Aligned in loess: Geoarchaeological results from Upper Palaeolithic open-air sites of Western Romania and correlation approach to adjacent areas

Holger Kels1, Jens Protze1, Ulrich Hambach2, Nicole Klasen3, Valéry Sitlivy4, Mircea Anghelinu5, Frank Lehmkuhl1
1 Chair of Physical Geography and Geoecology, RWTH Aachen University
2 Chair of Geomorphology, University of Bayreuth
3 Institute of Geography, University of Cologne
4 Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne
5 Department of History and Letters, Faculty of Humanities, Valahia University of Târgovişte

V 4.4 in Steinzeitlicher Mensch und Umweltwandel - zur Archäologie von Umweltrisiken

18.09.2012, 09:30-09:50, H8

In the frame of the fieldworks of our CRC 806 ”Our Way to Europe”, we studied Upper Palaeolithic open-air sites and additional loess sections from the Banat, Western Romania.
For the dispersal of Anatomically Modern Humans, this region plays an important role, as from here the so far oldest modern human bone findings of Eastern Europe were discovered at Peştera cu Oase, dated to 38.4-42.5 kya cal. BP (Zilhão et al. 2007).
Focused on the last Middle Pleniglacial and on the cultural period of the Aurignacian, we re-excavated open-air sites from Coşava, Româneşti and Tincova (e.g. Mogoşanu 1978). All sites are situated at the transition zone of the eastern part of the Pannonian Basin towards the Carpathian Mountains in loesses and loess-like sediments, which are poorly studied in the region up to now. Therefore, sedimentological and geochemical studies based on improved methods were necessary. Apart from Upper Palaeolithic open-air sites we studied further loess sections towards the west in the Banat lowland, where on the one hand, the loess cover is getting thicker and on the other hand a change in the characteristics of the palaeosols, reflecting changes of precipitation, temperature and vegetation becomes obvious.
By combining different, methodically improved procedures in analytics (e.g. grain size measurements, multi element analysis, rock magnetics, CNS, AMS- and OSL-Dating we established a dataset which shows sedimentological and pedogenic evolution for specific positions in the region. The differences along a catena reflect local conditions with own climatic and vegetation background. It seems as if the settlements of the Early Upper Palaeolithic hunter and gatherers are concentrated on the Banat hillside.
This preference could be steered by various natural factors, whereas a different vegetation pattern – compared to the dryer steppic lowland – could be one of the main reasons beneath access to raw materials, springs and hunting grounds.
In comparison to other Aurignacian open air sites of Easter Europe, the choice of very similar morphological positions became obvious. Even the sediment cover of these archives shows an evident site formation process. In most cases the archaeological layers are embedded in reworked loess deposits. This circumstance hindered a direct correlation to well-developed primary loess sections in this region, e.g. to those from the Vojvodina (Marković et al. 2008). The multi-proxy approach of sedimentology and geochemistry allows, in dependence of the local geomorphological situation, a distinction of process-related and palaeoclimatic effects. By that, correlations between primary and secondary loess archives will be much more improved for the future.



Marković, S. B., Bokhorst, M. P., Vandenberghe, J., McCoy, W. D., Oches, E. A., Hambach, U., Gaudenyi, T., Jovanovi, M., Zöller, L., Stevens, T. & Machalett, B. (2008): Late Pleistocene loess-palaeosol sequences in the Vojvodina region, north Serbia. - J. Quat. Sci., 23 (1): 73-84.

Mogoşanu, F. (1978): Paleoliticul din Banat. Cu un studiu paleoclimatic si geocronologic. - Academia de stiinte sociale si politice a republich socialiste Romania. Institutul de arheologie, Bucuresti, bibliotheca de arheologie, XXXII: 152 p.; Bucureşti.

Zilhão J., Trinkaus, E., Constantin, S., Milota, Ş., Gherase, M., Sarcina, L., Danciu, A., Rougier, H., Quilès, J. & Rodrigo, R. (2007): The Peştera cu Oase people, Europe’s earliest modern humans. - In: Mellars, P., Boyle, K., Bar-Yosef, O. & Stringer, C. [eds.]: Rethinking the Human Revolution, p. 249-262; Cambridge.

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Letzte Änderung 13.07.2012