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Stratum Plus. 2003-2004. №1

N. K. Anisyutkin (St.-Petersburg, Russia)

Mammoth in the Middle Paleolithic of East Europe (on the problem of Mousterian living structures and the use of mammoth bones)

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Pages: 114-129

This article is dedicated to an important problem of dwelling structures containing numerous bones of mammoth. Such dwellings have been discovered only in one region of the Old World, which is situated in the South-West of the Russian Plain – the Dniester and Prut. We present here an analysis of all the sites now known, including those excavated by the author in 1974-1979 in the middle Dniester region (the Mousterian site of Ketrosy).
On the basis of materials from the four sites discussed (Molodova 1 and 5, Ketrosy, Ripiceni-Izvor), where remains of structures built with the use of mammoth bones and large stones have been discovered, we arrived at a number of important conclusions, of which the major are: 1) all the dwellings under discussion were occupied during a summer-autumn season and did not include any dwellings of duration or of a complicated construction; 2) most of the structures should be considered as typical wind shelters adapted for the rough conditions of near-glacial Europe; 3) contrary to a widespread opinion, most of the mammoth bones found were not products of hunting, but had been gathered in river shoals; 4) the absence of similar Mousterian sites elsewhere in Eurasia proves the unique character of this phenomenon (the special choice of large mammoth bones and tusks for construction of the dwellings, keeping in mind the abundance of stones fit for the same purpose). This choice was possibly a cultural one, indicative of a special role of this large mammal in the life of Mousterian people in the region of Europe discussed.


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