Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


11 April 2012

Klissoura Cave 1 and the Upper Paleolithic of Southern Greece in cultural and ecological context

Mary C. Stiner, Janusz K. Kozlowski, Steven L. Kuhn, Panagiotis Karkanas and Margarita Koumouzelis Eurasian Prehistory 7:2 (2010): 309-321.


Klissoura Cave 1 preserves a long series of Middle Paleolithic, Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultural layers, interrupted by at least three significant erosional hiatuses. The sedimentary features, artifacts and animal remains of the Upper Paleolithic though Mesolithic layers testify a wide range of on-site activities, with complex cycles of feature construction and abandonment. The industry of Layer V closely resembles Uluzzian assemblages from southern Italy. Its age remains uncertain but almost certainly exceeds 39 kyrs BP. The most intense use of the site occurred during the formation of Aurignacian layers IV and IIIe-g, distinguished by many superimposed plain and clay-lined hearths, and in Layer IV, the remnants of a small structure enveloping a dense concentration of perforated shell beads. Fire places were fed mainly with dicotyledonous wood and bark-producing plants, whereas grass remains are concentrated in other parts of the occupied area. Post-dating the Aurignacian are two non-Aurignacian layers, followed by an ephemeral Epipaleolithic occupation and substantial Mesolithic occupations. The botanical, faunal and geological data identify a gradual trend toward climatic cooling through the Upper Paleolithic sequence. Warmer, wetter conditions returned only well after MIS 2, during the Mesolithic. Faunal data indicate opportunistic hunting of a variety of ungulate species, but mainly fallow deer, one or a few animals at a time. The patterns of small game exploitation reveal a trend of increasing dietary breadth that began in the early Upper Paleolithic and involved progressively greater use of animals such as hares and/or birds with time. Land snail exploitation became important in the later Upper Paleolithic phases and peaked in the Mesolithic. Perforated shell ornaments are present in the Uluzzian layer (V) and in all subsequent layers. The ornaments consist almost exclusively of finished products, worn from use and lacking evidence of production debris.


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