Middle Palaeolithic cultural levels from Middle and Late Pleistocene sediments of Biśnik Cave, Poland


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Quaternary International

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Biśnik Cave is situated in the limestone rock, 6 m above the bottom of the currently dry Wodąca valley. It is located in the Smoleń–Niegowonice Range, in the southern part of the Częstochowa Upland (Poland). The stratigraphic sequence, which encompasses middle and upper Pleistocene sediments, is unique in Central Europe. It enabled the reconstruction of changes occurring in the Middle Palaeolithic in the Polish Jura. Middle Palaeolithic cultural levels at the Biśnik Cave are discussed in the context of spatial analysis of the site's utility zones, with regard to hearths in particular phases of cave inhabitation. The results were linked with typological and use wear analysis of separate assemblages of artefacts. Microstratigraphic analysis revealed a far more complex character of settlement processes, especially with reference to older cultural horizons (A6-A5). Several sub-levels have been distinguished, phases of inhabitation in each layer. It was possible to indicate tendencies in the location of hearths in “cool” and “warm” layers, as well as point to a steady tendency of the shift of the site's utility space towards the entrance of the cave. The functions of particular zones of the site have been determined whenever possible, with the help of the results of traseological analysis. It was possible to characterise the technology and typology of assemblages found in particular layers and provide the description of their cultural character against the background of other Middle Palaeolithic sites in central-eastern Europe.

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