October 12, 2005

Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic around the Mediterranean

A new article in L' Anthropologie reviews much of the archaeological evidence about the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic in the Mediterranean basin.

L' Anthropologie (Article in press)

The Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic around the Mediterranean: cultural framework

Janusz K. Kozlowski


The origin of the Upper Palaeolithic around the Mediterranean was the result of the local evolution, particularly in the Near East and in the Lower Nile basin, and of the migration from this zone to South-Eastern and Central Europe. The Initial Upper Palaeolithic in the Near East belt was the effect of local evolution from the industries based on Levallois concept to the industries which developed leptolithic blade technologies. This evolution is well registered in multi-layer sites in the Syro-Palestinian belt (Emirian/Ahmarian), which was the starting point of the diffusion of these “transitional” industries in South-Eastern and Central Europe. This diffusion could be identified with the migration of first anatomically Modern Humans. The Early Upper Palaeolithic in Europe — dated to the second half of the Interpleniglacial — was, at least partially, based on these “transitional” industries and manifested by the appearance of the Aurignacian, contrasted with local cultures such as the Uluzzian in Mediterranean Europe. During whole the Interpleniglacial Europe was separated from Northern Africa dominated by local evolution of Middle Palaeolithic (Middle Stone Age) cultures (mostly expressed by the Aterian), and by specific “transitional” industries on the southern Mediterranean coast (Early Dabbian) and in the Lower Nile basin. The Last Glacial Maximum and the corresponding sea level recession opened new possibilities of contacts between the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula in both directions (Aterian-Solutrean and Gravettian-Early Iberomaurusian), which are still difficult to be proved before new chronostratigraphic correlations are made. At the same time we register links between south-eastern Europe and western Anatolia; the real border between Near Eastern and European Mediterranean cultural zones was marked, in the Late Glacial, by the Taurus chain. During the Late Glacial the cultural separation between Europe and Africa was particularly marked. Only in the Aegean basin the first sea navigation facilitated contacts which become widespread as late as in the Early Holocene with neolithization trough maritime contacts.


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