Hearths and plant uses during the Upper Palaeolithic period at Klissoura Cave 1 (Greece): the results from phytolith analyses
Rosa Maria Albert Eurasian Prehistory 7:2 (2010): 71-85.
The excavations of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic layers at Klissoura Cave 1 (Peloponnese, Greece), facilitated the investigations of phytolith samples from sediments and hearths dated to the Upper Palaeolithic period. The study resulted in the reconstruction of the palaeo-landscape, the vegetation as well as the use of fire by the inhabitants of the cave. Phytoliths were abundantly identified in most of the sediment samples in relatively good preservation, especially in the uppermost layers. In contrast, phytoliths were practically absent from hearths. The dominant family identified in the course of laboratory analyses are the grasses. Moreover, their good preservation in the sediment samples permitted us to differentiate between various depositional events, due either to environmental changes and/or diverse economic activities. The relatively dry conditions in the cave during the deposition of the Upper Palaeolithic layers proved to be suitable for the preservation of the phytoliths allowing the preservation of certain fragile morphological types such as papillae cells or sedge phytoliths. Noteworthy is the presence of phytoliths from the inflorescence of grasses in some of the layers as well as the identification of sedges that points to the potential use of these plants for dietary purposes during the Aurignacian. Wood was probably the main fuel used for fires accompanied by the constant presence of grasses.