The lithic raw material economy of the Banat (SW-Romania) during the early Upper Palaeolithic

Estimating modern human dispersal is a tricky task, especially considering the many gaps in our current knowledge of past land use and provisioning strategies. Hence, before something meaningful can be said on such a broad scale, these mechanisms should be understood on the local and regional scales along the assumed migratory routes in Africa and beyond. One such key-area in the early modern human peopling of Europe is the Banat in Southwest Romania, which is home to the famous Oase Cave early modern human remains (± 40 ka cal BP).

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Ine Léonard, PhD Candidate in B1.

Ine Léonard, PhD Candidate in B1.

Sadly, these fossils are deprived of a reliable archaeological context. Fortunately, three open-air localities, of which two multi-layered, comprise rich lithic artefact records that have been dated to this crucial point in time.

Since organic preservation at these sites is poor, the focus of research is on the lithic artefacts. To establish understanding of the aforementioned mechanisms contained within these archaeological assemblages, the lithic records are evaluated regarding the represented technological strategies, raw materials and cortex relicts. For the raw material provenance study, geochemical –X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy– and petrographic analysis were used to avoid the impediment of country-/language-specific nomenclature. The integration of these data enabled the estimation of the lithic raw material economy of the Banat during the early Upper Palaeolithic that involved a peculiar technological organization of the landscape along with the manifold usage of local and regional raw materials, which corresponded to provisioning strategies ranging from ad hoc to specialized in nature.

Moreover, an interesting relation between the open-air localities and the cave sites could also be inferred, in which the hilly onset of the Carpathian Mountains is preferred for either high-frequentation or long-term occupation, whereas the lower and higher areas of the region were only occasionally visited leaving behind few and fragmented traces – a tendency that has also been observed elsewhere along the fringes of the Carpathian Basin.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 13/06/2016, 14:00 h – 14:45 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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