups, the development of inter-group contacts, and ultimately, the initiation of agriculture.

The different technolithic complexes are chronologically associated with the climatic chronozones. The re-colonisation of Northern Germany is connected to the onset of the late Glacial Interstadial between Weichsel and the Dryas I glaciation, at the beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial around 12,700 BCE.

Palynological results demonstrate a close connection between the prominent temperature rise at the beginning of the Interstadial and the expansion of the hunter-gatherers into the northern Lowlands.

The existence of a primary “pioneer phase” in the re-colonisation is contradicted by proof of e.g. an early Central European Magdalenian in Poland. Today it is commonly accepted that the Hamburgian, featured by “Shouldered Point” lithics, is a techno-complex closely related to the Creswellian and rooted in the Magdalenian.

Within the Hamburgian techno-complex, a younger dating is found for the Havelte phase, sometimes interpreted as a northwestern phenomenon, perhaps oriented towards the former coastline. The Hamburgian culture existed during the warm Bølling period, the brief Dryas II glaciation (lasting 300 years) and in the early warmer Allerød period.

However, the distribution of the Hamburgian east of the Oder River has been confirmed and Hamburgian culture can also be distinguished in Lithuania. Finds in Jutland indicates the expansion of early Hamburgian hunters and gatherers reached further north than previously expected.

The Hamburgian sites with shouldered point lithics reach as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin. The younger Havelte phase has been proven for the area beyond the Pomeranian ice margin and on the Danish Isles after c. 12,300 BCE.

The “Backed Point” lithics of Federmesser culture are usually dated in the Allerød Interstadial. Early Federmesser finds follows shortly or are contemporary to Havelte. The culture lasted approximately 1200 years from 11,900 to 10,700 BCE., and is located in Northern Germany and Poland to south Lithuania.

Fish-hooks were discovered in Allerød layers and emphasize the importance of fishing in the Late Palaeolithic. A certain survival of late Upper Palaeolithic traditions similar to contemporary Azilian (France, Spain) becomes apparent, such as the amber elk from Weitsche that can be considered as a link to the Mesolithic, amber animal sculptures.

Bromme culture sites are found in the entire southern and southeastern Baltic, and are dated to the second half of Allerød and the early cold Dryas III period. The “classical” Brommian complex is typified by simple and fast, but uneconomical, flint processing using unipolar (single-platform) cores.

A new development noticed in Lithuania introduced both massive and smaller “tanged Points”. In Bromme culture this technology is proposed to be an innovation derived from tanged Havelte groups.

As such, derivation of Bromme culture and even migration of its representatives from the territories of Denmark and northern Germany have been proposed, although other sources hold early Bromme not to be very well defined in (late Allerød) Northern Germany, where it groups with Federmesser.

Ahrensburg culture is normally associated with the Younger Dryas glacialization and the Pre-boreal period. The traditional view of the Ahrensburg culture being a direct inheritor of the Bromme culture in the late Dryas period is contradicted by new information that the Ahrensburgian techno-complex probably already started before the Younger Dryas, strengthening proposals to a direct derivation from the Havelte stage of the Hamburg culture.

Some recent finds, such as the Hintersee 24 site in southern Landkreis Vorpommern-Greifswald, would contribute to the argument of an early Ahrensburgian in northern Germany. Alternatively, flint artefacts of Bromme tanged-point groups is considered to prelude the techno-complex of the Ahrensburg culture and would point to the provenience of Ahrensburg from Bromme culture.

As such, the Grensk culture in Bromme territory at the source of the Dnieper River was proposed to be the direct originator of Ahrensburgian culture. However, the exact typological chronology of this culture is still unclear. Though associated with the Bromme complex, Grensk culture has its roots more defined in the local Mammoth Hunters’ culture.

Another possibility derives from the observation that on a regional scale, the Hamburgian culture is succeeded geographically as well as chronologically by the Federmesser culture, or Arch-Backed Piece Complex.

The existence of a genuine Federmesser occupation in southern Scandinavia is highly controversial, and there is wide, though not unanimous, agreement that some Federmesser types constitute an integral part of the early Brommean artefact inventory.

Still, Federmesser types are also often found in close association with Hamburgian assemblages (e.g. at Slotseng and Sølbjerg) and tentative, dating from northern Germany shows some degree of contemporaneity between the late Hamburgian Havelte sites and the Federmesser ones. Therefore, in southern Scandinavia the Federmesser may represent a brief transitory phase between the Hamburgian and the Brommean.

This corresponds with the notion that “tanged point cultures” such as “Brommian” or “Bromme-Lyngby” appear to be based on the Magdalenian, during the Allerød and were closely associated with reindeer hunting.

Stellmoor was a seasonal settlement inhabited primarily during October, and bones from 650 reindeer have been found there. The hunting tool was bow and arrow. From Stellmoor there are also well-preserved arrow shafts of pine intended for the culture’s characteristic skaftunge arrowheads of flint.

A number of intact reindeer skeletons, with arrowheads in the chest, has been found, and they were probably sacrifices to higher powers. At the settlements, archaeologists have found circles of stone, which probably were the foundations of hide teepees.

The earliest reliable traces of habitation in the northern territories of Norway and western Sweden date to the transition period from the Younger Dryas to the Preboreal. More favourable living conditions, and past experience gained through seasonal rounds, prompted increased maritime resource exploitation in the northern territories.

The Hensbacka group on the west coast of Sweden exemplifies the cultural fragmentation process that took place within the Continental Ahrensburgian. Instead of new immigrations at the beginning of the Mesolithic, the discovery of deposited bones and new dating indicate that there was no (significant) break in settlement continuity. New knowledge provides aspects for a further autochthonous development, with a rapid climatic change stimulating a swift cultural change.

Bromme culture

The Bromme culture (11.600-9800 cal BC) is a late Upper Paleolithic culture, which corresponds to the second half of the Allerød Oscillation. At this time, reindeer was the most important prey, but the Bromme people also hunted moose, wolverine and beaver. The landscape was a combination of taiga and tundra.

The culture is named after a settlement at Bromme on western Zealand, and it is known from several settlements in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. In Sweden, it is known from the country’s earliest known settlement at Segebro, near Malmö. It is characterized by sturdy lithic flakes that were used for all tools, primarily awls (sticklar), scrapers and tanged points. No stone axes have been found.

The Bromme culture and the Ahrensburg culture are so similar that it has been proposed that they should be classed as one and the same, under the label Lyngby culture, with the Bromme culture being recognized as an older northern branch of the same culture as the Ahrensburg culture.

Tardenoisian culture

The Tardenoisian (or Beuronian) is an archaeological culture of the Mesolithic/ Epipaleolithic period from northern France and Belgium. Similar cultures are known further east in central Europe, parts of Britain.[1] and west across Spain. It is named after the type site at Fère-en-Tardenois in the Tardenois region in France, where E. Taté first discovered its characteristic artifacts in 1885.

Characteristic artifacts differ from earlier industries by the presence of geometric microliths, microburin, scalene triangles, trapezoids and chisel-ended arrowheads and small flint blades made by the pressure-technique. The term is also used for several microlithic industries and sites in northern Italy and Eastern Europe and to distinguish the northern French Tardenoisian sites from the Sauveterrian industry in southern France. The Tardenoisian followed the Ahrensburgian, with which it was paralleled, and lasted from about 9.000 BC until 6.000 in the Neolithic.

 

Sauveterrian culture

The Sauveterrian is the name for an archaeological culture of the European Mesolithic which flourished around 8500 to 6500 years BP. The name is derived from the type site of Sauveterre-la-Lémance in the French département of Lot-et-Garonne.

It extended through large parts of western and central Europe. Characteristic artefacts include geometric microliths and backed points on micro-blades. Woodworking tools are notably missing from Sauveterrian assemblages. There is evidence for ritual burial.

Villabruna cluster

Ripari Villabruna is a small rock shelter in northern Italy with neolithic burial remains. It contains several Cro-Magnon burials, with bodies and grave goods dated to 12000 years BC. The site has added greatly to the understanding of the neolithic development of medical and religious practises in early human communities.

The ablation and removal of debris in the Cismon valley, in the Sovramonte municipality, province of Belluno, Italy during the late 1980s led to the discovery of several rock shelters (abris). Located at a height of 500 m (1,600 ft) above sea level they show impressive traces of the settlement by prehistoric people and their activities.

The rock shelters, named after their discoverer “Ripari Villabruna”, are part of a complex system of sites that reach from the lowest points of the valley to alpine heights. Excavations confirm that humans frequently occupied the site for short periods in a late Epigravettian cultural context, carbon dated to begin around 14,000 years ago and continuing to the middle of the ensuing Holocene.

A grave that contained a well-preserved skeleton was discovered at the base of the archaeological layers in 1988. Direct AMS dating of the skeletal remains revealed an age of 14,160 to 13,820 years. The burial took place during the first stages of the human settlement in the rock shelters.

The corpse was placed into a narrow, shallow pit of 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) depth, the head turned to the left with arms stretched touching the body. Six grave attachments were placed to the body’s left.

The typical equipment of a hunter-gatherer included a fire stone knife, a fire stone core, another stone as hammer, a blade of fire stone, a bone tip, a pellet of ochre and Propolis (a resinous matter, produced by bees). Limestone platelets decorated with ochre drawings had been placed on top of the tomb.

The excellent preservation of the Villabruna 1 skeleton helped to thoroughly investigate various aspects of skeletal biology, such as body size, craniofacial morphology, tooth wear, functional anatomy, and nutritional and pathological aspects.

Comparing Villabruna 1 and similar finds with today’s people widened the understanding of biocultural adjustments, the living conditions and survival strategies of the Paleolithic population of Europe. The remains were found to carry Y-DNA haplogroup R1b1a-L754* (xL389, V88). This is the oldest documented example of haplogroup R1b in Western Europe.

 

Grotta d’Oriente, a small coastal cave located on the island of Favignana, the largest (~20 km2) of a group of small islands forming the Egadi Archipelago, ~5 km from the NW coast of Sicily, Italy, is a key site for the study of the early human colonization of Sicily. The individual known as Oriente C was found in the lower portion of an anthropogenic deposit containing typical local Late Upper Palaeolithic (Late Epigravettian) stone assemblages.

Two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the deposit containing the burial are consistent with the archaeological context and refer Oriente C to a period spanning about 14,200-13,800 cal. BP. Anatomical features are close to those of Late Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Mediterranean and show strong affinity with Palaeolithic individuals of San Teodoro.

This confirms previous genetic analysis, suggest a substantial genetic homogeneity among Late Epigravettian hunter-gatherer populations of Central Mediterranean, presumably as a consequence of continuous gene flow among different groups, or a range expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

The Oriente C funeral pit opens in the lower portion of layer 7, specifically sublayer 7D. Two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the sublayers 7D and 7E are consistent with the associated Late Epigravettian lithic assemblages and refer the burial to a period between about 14200-13800 BP, when Favignana was connected to the main island.

The anatomical features of Oriente C are close to those of Late Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Mediterranean and show strong affinity with other Palaeolithic individuals of Sicily. The hunter-gatherer populations were morphologically rather uniform.

Mitochondrial haplogroup assignment of U2’3’4’7’8’9 is present in both pre- and post-LGM populations, but is rare by the Mesolithic, when U5 dominates.

European Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers fall along two main axes of genetic variation. These axes form a “V” shape.

Oriente C shares most drift with individuals from Northern Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg, and less with individuals from Iberia, Scandinavia, and East and Southeast Europe.

The robust record of radiocarbon dates proves that they reached Sicily not before 15-14 ka cal. BP, several millennia after the LGM peak.

 

 

Grotta d’Oriente, a small coastal cave located on the island of Favignana, the largest (~20 km2) of a group of small islands forming the Egadi Archipelago, ~5 km from the NW coast of Sicily, Italy, is a key site for the study of the early human colonization of Sicily. The individual known as Oriente C was found in the lower portion of an anthropogenic deposit containing typical local Late Upper Palaeolithic (Late Epigravettian) stone assemblages.

Two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the deposit containing the burial are consistent with the archaeological context and refer Oriente C to a period spanning about 14,200-13,800 cal. BP. Anatomical features are close to those of Late Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Mediterranean and show strong affinity with Palaeolithic individuals of San Teodoro.

This confirms previous genetic analysis, suggest a substantial genetic homogeneity among Late Epigravettian hunter-gatherer populations of Central Mediterranean, presumably as a consequence of continuous gene flow among different groups, or a range expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

The Oriente C funeral pit opens in the lower portion of layer 7, specifically sublayer 7D. Two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from the sublayers 7D and 7E are consistent with the associated Late Epigravettian lithic assemblages and refer the burial to a period between about 14200-13800 BP, when Favignana was connected to the main island.

The anatomical features of Oriente C are close to those of Late Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Mediterranean and show strong affinity with other Palaeolithic individuals of Sicily. The hunter-gatherer populations were morphologically rather uniform.

Mitochondrial haplogroup assignment of U2’3’4’7’8’9 is present in both pre- and post-LGM populations, but is rare by the Mesolithic, when U5 dominates.

European Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers fall along two main axes of genetic variation. These axes form a “V” shape.

Oriente C shares most drift with individuals from Northern Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg, and less with individuals from Iberia, Scandinavia, and East and Southeast Europe.

The robust record of radiocarbon dates proves that they reached Sicily not before 15-14 ka cal. BP, several millennia after the LGM peak.

Mesolithic Europe

The Balkan Mesolithic begins around 13.000 BC. In Western Europe, the Early Mesolithic, or Azilian, begins about 14000 BC, in the Franco-Cantabrian region of northern Spain and southern France. In other parts of Europe, the Mesolithic begins by 9500 BC (the beginning Holocene), and it ends with the introduction of farming, depending on the region between c. 6500 and 3500 BC.

Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last glacial period ended have a much more apparent Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In northern Europe, for example, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands created by the warmer climate.

Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviors that are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. Such conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until some 3500 BC in northern Europe.

The Azilian probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 14,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture. It can be classified as part of the Epipaleolithic or the Mesolithic periods, or of both. Archaeologists think the Azilian represents the tail end of the Magdalenian as the warming climate brought about changes in human behaviour in the area.

The effects of melting ice sheets would have diminished the food supply and probably impoverished the previously well-fed Magdalenian manufacturers, or at least those who had not followed the herds of horse and reindeer out of the glacial refugium to new territory. As a result, Azilian tools and art were cruder and less expansive than their Ice Age predecessors – or simply different.

Diagnostic artifacts from the culture include Azilian points (microliths with rounded retouched backs), crude flat bone harpoons and pebbles with abstract decoration. These are the main type of Azilian art, showing a great reduction in scale and complexity from the Magdalenian Art of the Upper Palaeolithic.

Maglemosian (c. 9000 – c. 6000 BC) is the name given to a culture of the early Mesolithic period in Northern Europe. In Scandinavia, the culture was succeeded by the Kongemose culture and Tardenoisian culture.

When the Maglemosian culture flourished, sea levels were much lower than now and what is now mainland Europe and Scandinavia were linked with Britain. The cultural period overlaps the end of the last ice age, when the ice retreated and the glaciers melted.

It was a long process and sea levels in Northern Europe did not reach current levels until almost 6000 BC, by which time they had inundated large territories previously inhabited by Maglemosian people. Therefore, there is hope that the emerging discipline of underwater archaeology may reveal interesting finds related to the Maglemosian culture in the future.

The type of stone toolkit remains one of the most diagnostic features: the Mesolithic used a microlithic technology – composite devices manufactured with Mode V chipped stone tools (microliths), while the Paleolithic had utilized Modes I–IV.

In some areas, however, such as Ireland, parts of Portugal, the Isle of Man and the Tyrrhenian Islands, a macrolithic technology was used in the Mesolithic. In the Neolithic, the microlithic technology was replaced by a macrolithic technology, with an increased use of polished stone tools such as stone axes.

There is some evidence for the beginning of construction at sites with a ritual or astronomical significance, including Stonehenge, with a short row of large post holes aligned east-west, and a possible “lunar calendar” at Warren Field in Scotland, with pits of post holes of varying sizes, thought to reflect the lunar phases. Both are dated to before c. 9,000 BP (the 8th millennium BC).

As the “Neolithic package” (including farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery) spread into Europe, the Mesolithic way of life was marginalized and eventually disappeared. Mesolithic adaptations such as sedentism, population size and use of plant foods are cited as evidence of the transition to agriculture.

In one sample from the Blätterhöhle in Hagen, it seems that the descendants of Mesolithic people maintained a foraging lifestyle for more than 2000 years after the arrival of farming societies in the area; such societies may be called “Subneolithic”.

In north-Eastern Europe, the hunting and fishing lifestyle continued into the Medieval Period in regions less suited to agriculture, and in Scandinavia no Mesolithic period may be accepted, with the locally preferred “Older Stone Age” moving into the “Younger Stone Age”.

The Iron Gates Mesolithic

The Iron Gates Mesolithic is a Mesolithic archaeological culture, dating to between 11,000 and 3,500 years BCE, in the Iron Gates region of the Danube River, in modern Romania and Serbia.

Major sites within this archaeological complex include Lepenski Vir. The latest radiocarbon and data suggests that the chronology of Lepenski Vir is compressed between 9500/7200–6000 BC. There is some disagreement about the early start of the settlement and culture of Lepenski Vir. But the latest data suggest 9500–7200 to be the start.

The late Lepenski Vir (6300–6000 BC) architectural development was the development of the Trapezoidal buildings and monumental sculpture. The Lepenski Vir site consists of one large settlement with around 10 satellite villages. It has been described as “the first city in Europe”, due to its permanency, organisation, as well as the sophistication of its architecture and construction techniques.

Numerous piscine sculptures and peculiar architecture have been found at the site. Archaeologist Dragoslav Srejović, who first explored the site, said that the sculptures of this size so early in human history and original architectural solutions, define Lepenski Vir as the specific and very early phase in the development of the prehistoric culture in Europe.

It is assumed that the people of Lepenski Vir culture represent the descendants of the early European population of the Brno-Předmostí (Czech Republic) hunter gatherer culture from the end of the last ice age. Archeological evidence of human habitation of the surrounding caves dates back to around 20,000 BC. The first settlement on the low plateau dates back to 9500–7200 BC, a time when the climate became significantly warmer.

Předmostí (Skalka) (often without diacritics as Predmosti or Predmost), situated in the north western part of Přerov, Moravia near the city of Přerov, is an important Late Pleistocene hill site of Central Europe. A fossil site at Předmostí is located near Přerov in the country Moravia of what is today the Czech Republic.

The skeletal remains of the few dozen people from Předmostí are among the most important finds ever made of anatomically modern humans, and are accompanied by items from the Gravettian culture. The Předmostí site appears to have been a living area with associated burial ground with some 20 burials, including 15 complete human interments, and portions of five others, representing either disturbed or secondary burials.

The non-human fossils are mostly mammoth. Many of the bones are heavily charred, indicating they were cooked. Other remains include fox, reindeer, ice-age horse, wolf, bear, wolverine, and hare. Remains of three dogs were also found, one of which had a mammoth bone in its mouth.

The Předmostí site is dated to between 24,000 and 37,000 years old. The people had robust features indicative of a big-game hunter lifestyle. They also share square eye socket openings found in the French material. Skulls of Předmostí individuals are significantly longer and more robust than of modern Europeans, with thick brow ridges, and prognathism, and show marked sexual dimorphism. They also display a degree of variability.

The Epigravettian was one of the last archaeological industries and cultures of the European Upper Paleolithic. It emerged after the Last Glacial Maximum around ~21,000 BP and is considered to be a cultural derivative of the Gravettian culture.

Three subphases, the Early Epigravettian (20,000 to 16,000 BP), the Evolved Epigravettian (16,000 to 14,000 BP) and the Final Epigravettian (14,000 to 8,000 BP), have been established, that were further subdivided and reclassified.

In this sense, the Epigravettian is simply the Gravettian after ~21,000 BP, when the Solutrean (22,000 to 17,000 BP) had replaced the Gravettian in most of France and Spain. The Epigravettian is the last stage of the Upper Paleolithic succeeded by Mesolithic cultures after 10,000 BP.

The Solutrean industry is a relatively advanced flint tool-making style of the Upper Palaeolithic of the Final Gravettian. Solutrean sites have been found in modern-day France, Spain and Portugal. The Solutrean may be seen as a transitional stage between the flint implements of the Mousterian and the bone implements of the Magdalenian epochs.

Faunal finds include horse, reindeer, mammoth, cave lion, rhinoceros, bear and aurochs. Solutrean finds have also been made in the caves of Les Eyzies and Laugerie Haute, and in the Lower Beds of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire, England (Proto-Solutrean). The industry first appeared in what is now Spain, and disappears from the archaeological record around 17,000 BP.

Several Epigravettian cultural centers have developed contemporaneously after 22,000 years BP in Europe. These range across southern, central and most of eastern Europe, including south-western France, Italy, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Western Russia to the banks of the Volga River.

Its lithic complex was first documented at numerous sites in Italy. Great geographical and local variability of the facies is present, however all sites are characterized by the predominance of microliths, such as backed blades, backed points, and bladelets with retouched end.

In a genetic study published in Nature in May 2016, the remains an Epigravettian male from Ripari Villabruna in Italy were examined. He carried the paternal haplogroup R1b1 and the maternal haplogroup U5b. An Epigravettian from the Satsurblia Cave in Georgia examined in a previous study has been found to be carrying the paternal haplogroup J2 and the maternal haplogroup K3.

A group of 80 institutes and 117 researchers published results of their genome research in the Nature magazine in February 2018. Genomes of 235 ancient inhabitants were studied. When it comes to the area surrounding Lepenski Vir (localities of Starčevo, Saraorci-Jezava, Lepenski Vir, Padina, Vlasac), it was established that the region’s original population, the hunter gatherers, inhabited the area for a long time.

Starting from c.7500 BC, new population began to settle the Balkans and the Danube valley. Evidence shows that the Neolithic newcomers mixed with the indigenous population in Lepenski Vir. Arriving from Asia Minor, the immigrants had a completely different lifestyle. With them, they brought a knowledge of agriculture, first grain crops and husbandry: sheep, cattle and goats.

Based on the research, Starović concluded that the blending of the population occurred almost immediately, during the first immigrant generation, which was unique as in the other parts of Europe two such different communities would live next to each other at first. He believes that this melting pot was a keystone of human development in Europe.

It produced the boom of the Lepenski Vir culture, establishing the “original Balkan Neolithic, the most original occurrence in the entire prehistory in Europe, which founded all we know today – the concepts of village, square, family – which then spread over and overwhelmed the continent”. Modern Serbian population, which began settling in the area in the 6th century, still incorporates some 10% of the genes from this original mix.

Lepenski Vir gives us a rare opportunity to observe the gradual transition from the hunter gatherer way of life of early humans to the agricultural economy of the Neolithic. More and more complex social structure influenced the development of planning and self-discipline necessary for agricultural production.

Once agricultural products became a commodity, a new way of life replaced the old social structure. Distinct characteristics of Lepenski Vir culture, its house architecture and fish sculptures, disappeared gradually.

Lepenski Vir III is representative of a Neolithic site and is more typical of other sites across a much wider area. The exact mechanism of this transition remains unclear, but the evidence suggests development through evolution rather than outside invasion.

A February 2018 study published in Nature included an analysis of a large number of individuals from the Iron Gates Mesolithic dating from 9500 BC to 5000 BC. They were most closely related to Western European hunter-gatherers, but with some additional affinity toward Eastern European hunter-gatherers and Anatolian Neolithic farmers.

Their most common maternal haplogroup was U5, typical of European hunter-gatherers, but they also carried haplogroups U4, K1, and a single case of H13. Their paternal haplogroups were I and R, which predominated in other European hunter-gatherers as well. Where a finer classification was possible, the R was specifically R1b1a-L754 (not belonging to subclade R1b1a1a-P297), and the I belonged to I2a-L460.

Numerous individuals from the Mesolithic Iron Gates culture of the central Danube (modern Romania and Serbia), dating from 10,000 to 8,500 BP – most of them falling into R1b-L754;This is the same as Villabruna 1, found in an Epigravettian culture setting in the Cismon valley (modern Veneto, Italy), who lived circa 14,000 years BP and belonged to R1b-L754.

The Human Journey: Early Settlements in Europe

Aurignacian culture

Gravettian

Links on the Gravettians of the Ice Age

Perigordian

Hamburg culture

Magdalenian

Solutrean

Ahrensburg culture

Federmesser culture

Venus figurines

Last Glacial Maximum

Upper Paleolithic

Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-DNA_haplogroups_in_populations_of_Europe

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Balkans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Europe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistory_of_Southeastern_Europe

 

 

 

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: