The Cultural and Chronological Variability of the Epigravettian of the Middle Dnieper Basin

Keywords: Epigravettian, Mid Dnieper basin, typological variability, chronology, recolonization

Abstract

The cultural subdivision of the Mid Dnieper Epigravettian is based on the typological peculiarities of stone insets of projectile weapons from 22 stratified assemblages. The Mezhyrich, Mizyn, Yudinovo and Ovruch industries, as well as the number of assemblage’s types were defined (Nuzhnyi 2008). The insets of Mezhyrich industry are represented by lanceolate-backed points and rectangular microliths. Both were made on bladelets and micro-blades, sometimes by inverse and alternate retouch (Fig. 1: 1-18). The lanceolate points made on flakes, blades and bladelets by abrupt/semi-abrupt retouch and “atypical rectangles” produced on blades and bladelets are the characteristic feature of Yudinovo industry (Fig. 1: 19-33). The micro-points on bladelets and micro-blades with straight back and obliquely retouched/truncated base are common for Mizyn industry (Fig. 2, 1-18). The Ovruch industry is represented by backed lanceolate points made on blades and bladelets (Fig. 2: 19-26). Often, the bases of these points are obliquely retouched. The rectangles  are not common for Mizyn and Ovruch industries, as well as inverse and alternate types of retouch are rare in the assemblages of Yudinovo and Ovruch industries.

The chronological studies are based on 135 radiocarbon dates from 16 sites (Table 1; Fig. 3). The earliest manifestation of Epigravettian at the Mid Dnieper basin was found in Barmaky, 2 (19195-18743, av. 68 % range cal BP) in Volhynia; the latest appearance is known from Pushkari IX, 1 (13672-13066, av. 68 % range cal BP) at the Desna River. That is, at the territory of the Mid Dnieper basin the Epigravettian techno-complex stretches from 20/19 to 14/13 kyr cal BP. In general, the most number of occupations with Mizyn, Yudinovo and Mezhyrich Epigravettian industries assemblages co-exist during 18,5-17,0 kyr cal BP (Fig. 4). The radiocarbon dates for sites of Ovruch industry haven’t been available, yet.

On the base of typological studies and chronological data analysis the hypothesis about the Epigravettian evolution at the territory of the Mid Dnieper basin has been proposed. The evolution of local Gravettian industries was interrupted about the beginning of LGM time. The latest manifestations of Gravettian industries from the Desna River basin and from Volhynia are dated to about 28,4-24 and 33-30 kyr cal BP, respectively. That is, the Mid Dnieper basin was depopulated during as minimum as 5-6 thousands years, from 25/24 to 20/19 kyr cal BP. That time corresponds with LGM climatic deterioration. About 19 kyr cal BP the recolonization of this territory begins from the western part of the basin. The Mizyn and Ovruch industries show the number of common techno-typological features with Epigravettian assemblages from the Eastern Carpathian and the Prut/Dniester basins. The problem of Yudinovo and Mezhyrich industries origin is more complicated. Some technological features and shells import suggest possible connections with inhabitants from more southern territories of the steppe zone.

The proposed paper is a part of the studies conducted in the frames of the Archaeology Institute state projects and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant DFG-392605832 “Social networks and environmental conditions before, during and after Last Glacial Maximum in Volhynia, Western Ukraine”.

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2020-06-22
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