Wood charcoal analysis at Klissoura Cave 1 (Prosymna, Peloponnese): the Upper Palaeolithic vegetation
Maria Ntinou Eurasian Prehistory 7:2 (2010): 47-69.
Excavations at Klissoura Cave 1 revealed a long chrono-cultural sequence of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic deposits. Wood charcoal samples from the Upper Palaeolithic layers and hearths were analyzed aiming to approach the late Middle Pleniglacial and Lateglacial vegetation of the area under study and to reveal aspects of the use of firewood by the inhabitants of the cave. The wood charcoal remains reflect the presence of a mosaic of vegetation types in the broader area around the cave during the Uluzzian, the Aurignacian and the Gravettoid dry, parkland vegetation with Prunus covered the rocky hills above the cave while open woodland with mesophilous and thermophilous trees spread at the foothills and the valley floor. These characteristics are attributed to the favourable conditions of the late MIS 3 interstadials between 39 and 27 kyrs BP. During the Lateglacial dry parkland predominated probably as a result of the decrease of the precipitation caused by the climatic extremes of the MIS 2. The wood charcoal remains from the hearths show that the open woodland with mesophilous taxa was a regular source for firewood provisioning probably because it extended at the foothills and the valley floor and was easily accessible. A multi-purpose function of the hearths, especially the Aurignacian clay-lined ones, is postulated. Embers might have been used for the transformation of raw materials, indirect cooking, heating and probably drying and curing.