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Stratum Plus. 2003-2004. №1

Yu. E. Demidenko, D. Yy. Nuzhnyi (Kiev, Ukraine)

Upper Palaeolithic Problems in the North Black Sea Region and I.V. Sapozhnikov’s Book “Bolshaya Akkarzha. Upper Palaeolithic Economy and Culture of the Ukrainian Steppe”

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Pages: 507-523


The reviewed book is dedicated to presentation of Epigravettian site Bolshaya Akkarzha with its data then used for both broad palaeoeconomic reconstructions and creation of general chronological Upper Palaeolithic scheme of so-called steppe zone of southern Ukraine. However, the site’s stratigraphy and preservation of its cultural layer with its characteristic finds do not correspond to the announced bold aims. The flint assemblage formed by mainly Epigravettian artifacts is also clearly mixed with finds of two versions of Epi-Aurignacian (Krems-Dufour and Zelenyi Khutor-Klimautsy types), Early Mesolithic (Belolesie type with segments) and Late Mesolithic – Neolithic (Kukrek and Grebeniki cultures) industries. Seriously destroyed and undated by radiocarbon method, the site’s cultural layer (that according to pollen analysis was supposed to be formed in a sufficiently cold and dry time period of Last Glacial Maximum – 19 – 18 Kyr BP) also contained abundant Helix sp. snails – species of true warm and humid climatic conditions. The author’s hypothesis about this special gathering of snails and a number of dwelling reconstructions (e.g. with wooden pillars and pise buildings of sub-square form) as if practiced by Upper Palaeolithic population of Periglacial steppes are rather too exotic to reveal any Palaeolithic reality. As a result of active usage of mixed, undated and not stratified sites for Upper Palaeolithic industrial definitions, I.V. Sapozhnikov has also introduced some very strange and syncretic sorts of industries – e.g. “Gravettoid Epiaurignacian” and “Aurignacoid Epigravettian”. Our review discusses the subjects proposed by I.V. Sapozhnikov, with their relation to actual Upper Paleolithic problems of Southern Ukraine, Moldova and Russia.


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