25 February 2009

The Paleolithic of Turkish Thrace: PART 2- The Lower Paleolithic of the Bosphorus

This is a part from "The Paleolithic of Turkish Thrace: Synthesis and Recent Results".

The Lower Paleolithic of the Bosphorus
Important Lower Paleolithic sites, all dating to the Middle Pleistocene, in Thrace and the Balkans include Yarımburgaz (Turkey), Petralona (Greece), Gajtan (Albania) and Sandalja (Croatia) (A. DARLAS 1995). All Lower Paleolithic sites in the Balkans belong to a relatively late part of the period (C. RUNNELS 2003). Until our recent discoveries in the Tekirdağ area, the only Lower Paleolithic remains from western Turkish Thrace were some “suspicious” Paleolithic finds from the vicinities of Kırklareli and Edirne provinces (M. ÖZDOĞAN 1996). The lack of research in the region is the main explanation for the lack of Paleolithic sites west of the Terkos-Selimpaşa “boundary”. Even though the surveys done under the direction of M. Özdoğan were very intensive, some areas in Thrace were not covered (M. ÖZDOĞAN 2003 and C. RUNNELS-M. ÖZDOĞAN 2001).

The main periods of the Paleolithic are all represented on both sides of the Bosphorus (only the Later Upper Paleolithic is missing) (C. RUNNELS-M. ÖZDOĞAN 2001). The massive flake and chopper/chopping-tool industry of the Clatonian type found at Eskice Sırtı, probably represents the oldest occupation of the region, at least based on artifact typology. A few core tools found at Gümüşdere, on a high terrace of the Black Sea (M. ÖZDOĞAN 1985) and sites like Karababa and Davutpaşa (U. ESİN 1994) constituted our base of knowledge about Lower Paleolithic in the region before the excavation of Yarımburgaz Cave.

Excavations at Yarımburgaz Cave added specific data to surface finds. The Yarımburgaz industry is more closely related to assemblages from the Middle Pleistocene of Eastern and Central Europe than to lower Paleolithic assemblages from Anatolia or the Near East (G. ARSEBÜK 2003). The tools from Yarımburgaz seem primitive or expedient in their production, in that only what is needed is made (G. ARSEBÜK-M. ÖZBAŞARAN 1995). The industry is characterized mainly by retouched flake tools: core tools are very few in number (S. KUHN et al. 1996 and 1998). Specific raw materials were selected for specific types of tools and technological procedures (G. ARSEBÜK-M. ÖZBAŞARAN 2000). There are no bifacial tools (handaxes) or evidence of Levallois debitage in Yarımburgaz (G. ARSEBÜK 1998b).

The distribution of bifacial (handaxe) Lower Paleolithic assemblages in northwestern Turkey is problematic but important. Bifacial industries are very well represented in the Near East, the Levant and southeastern Anatolia (I. YALÇINKAYA et al. 1997) as well as in western Europe (H. TAŞKIRAN 1998). Recent excavations at Kaletepe in central Anatolia have also brought to light a Lower Paleolithic industry with bifaces and cleavers (L. SLIMAK et al. 2005). In northwestern Anatolia and the Balkans, however, bifacial artifacts are very rare (A. DARLAS 1995 and C. RUNNELS 2003). Some bifaces were found on the east side of the Bosphorus (A. J. JELINEK 1980 and M. ÖZDOĞAN 1986). But the Bosphorus did not constitute a permanent boundary to movement of human groups during the Pleistocene (B. DİNÇER 2001b).

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