Keywords: Upper Paleolithic, Transcarpathia, stratigraphy, andesite, Epigravettian, backed pieces.


The article presents preliminary data of field studies of the Korolevo II Paleolithic site in Transcarpathia, concerning the clarification of stratigraphy and the chronology of the so-called layer 0 (Epigravettian) within the Upper Paleolithic of this site.

At this site, one of the earliest transitional industries from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic with bifacial leaf points was found on the territory of Ukraine (cultural layer II). At the Korolevo II site, there is also a small collection of Upper Paleolithic artifacts (layer 0) primary determined as belonging to the Epigravettian technocomplex. At the same time, it was assumed that these artifacts were in a secondary position. As a result of the analysis of archival materials, there were some doubts about the position of the layer 0 not in situ.

Korolevo II site is located on the northern outskirts of Veryatsa village of Vinogradiv district, Transcarpathian region, on the 20-meter terrace of the right bank of the Tisza River in the territory of the quarry approximal 500 m south-west from the Korolevo I site (fig. 1—3). The first Paleolithic artifacts at the location were collected in 1975. On a limited surface of the terrace 25—30 m wide from west to east, and approximately 35—40 m long from south to north, archeological investigations were carried out on three excavation areas (fig. 3). In the excavation II (12 m2) (1978, 1982), which was located on the northwestern slope of the terrace (fig. 3), the Middle and Upper Paleolithic artifacts were found in an unclear stratigraphic position.

In the excavation I, which was located along the eastern wall of the terrace (fig. 3, 4), the research was conducted in 1979—1980 on an area of 144 m2. In this excavation, the main cultural layer II was recorded in the Udai loess between two paleosoils (Vitachiv / Priluky) (fig. 5: Б) and received the date 38000 ± 1500 BP. Collection of cultural layer II represents the so-called transitional blade industry from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic with bifacial leaf-shaped points and some traces of Middle Paleolithic in primary flaking and tool-kit. Under cultural layer II in the upper part of Priluki horizon, there were marked Middle Paleolithic artifacts similar to the layer III (Levallois technocomplex) of Korolevo I site (OIS 5a). It should be stressed that a major part of Pleistocene deposits over layer II at excavation I where reduced by quarry work.

In test pit 5 (1982), later expanded as excavation III (1985), located between excavation I and excavation II three levels of stone finds were recorded. Based on the stratigraphical column of excavation I the sequence of archaeological layers in the excavation III was established as follows: layer II (first level), layer 0 (second level), layer II (third level) (table).

The belonging of the artifacts from the first and third levels to the industry of layer II was determined mainly on the basis of the review of local volcanic raw materials — andesite. The limited collection of second level artifacts produced exclusively on imported raw materials that included backed microliths (fig. 13) were typologically attributed to the Epigravettian. At that time, the impression was that the layer 0 was moved by the natural geological way in ancient time after in situ layer II (third level), and later, as a result of man-made processes, covered by the artifacts of layer II again (first level). It seemed that the stratigraphic sequence on the excavation III was artificially disturbed as well.

As a result of preliminary research data (2015—2017) at the excavation IIIa which covered distance around 5 m to the east to the area III (fig. 3), it became clear that stratigraphy on this site, with the exception of a small part of the cut off Holocene deposits, is not disturbed. Stratigraphic profile includes: 1.0—1.20 m — technogenic layer; 1.20—1.60 m — Bug climatolite (bg); 1.60—1.90 m — upper Vitachiv soil (vt3); 1.9—2.3 m — Udai climatolite (ud/vt2?); 2.3—2.5 m — the final stage of Pryluky soil formation (pl3); 2.5—3.0 m — paleosoil (pl1kd?).

On the basis of new excavation data and the analysis of the excavation III, it can be argued that there are five archaeological layers on this part of Korolevo II site: E, D, C, B, A (table).

The two lower layers E and D may correlate with the corresponding cultural layers III and II of the excavation area I. Layer D may correlate with the third level of excavation III respectively. Middle Paleolithic artifacts of the cultural layer III of excavation I and layer E of excavation III/IIIa can be dated to the end of the last interglacial (OIS 5a) and relate to the Levallois technocomplex.

The collection of layer D has indisputable features of affinity with the layer of II excavation I in the primary flaking and typology and belongs to the same transitional from MP to UP industry. Layer II and layer D are found in the same geological sediments — Udai climatolite (ud/vt2? / OIS 4/3?). The three upper layers (A, B, C) of the excavation IIIa have no analogues in the excavation I. The layer C is confidently fixed on the edge of the Vitychiv soil and the Udai climatolite (ud/vt2?) only in the excavation IIIa. The collection of layer C has the features of the Upper Paleolithic industry.

The collection of the cultural layer B in the studied excavation area IIIa is insignificant, but the position of the artifacts in the lower part of the Vitachev paleosoil is quite stable. These materials unambiguously correspond to artifacts of the second level of excavation III, including the so-called layer 0 and together represent one archeological unit — cultural layer B.

The layer A, which lies above the Vitachev paleosoil in Bug climatolite (bg) represents the Upper Palaeolithic industry still unknown in Transcarpathia. The layer A is traced both in the excavation IIIa and in the excavation III (first level). In this layer, a hearth with a tuff lining is found (fig. 6—8), which removes any questions about the signs of artifacts movement or its technogenic origin. In addition, there are no data allowing to associate the collection of layer A with cultural layer II of excavation I.

Finally, based on the above facts, we can return to the question of the time and status of «Epigravettian technocomplex» of layer 0. The available data indicates that the layer B, which includes its part as layer 0, is found in situ and from the point of its geological position (vt3) can represent the typical Gravettian industry. Typological features of the collection do not deny this conclusion. At least presence of backed pieces together with bifacial points as it marked in the layer B (fig. 13) is more characteristic for Gravettian razer than Epigravettian collections.

In common last excavations of Korolevo II open new perspective in investigations of Upper Paleolithic of the Transcarpathian region


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Usik, V. I., Kulakovska, L. V., Nigst, P., & Gerassimenko, N. P. (2019). KOROLEVO II: TO THE QUESTION OF THE EPIGRAVETTIAN TECHNOCOMPLEX (LAYER 0) AND THE CULTURAL-STRATIGRAPHIC SEQUENCE OF THE SITE. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 32(3), 18-36. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2019.03.02