Bone industry from the Kapova cave and Franco-Cantabrian cave sites with Upper Paleolithic wall paintings 

Zhitenev V.S. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


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The article gives a review of the Upper Paleolithic objects made of solid organic materials, which were found in the Kapova Cave (Southern Urals, Russia) in different years of research. Formation of the cultural layers discovered in some parts of the cave dates back to the period between 13,900190 BP and 16,710800 BP. The essential point is almost complete absence of fossil remains of large and medium-sized classes of animals in the studied areas of Paleolithic mans activity in the cave. The bone industry is represented by several categories, such as an arrow, a knife, an awl, needles, a trowel-like tool, ornamented bones, and personal ornaments. These objects were mostly made of bone, including the bones of large rodents and fish. There are also articles made of ivory and mollusk shells. It should be noted as well that there are no traces of wastes of producing bone inventory (in contrast to the stone industry). The only exception is untreated fossil shells from Volga used as material for making personal ornaments. The data comparison shows similarity in the tool kit from the collections of the sites with wall paintings in Western Europe and the Southern Urals. The human activity in such caves was much more diverse than it is commonly supposed to be. The archaeological study of different points of distribution of cultural layers in the caves, as well as the findings on the floor of chambers and galleries, leave unanswered the question of synchronicity of material accumulation. Different types of bone tools which were found in different parts of the same cave suggest different specific and certain activities and events held in separate areas in order to develop underground cavities; whereas all the types of activities are likely to have single and essentially permanent general sense. In the Kapova Cave, as well as in other sites with wall paintings, the entire archeological ensemble, including the bone industry, gives evidence of the complex and diverse practices carried out in underground conditions. For the moment, the content and nature of these practices transcend our understanding.


Key words: Upper Paleolithic, bone industry, Kapova Cave, Altamira, Lascaux.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2016-33-2-005-015




V.S. Zhitenev

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Lomonosovsky Prospekt, 274, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation