Multilayer Palaeolithic Korolevo site (Transcarpathia, Ukraine): Through Time, Cultural Traditions and Technologies

Vitalii Usik

Archaeological Museum, Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine


Abstract                                                                                                                            Video


When we talk about the Palaeolithic of Ukraine, we cannot miss the well-known multi-layered site of Korolevo I in Transcarpathia discovered by V.M. Gladilin in 1974. The site located on the right bank of the Tisa river on volcanic hills 100-120 m above the current river bed on the western edge of so-called “Khust gates” in the beginning of Transcarpathian valley.

A wide view of the Tisa river valley from the high elevation rich in volcanic raw material (andesite/hialodacite) and spring attracted humans to visit this place a period from a million to around 30,000 BP for settling, hunting, production of stone tools, etc.

In the loess sequence with a total thickness of 14 m, cultural layers of different age were found, belonging to different techno-complexes and cultures. The earliest layer VII found in the alluvial deposits (MIS 23-25) below the Brunhes–Matuyama boundary can be dated around one million years ago represent Lower Palaeolithic industry of Mode I characterized by simple unidirectional, parallel, Kombewa, unsystematic reduction and choppers in the tool-kit. Layer VI (MIS 13/15; around 500,000 BP) belongs to the same Mode I. At the same time, in the collection there is a good number of well-made side scrapers with steeped and scaled retouch and some specimens with bifacial treatment. In both industries used the production of blanks probably by influence of fire.

Industries of Layer Va (MIS 7/8; older than 200,000 BP) and Layer V (MIS 6; older than 130,000 BP) can be determined as Early Middle Palaeolithic. The collection of Layer Va includes a series of bifacial leaf-shaped points made by soft hammer from different raw material. The primary flaking of Layer V demonstrates different variants of reduction strategies (Kombewa, parallel, centripetal, convergent) including orientation on blade production. The toolkit included some Upper Palaeolithic tool-types: end scrapers and burins.

At the end of EEM (MIS 5a; 90 – 70,000 BP) at Korolevo site, the Classical centripetal Levallois industry appears. The time of MIS 4 (70 – 50,000 BP) is characterized by the presence of the following Middle Palaeolithic industries: Levallois oriented to produce short broad-based points, Micoquien, Charentian. The last industry of Layer Ia (MIS 3) of the Korolevo I sequence belongs to the Early Upper Palaeolithic. Additionally, at the same area (Korolevo II site) discovered transitional industry (layer II) with bifacial leaf shaped points, which can belong to so-called “szeletian culture”.

Korolevo as a key site allows us to discuss a wide range of Palaeolithic problems: chronology, initial settlement, variability of industries, Levallois strategy, differences in technology, use of one local raw material compare to imported, transition from the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic, etc.

Keywords: Palaeolithic, bifacial leaf-shaped points, raw material, technology