Journal article Open Access
The article gives a complete, taking into account recent research, statistic of the lithic and faunal assemblages of Semenivka sites. Paper provides economic and cultural interpretation of sites in context of Epigravettian industry of the Middle Dnieper area.
The Upper Palaeolithic sites Semenivka 1, 2 and 3 (50° 14’ N,31° 34’ E) are situated 4 km east of Semenivka village (Baiyshivka district, Kiev oblast’) and 70 km southeast from the city of Kiev. Semenivka 1 can be identified as a transitory camp of very small group of hunters where a brown bear was killed or subjected to the initial phases of butchering. The meat of the latter probably was not processed for consumption as food, because no damaged bones and traces of fire were found. All represented lithics were intended for hunting, butchering, and some production or repair of tools from resistant organic material. The above-mentioned group perhaps included not more than 1-3 individuals, and their base camp was located a long distance from the kill-site. During their short visit, they also gathered from a nearby ravine bed the largest mammoth bones of previously killed or dead animals. The remains of at least four individuals, which were accumulated in a pile as fuel stock and building and raw materials for future use, were present. The group did not return promptly to the site, because both the remains of prey and stock of mammoth bones were abandoned.
The other sites of Semenivka 2 and 3 were seasonal base camps of a community of mammoth hunters corresponding to the number of inhabitants of single mammoth-bone house assemblage. However, some major tool categories are absent at Semenivka 2, and the total quantity of the latter is at least two or three times less than in a typical bone house assemblage. This perhaps was related to the absence of skin processing at the site, as well as a briefer episode of habitation. However, as was noted above, the similar diversity in the number and structure of the tools is very typical for all sites lacking bone structures. The expected quantity of lithics and tools at Semenivka 3 is very similar to that of a normal bone dwelling assemblage. The predominance of burins and large quantity of microliths with projectile impact fractures in the assemblages of Semenivka 2, and especially Semenivka 3, were related to the focus on hunting at these sites, which was particularly intense at the latter. On the other hand, the almost complete absence of scrapers in the assemblage at Semenivka 2 perhaps was connected with the exclusive presence of mammoth remains at that site. The character of both the faunal remains and tool assemblages at Semenivka 2 and 3 provide evidence for the hunting of mammoths. Younger animals were preferred. A similar predominance of younger animals is observed among the mammoth remains at open-air living places (fire-places, pits, manufacture-places etc.) surrounding bone houses. On the other hand, the pile of selected bones found at Semenivka 1 is also clear evidence of the gathering of mammoth bones.
The observed high diversity of tool assemblages at sites without mammoth dwelling structures was a result of more varied labor activities among Periglacial communities during the warm season. It was encouraged to a great extent by the better climatic conditions of the latter. A wider variety of topographic locations among these sites also is observed, sites with different labor specializations can be defined. On the other hand, the more stable recurring structure and quantity of tool assemblages at sites with bone houses (Mezhyrich, Do- branichivka, Gintsi etc.) was a consequence of the more narrowly constrained limits of human adaptation and labor activity during the cold season. They were much more rigidly determined by the bad climatic conditions of winter on the Periglacial steppe.
Technologically, industry of Semenivka sites was oriented on the producing of thin narrow blades, which were later selected for secondary treatment. This allows to technically comparing it with other sites of the Middle Dnieper area: Mezhyrich, Dobranichivka, Gintsi. Comparison of already analyzed group of artifacts with collections of different local variants of Ukrainian Upper Paleolithic can be the next step.
This article contains a part of materials which were presented by S. Pean, D.Yu. Nuzhnyi and P.S. Shydlovskyi on the International Scientific Conference “Human and Landscape : Geographical approach in the Prehistoric Archaeology” (February 3-5, 2016, Kyiv) (Pean, Nuzhnyi, Shydlovskyi 2016: 45). Research of Upper Palaeolithic assemblages from Middle Dnieper Region 2016-2017 held in the frames of the Hugo Obermaier Society for Quaternary Research & Archaeology of the Stone Age program “Raw material and technological traditions of Middle Dnieper river basin in Upper Paleolithic times” (O.M. Lyzun). Publications are partially based on the research provided by the grant support of the State Fund for Fundamental Research, project №077/38811.
Key words: Ukraine, The Middle Dnieper area, Upper Paleolithic, epigravettian, complex of Semenivka sites, lithic assemblage, technological analysis