Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Late Pleistocene Hominin Adaptations in Greece

Paraskevi Elefanti and Gilbert Marshall


The aim of this paper is to take a region-wide look at variation in the distribution of Palaeolithic sites in Greece as a basis for tackling broader questions about hominin perception and use of landscapes and how this changed over time.  This research is founded on the results of the Prehistoric Stones of Greece project (SOG), which set out to collate and standardize information from field surveys and excavations and to present their results for others to use.  The focus of the project was chipped stone, in particular from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic (Elefanti et al. 2010).  The sources used include published and grey literature and we are very grateful to the large numbers of individuals and institutions who allowed us to access this primary information.  All of the data presented in this paper is based on our database, which can be accessed from the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York in the United Kingdom.

Greece is one of the most intensively surveyed locations anywhere, if not the most.  The use of field survey as a tool for locating sites and documenting landscapes took off in the late 1970s (Alcock and Cherry 2004).  The result was major growth in all types of surveys, mostly Bronze Age and Classical, but also those focusing on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic (Elefanti et al. forthcoming).  These followed on from a small number of influential projects begun in the 1960s, along the Pineios River in Thessaly (Milojic et al. 1965), Ellis in the Western Peloponnese (Chavaillon et al. 1969), Epirus and western Macedonia (Dakaris el al 1964) and the Ionian islands (Sordinas 1969).

In this paper, we focus on sites in which Palaeolithic material has been reported, comprising 471 of the total 720 sites so far in the SOG archive.  The remaining 249 have Mesolithic and/or Neolithic and later material.  Of these 471 sites, most (441) were identified during just 37 field survey projects.  All have reported chipped stone artefacts and in a small number of cases human skeletal remains, definitely or possibly attributed to the Palaeolithic.

   Klithi (Κλειδί) Rockshelter, Vikos Gorge, Northwest Greece
   Gravettian or Epi-Gravettian Backed Bladelet Industry

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