The Palaeolithic record of Greece: A synthesis of the evidence and a research agenda for the future
Vangelis Tourloukis & Katerina Harvati Quaternary International 466.A (2018): 48-65
The Palaeolithic record of Greece remains highly fragmented and discontinuous in both space and time. Nevertheless, new surveys and excavations, along with the revisiting of known sites or old collections, and the conduction of lithic and faunal laboratory analyses, have altogether enriched the Greek Palaeolithic dataset with important new evidence and novel interpretations. The goal of this paper is threefold: 1) to critically review the most important aspects of the Greek Pleistocene archaeological record, from the Lower to the Upper Palaeolithic; 2) to provide a synthesis of current knowledge about the Palaeolithic of Greece and in the framework of broader discussions in human evolution research; and 3) to put in prospect the Greek record by addressing a research agenda for the future. The review of the evidence shows that Palaeolithic research in Greece has expanded its focus not only geographically but also temporally: it now includes investigations at previously under-studied areas, such as the insular settings of the Aegean and Ionian Seas, as well as formerly overlooked targets, such as Lower Palaeolithic open-air sites. The synthesis and discussion which follows offers a state-of-the-art perspective on how the primary Palaeolithic data can be assessed within local or regional geomorphic, paleoenvironmental and chronological contexts; here, our focus is on spatio-temporal discontinuities, trends in subsistence strategies and lithic technology, as well as potentially emerging biogeographical patterns. Finally, we highlight the complex topography and mosaic landscapes of the Greek peninsula in order to address two major themes for a future research agenda: the potential role of Greece as a glacial refugium, and how the Greek record could contribute to our knowledge of early hominin mobility patterns.