Before Farming

Dietary changes during the Upper Palaeolithic at Klissoura Cave 1 (Prosymni), Peloponnese, Greece

Before Farming (2009), 2009, (3), 1–14.

Abstract

Faunal evidence from Klissoura Cave 1 (Prosymni) in Peloponnese, Greece, indicates that dietary shifts occurred during the Upper Palaeolithic to accommodate increased human hunting pressures as well as environmental changes. Foraging intensification is examined based on changes in prey species composition, body part analysis and carcass processing patterns. Fallow deer was the primary large game species exploited at Klissoura 1, though a somewhat more even representation of several ungulate species is apparent in the earliest Aurignacian and again in the Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic. The variation in ungulate species representation was conditioned foremost by changes in local vegetation communities. Small game was also important throughout the sequence. High-ranked, slow-moving small game animals such as tortoises were exploited more in the Early Upper Palaeolithic than in later time periods. Lower-ranked, fast-moving hares were collected throughout the Upper Palaeolithic, but increased in importance starting in the late Aurignacian. The frequency of birds, also small, fast, low-ranking prey types, fluctuates with time, but their importance in Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic diets follows the growth and decline of open grasslands in the area. Quantitative tests of density-mediated attrition indicate that non-human destructive processes were not a significant factor at Klissoura 1. Fallow deer body part profiles are fairly even, indicating that the carcasses were transported to the site largely complete, except for the vertebral column in some cases. Many components of the UP fauna at Klissoura 1 are similar to trends found elsewhere in the Mediterranean, in particular the shift in small game exploitation. Other observations, such as changing proportions of large game species and fluctuations in the frequency of avian fauna likely represent local environmental shifts in southern Greece during the Late Pleistocene.

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Starkovich, Britt