Between East and West. Social Networks and Environmental Conditions before, during and after the Last Glacial Maximum in Volhynia (Western Ukraine)
PI: Prof. Dr. Andreas Maier
The project aims at a better understanding of the development of large-scale social networks of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers around the time of the severest population bottleneck since the arrival of Homo sapiens sapiens in Europe. Archaeological findings show the existence of long-distance communication networks during the early Gravettian (ca. 34-29.000 calBP), reaching from the Atlantic up to the Don river. During the later Gravettian (ca. 29-24.000 calBP) however, a continued climatic deterioration led to a marked population decline and a breakdown of those networks along with a pronounced regionalization of the remaining parts of the population. Beginning with the climatically cool but stable Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 24-19.000 calBP) a consolidation of the European population and the renewed formation of long-distance networks started, which became intensified during the following time. The chronological and chorological details of this development remain unclear. The region of Volhynia in western Ukraine is a key-region for a better understanding of the processes in question. First, the region is located at the junction between two larger settlement areas in Western and Central Europe on the one hand and Eastern Europe on the other. Second, the numerous known open-air sites, dating to the period in question, often with excellent preservation of organic remains and ample loess stratigraphies, provide a promising archive for an interdisciplinary study with closely intertwined geo-scientific, archaeozoological, palynological and archaeological on-site analyses. Moreover, the known outcrops of lithic raw materials and fossil mollusk shells are particularly suited to gain insights into the changing network structures by comparisons with neighboring regions.