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See detailModalités d’acquisition et d'exploitation de la faune par les groupes humains durant le Pléniglaciaire supérieur en Europe orientale
Demay, Laëtitia ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Anatomically modern human groups have been established within a major part of the European continent during the Upper Palaeolithic. Major climatic variations took place during the Upper Pleniglacial (26 ... [more ▼]

Anatomically modern human groups have been established within a major part of the European continent during the Upper Palaeolithic. Major climatic variations took place during the Upper Pleniglacial (26 000 to 10 000 BP). They may have influenced settlements of the territories and modalities of adaptation of the human groups. Gravettian culture was developed between about 30,000 and 21,000 BP. While in Western Europe succeeded the Solutrean and then the Magdalenian traditions, in part of Central, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe some of gravettian characters has persisted through the Epigravetian traditions until the end of the Pleistocene (12,000-10,000 BP). Within the great plain of Eastern Europe, these two great techno-cultural complexes are characterized by numerous facies, the understanding of which is still incomplete. We can retrace the human economic and cultural way of life through their interactions with animals. Data were obtained from the zooarchaeological study of the animal bones in Ukrainian and Russian Paleolithic sites. This method includes paleontological and eco-ethological analysis of species, taphonomic and palethnographic agents. We highlighted that new techniques were developed which demonstrates important hunting activities, an unexpected variety of behaviors) and regional specificities. A critical synthesis was combined to these analyzes, taking in account data about fauna from the main archaeological sites of the Upper Pleniglacial in relation to other factors of variability: types of encampments, site functions, raw materials, cultural traditions . These regional and chronological comparisons make it possible to highlight the evolution of human behavior and the place of different animal species within societies. [less ▲]

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See detailZooarchaeological study of an Upper Palaeolithic site with mammoth remains, Pushkari Ieexcavation VII (Chernigov oblast, Ukraine)
Demay, Laëtitia ULg; Péan, Stéphane; Belyaeva, Valentina I. et al

in Quaternary International (2016)

The Pushkari archaeological complex is one of the few sites which shows human occupations related to the first part of the Upper Pleniglacial. Pushkari I furnished rich archaeological material. Study of ... [more ▼]

The Pushkari archaeological complex is one of the few sites which shows human occupations related to the first part of the Upper Pleniglacial. Pushkari I furnished rich archaeological material. Study of the lithic industry identified a facies of Gravettian with epigravettian features, called Pushkarian. In order to figure out acquisition and treatment modalities of large mammals, and to test the hypothesis of the use of woolly mammoth as a source of food and building material, we conducted a zooarchaeological study of the faunal remains from excavation VII of Pushkari I. The faunal spectrum is made of Mammuthus primigenius, the predominant species, Equus sp., R. tarandus, Canis lupus and Vulpes vulpes/Alopex lagopus. Taphonomic study suggests that some bone remains of mammoth lay in open-air for a long time before they were buried while bones of carnivores and other bones of mammoth were quickly buried. All the assemblage was affected by acid sandy deposits. Phenomena of freeze-thaw action were observed, but the archaeological layer was little disturbed. Mammoths came regularly on the promontory. The skeletal preservation shows that they died there. The mortality profile with a majority of adults combined with a palethnographic interpretation suggests that they were slaughtered and butchered by human groups. Tusks were stored. The spatial distribution indicates a campsite, which corresponds to recurrent short-termed occupations on the promontory by human groups. This site is a strategic place to collect flint to make weapons, to find dry mammoth bones, and to hunt and butcher mammoths. This study provides new data to understand the particular status of the woolly mammoth for the Upper Pleniglacial human groups in the Russo-Ukrainian plain. [less ▲]

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See detailZooarchaeology of the layers from Dorochivtsy III (Ukraine)
Demay, Laëtitia ULg; Patou-Mathis, Marylène; Koulakovska, Larissa

in Quaternary International (2015)

Palaeolithic archaeological sites of the Western Ukraine are clustered along the Prut and Dniester Rivers. Different sites provided data enabling reconstruction of the paleoenvironment, chronology and ... [more ▼]

Palaeolithic archaeological sites of the Western Ukraine are clustered along the Prut and Dniester Rivers. Different sites provided data enabling reconstruction of the paleoenvironment, chronology and cultures of human group during the Upper Paleolithic (notably Molodova V). During the second part of the Pleniglacial, between 23 000 and 20 000 years BP, palaeoclimatic variations took place. The intensification of cold and arid conditions is liable to force human groups to adapt to a changing environment. Little is known about this period, with only a few assemblages. Ongoing excavations continue to provide new data. The archaeological site of Dorochivtsy III has an important sequence stratigraphy with several archaeological layers. Among the seven Upper Palaeolithic layers, layers 6, 5, 4 and 3 testify to activities of a human group during the Upper Pleniglacial. We studied the faunal assemblages applying zooarchaeological methods, identifying mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), horse (Equus sp.) and fox (Alopex lagopus/Vulpes vulpes). The Gravettian layers 3, 4, 5 have anthropogenic clues in connection with subsistence activities oriented on reindeer, then horses, and finally fox. Concerning mammoths, we cannot define the modes of acquisition and use. These occupations have been interpreted as recurrent hunting occupations linked to procurement of local flint and lithic production for butchering activities. Layer 6 dated to 22 330 ± 100 BP is remarkable because of previously unseen practises. The lithic assemblage combined with bone industry and engraved tusk is a novel set of cultural elements in this area, called ancient Epigravettian. This layer testifies to the diversity of human activities during the Upper Pleniglacial and to the particular status of mammoth ivory as an artistic medium. Palynological data and taphonomic observations on bones indicate the persistence of relatively moist conditions during some periods, which could favour the movement of human groups. Although little is known about the Upper Pleniglacial period, Dorochivtsy III testifies to the continuity of a large exploitation of the territory of the Dniester valley. [less ▲]

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See detailMammoths used as food and building resources by Neanderthals: Zooarchaeological study applied to layer 4, Molodova I (Ukraine)
Demay, Laëtitia ULg; Péan, Stéphane; Patou-Mathis, Marylène

in Quaternary International (2012, October 25), 276-277(25 October 2012), 212-226

Considering Neanderthal subsistence, the use of mammoth resources has been particularly discussed. Apart from procurement for food, the use of mammoth bones as building material has been proposed. The ... [more ▼]

Considering Neanderthal subsistence, the use of mammoth resources has been particularly discussed. Apart from procurement for food, the use of mammoth bones as building material has been proposed. The hypothesis was based on the discovery made in Molodova I, Ukraine (Dniester valley). In this large multistratified open-air site, a rich Mousterian layer was excavated. Dated to the Inter-Pleniglacial (MIS 3), it has yielded 40 000 lithic remains associated with ca. 3000 mammal bones, mostly from mammoth. Several areas have been excavated: a pit filled with bones, different areas of activities (butchering, tool production), twenty-five hearths and a circular accumulation made of mammoth bones, described as a dwelling structure set up by Neanderthals. Attested dwelling structures made of mammoth bones are known in Upper Paleolithic sites, from Ukraine and Russia, attributed to the Epigravettian tradition. This paper presents a zooarchaeological study of large mammal remains from Molodova I layer 4, to understand the modalities of acquisition and utilization of mammoth resources for food and technical purposes, especially to test the hypothesis of using bones as building elements. The number of mammoths is estimated to at least fifteen individuals of all age classes and both sexes, which died during several episodes, near or on the site. The taphonomic modifications due to weathering, water percolation and plant roots indicate the location of bones in holes, such as the pit and the basement of the circular accumulation. Secondary actions of carnivores, especially of hyaenid type, are rare on bones, showing that the assemblage was not accumulated by these predators. The anatomical preservation, the age and sex features and the taphonomic data indicate several modalities of mammoth acquisition by hunting, scavenging and collecting. Based on anthropogenic marks, mammoth meat has been eaten. The presence of series of striations and ochre on mammoth bones are associated with a technical or symbolic use. Furthermore, mammoth bones have been deliberately selected (long and flat bones, tusks, connected vertebrae) and circularly arranged. This mammoth bone structure could be described as the basement of a wooden cover or as a wind-screen. The inner presence of fifteen hearths, lithic artifacts and waste of mammal butchery and cooking is characteristic of a domestic area, which was probably the centre of a residential camp recurrently settled. It appears that Neanderthals were the oldest known humans who used mammoth bones to build a dwelling structure. [less ▲]

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