In archaeology, the Epipalaeolithic or Epipaleolithic (sometimes Epi-paleolithic etc.) is a term for a period intervening between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic in the Stone Age. This position is also occupied by the Mesolithic and the two are sometimes confused, or used as synonyms. More often they are used for different areas: Epipaleolithic for the Levant (Middle East near the Mediterranean coast), and the Near East in general, as well as sometimes parts of Europe other than North and Western Europe, where Mesolithic is much more often used. A Mesolithic period is not usually recognized for the Levant or Near East; in Europe a period categorized as Epipalaeolithic is followed by a Mesolithic one in the same area, and will itself be described as Mesolithic by many archaeologists.

The Epipalaeolithic has been defined as the "final Upper Palaeolithic industries occurring at the end of the final glaciation which appear to merge technologically into the Mesolithic".[1] The period is generally dated from c. 20,000 BP to 10,000 BP in the Levant,[2] but later in Europe. If used as a synonym or equivalent for Mesolithic in Europe, it might end at about c. 5,000 BP or even later.

In the Levant the period may be subdivided into Early, Middle and Late Epipaleolithic, the last also being the Natufian.[3] The preceding final Upper Paleolithic period is the Kebaran or "Upper Paleolithic Stage VI".[4]

Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers, generally nomadic, made relatively advanced tools from small flint or obsidian blades, known as microliths, that were hafted in wooden implements. There are settlements with "flimsy structures", probably not permanently occupied except at some rich sites, but used and returned to seasonally.[5]

Pointe 228.2 La Tourasse (3)
Different views of an "Azilian point" microlith from Epipaleolithic southern France (in this case), also northern Spain.
Neve David excavation- gazelle horn exposed
Gazelle horn exposed at Neve David on Mount Carmel, Israel

Term usage

In describing the period before the start of the Neolithic, "Epipaleolithic" is typically used for cultures in regions that were far from the glaciers of the Ice Age, so that the retreat of the glaciers made a less dramatic change to conditions. This was the case in the Levant.[6] Conversely, the term "Mesolithic" is most likely to be used for Western Europe where climatic change and the extinction of the megafauna had a great impact of the paleolithic populations at the end of the Ice Age, creating post-glacial cultures such as the Azilian, Sauveterrian, Tardenoisian, and Maglemosian.[7] In the past, French archaeologists had a general tendency to prefer the term "Epipaleolithic" to "Mesolithic", even for Western Europe. Where "Epipaleolithic" is still used for Europe, it is generally for areas close to the Mediterranean, as with the Azilian industry.

"Epipalaeolithic" stresses the continuity with the Upper Paleolithic. Alfonso Moure says in this respect:

In the language of Prehistorical Archaeology, the most extended trend is to use the term "Epipaleolithic" for the industrial complexes of the post-glacial hunter-gatherer groups. Inversely, those that are in transitional ways towards artificial production of food are inscribed in the "Mesolithic".[8]

In Europe, the Epipalaeolithic may be regarded as a period preceding the Early Mesolithic,[9] or as locally constituting at least a part of it. Other authors treat the Epipalaeolithic as part of the Late Palaeolithic;[10] the culture in southern Portugal between about 10,500 to 8,500 years ago is "variously labelled as 'Terminal Magdalenian' and 'Epipalaeolithic'".[11] The different usages often reflect the degree of innovation and "economic intensification in the direction of domestication, sedentism or environmental modification" seen in the culture. If the Palaeolithic way of life continues with only adaptation to reflect changes in the types of wild food available, the culture may be called Epipalaeolithic.[12] One writer, talking of Azilian microliths in Vasco-Cantabria has "some exceptions that seem to herald the coming of 'true' Mesolithic technologies a few centuries later".[13]

History of the term

The concept of the "Epipalaeolithic" arrived several decades after the main components of the three-age system, the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. It was first proposed in 1910 by the Swedish archaeologist, Knut Stjerna, his initial example being a culture or sub-culture in Scandinavian archaeology,[14] that would not be often called Epipalaeolithic today. This left stone-lined pit graves containing implements of bone, such as harpoon and javelin heads. Stjerna observed that they "persisted during the recent Paleolithic period and also during the Protoneolithic". Here he had used a new term, "Protoneolithic", which was according to him to be applied to the Danish kitchen-middens.[15] Stjerna also said that the eastern culture "is attached to the Paleolithic civilization" ("se trouve rattachée à la civilisation paléolithique"). However, it was not intermediary and of its intermediates he said "we cannot discuss them here" ("nous ne pouvons pas examiner ici"). This "attached" and non-transitional culture he chose to call the Epipaleolithic, defining it as follows:[16]

With Epipaleolithic I mean the period during the early days that followed the age of the reindeer, the one that retained Paleolithic customs. This period has two stages in Scandinavia, that of Maglemose and that of Kunda. (Par époque épipaléolithique j'entends la période qui, pendant les premiers temps qui ont suivi l'âge du Renne, conserve les coutumes paléolithiques. Cette période présente deux étapes en Scandinavie, celle de Maglemose et de Kunda.)

Stjerna made no mention of the Mesolithic, and it is unclear if he intended his terms to replace that. His new terms were soon adopted by the German Hugo Obermaier, who in 1916 used them in El Hombre fósil (translated into English in 1924) as part of an attack on the concept of the Mesolithic, which he insisted was a period of "transition" and an "interim" rather than "transformation":[17]

But in my opinion this term is not justified, as it would be if these phases presented a natural evolutionary development – a progressive transformation from Paleolithic to Neolithic. In reality, the final phase of the Capsian, the Tardenoisian, the Azilian and the northern Maglemose industries are the posthumous descendants of the Palaeolithic ...

This early history of the term introduced the ambiguity and degree of confusion which has continued to surround its use, as least as relates to the archaeology of Europe.


  1. ^ Bahn, Paul, The Penguin Archaeology Guide, Penguin, London, p. 141. ISBN 0140514481
  2. ^ Simmons, 46
  3. ^ Simmons, 47–48
  4. ^ Simmons, 47–48
  5. ^ Simmons, 48–49
  6. ^ Simmons, 46–48; agriculture, origins of. (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 10, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  7. ^ "History of Europe". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 8 April 2013. The Scandinavian Ice Sheet itself started to retreat northward about 8300 bce, and the period between then and the origins of agriculture (at various times in the 7th to 4th millennia, depending on location) was one of great environmental and cultural change. It is termed the Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age) to emphasize its transitional importance, but the alternative term Epipaleolithic, used mostly in eastern Europe, stresses the continuity with processes begun earlier.
  8. ^ A. Moure El Origen del Hombre, 1999. ISBN 8476791275
  9. ^ "...there are no sites defining the transition from the Epipalaeolithic Azilian to the Early Mesolithic" – p. 249, Thomas, Homer L., A Handbook of Archaeology: Cultures and Sites: North Africa, Egypt, Southwest Asia, Mediterranean, Northwest Europe, Northern Europe, ..., Volume 1, 1996, Paul Astroms Forlag, ISBN 9170811229, 978-9170811227
  10. ^ referring to the Azilian: Jones, Emily Lena, In Search of the Broad Spectrum Revolution in Paleolithic Southwest Europe, pp. 5–6, 2015, Springer, ISBN 3319223518, 978-3319223513, google books
  11. ^ Straus, Lawrence Guy, p. 310 in Bailey and Spikins
  12. ^ Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory (2nd Edition), eds. Eric Delson, Ian Tattersall, et al., p. 236. 2004, Routledge, ISBN 1135582289, 978-1135582289, google books (quoted); Bailey and Spikins, 4
  13. ^ Straus, Lawrence Guy, in Bailey and Spikins, 312
  14. ^ Stjerna 1910, p. 2
  15. ^ Stjerna 1910, p. 12: "... a persisté pendant la période paléolithique récente et même pendant la période protonéolithique."
  16. ^ Stjerna 1910, p. 12
  17. ^ Obermaier, Hugo (1924). Fossil man in Spain. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 322.


  • Bailey, Geoff and Spikins, Penny, Mesolithic Europe, 2008, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521855039, 978-0521855037
  • Simmons, Alan H., The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East: Transforming the Human Landscape, 2007, University of Arizona Press, ISBN 978-0816529667, google books
  • Stjerna, Knut (1910). "Les groupes de civilisation en Scandinavie à l'époque des sépultures à galerie". L'Anthropologie (in French). XXI: 1–34.

Aetokremnos is a rock shelter near Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus. It is situated on a steep cliff site c. 40 m (131.23 ft) above the Mediterranean sea. The name means "Cliff of the eagles" in Greek. Around 40 m2 (430.56 sq ft) have been excavated and out of the four layers documented, the third is sterile.

The site contains mainly bones of the late Holocene dwarf fauna, such as pygmy elephants (Elephas cypriotes), the Cyprus Dwarf Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus minor) and artifacts (c. 1,000 flints including thumbnail scrapers of the Mesolithic type). There are no bones that show marks of butchery, but an unusually high frequency (30%) of burned bones. The pygmy hippos make up c. 74% of the bones, followed by fish remains (25%) and birds, mainly bustards. Dwarf elephants are comparatively rare (3 individuals). The presence of fallow deer (4 bones) and pig (13 bones) is puzzling, since these animals are thought to have been introduced only in the Neolithic period.According to the excavators, hearth remains are found in the layer containing the bone beds of the extinct megafauna. This would make it the oldest site on the island and evidence of Epipalaeolithic occupation. The original 31 radiocarbon dates put the date of the bones at c. 12,500 years BP. and suggest a short-term occupation. These dates have been challenged as the excavators considered the nine bone dates to be the least reliable and did not agree with the dates of the stratigraphy where they were found. As of 2013 there are now 36 radiocarbon dates of which 13 were taken from animal bones (pig and hippo). A 2013 report states that even discarding these and relying on the other 23 determinations on charcoal, sediment and shell "we reaffirm our original interpretation of a relatively short occupation of some 300 years centered around 11,775 years BP, with a range of 11,652 to 11,955 years BP at one standard deviation, or 11,504 to 12,096 years BP at two standard deviations. This is in general accord with Manning’s (2013:501 to 503) masterful compilation of all early Cypriot radiocarbon determinations, in which he places Aetokremnos within an approximate 12,950 to 10,950 years BP range while also preferring a somewhat longer occupation than we presented."There are other deposits with bones of pygmy elephants and hippopotami on the island, but these do not contain artifacts.


Asturian may refer to:

Something of, from, or related to Asturias, in Northern Spain

The Asturian culture of the Epipalaeolithic or Mesolithic Stone Age

Asturian cuisine

Asturian language

Asturian people

Asturcón, also known as an Asturian pony

Asturian culture

The Asturian culture is a Epipalaeolithic or Mesolithic archaeological culture identified by a single form of artefact: the Asturian pick-axe, and found only in coastal locations of Iberia, especially in Eastern Asturias and Western Cantabria. It is believed that the Asturian tool was used for seafood gathering, and the sites where they are found are associated with very large shell-middens (concheros in Spanish), which can fill caves to the ceiling.In other respects the culture is similar to the preceding Azilian of the area, which also extended further to the east along the coast. Whether there is an overlap in dating between Azilian and Asturian sites has been much discussed. Two concheros begin at 9280±440 BP, whereas Azilian dates come to an end after about 9500 BP. End dates for concheros include 7000 and 6500 BP.


Chalossian is an industry of flint tools from the Stone Age. Paul Bovier-Lapierre discovered it in Egypt.

Epipalaeolithic Near East

In the prehistory of the Near East, the Epipalaeolithic ("Final Old Stone Age") is the period after the Upper Palaeolithic and before the Neolithic, between approximately 20,000 and 10,000 years Before Present (BP). The people of the Epipalaeolithic were nomadic hunter-gatherers that generally lived in small, seasonal camps rather than permanent villages. They made sophisticated stone tools using microliths—small, finely-produced blades that were hafted in wooden implements—which are the primary means by which archaeologists recognise and classify Epipalaeolithic sites.The start of the Epipalaeolithic is defined by the appearance of microliths. Although this is an arbitrary boundary, the Epipalaeolithic does differ significantly from the preceding Upper Palaeolithic. Epipalaeolithic sites are more numerous, better preserved and can be accurately radiocarbon dated. The period also coincides with the gradual retreat of glacial climatic conditions between the Last Glacial Maximum and the start of the Holocene and is characterised by population growth and economic intensification. The Epipalaeolithic ended with the "Neolithic Revolution" and the onset of domestication, food production, and sedentism – although archaeologists now recognise that these trends began in the Epipalaeolithic.The period may be subdivided into Early, Middle and Late Epipaleolithic: The Early Epipaleolithic corresponds to the Kebaran culture, c. 20,000 to 14,500 years ago, the Middle Epipaleolithic is the Geometric Kebaran or late phase of the Kebaran, and the Late Epipaleolithic to the Natufian, 14,500–11,500 BP. The Natufian overlaps with the incipient Neolithic Revolution, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A.

Halfan culture

The Halfan industry is one of the Late Epipalaeolithic industries of the Upper Nile Valley that seems to have appeared in northern Sudan c. 22.5-22.0 ka cal BP. It is one of the earliest known backed-bladelet industries in Northern Africa, dating between 22.5 and 16 ka cal BP in Nubia. The Halfan is restricted to the north of Sudan, its Egyptian counterpart, which is in all respects similar, is known as the Kubbaniyan.It has been suggested that the Halfan was related to the Iberomaurusian industry in the Maghreb. The earliest Iberomaurusian is dated to c. 26.0-22.5 ka cal BP and it is not clear whether the Iberomaurusian or the Halfan is more ancient. The Halfan is believed to have descended from the Khormusan Culture which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival.

The Halfan people survived on a diet of large herd animals and the Khormusan tradition of fishing. Greater concentrations of artifacts indicate that they were not bound to seasonal wandering, but settled for longer periods at preferred and more convenient sites from where to make short forays into their seasonal ones. The primary material remains of the Halfan complex are their stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings.

The Halfan industry is characterized by three main tools: Halfa flakes, backed microflakes, and backed microblades. It is only during a transitional stage that all three occur in significant amounts, but all types do occur in every assemblage. The most general observation, is the relative proportions of flakes, microblades, and cores chosen for retouch. This reflects both the tools desired in each assemblage (i.e., Halfa flakes vs. backed microblades), and the degree of the development of the microblade technology (i.e., backed flakes vs. backed microblades).

The only type which shows a high stage of development is the Halfa core. The basic orientation of the Halfa core to opposed platforms is reflected in the number of poor opposed platform flake cores. These are never extensively utilized, and no real care has gone into their initial preparation. The Haifa core does, however, have a number of features which could lead to more generalized, yet effective, core types.

Levallois cores are present, but they are poorly made and have not received the careful attention that the Halfa cores have. In fact, the Levallois flake is merely a more generalized form of Halfa flake and as such could have been of no great value to an industry producing Halfa flakes.


The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites. For the first time arrowheads are found among the stone tool kit.

Andy Burns states "The Harifian dates to between approximately 10,800/10,500bp and 10,000/10,200bp. It is restricted to the Sinai and Negev, and is probably broadly contemporary with the Late Natufian or Pre-Pottery Neolithic A.

Microlithic points are a characteristic feature of the industry, with the Harif point being both new and particularly diagnostic – Bar-Yosef (1998) suggests that it is an indication of improved hunting techniques. Lunates, isosceles and other triangular forms were backed with retouch, and some Helwan lunates are found. This industry contrasts with the Desert Natufian which did not have the roughly triangular points in its assemblage.

There are two main groups within the Harifian. One group consists of ephemeral base camps in the north of Sinai and western Negev, where stone points comprise up to 88% of all microliths, accompanied by only a few lunates and triangles. The other group consists of base camps and smaller campsites in the Negev and features a greater number of lunates and triangles than points. These sites probably represent functional rather than chronological differences. The presence of Khiam points in some sites indicates that there was communication with other areas in the Levant at this time."Harifian has close connections with the late Mesolithic cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. Fusion with animal domestication elements of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) culture is hypothesised by Juris Zarins, to have led to the Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, a group of cultures that invented nomadic pastoralism, and may have been the original culture which spread Proto-Semitic languages throughout the region.


The Iberomaurusian is a backed bladelet lithic industry found near the coasts of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. It is also known from a single major site in Libya, the Haua Fteah, where the industry is locally known as the Eastern Oranian. The Iberomaurusian seems to have appeared around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), somewhere between c. 25,000 and 22,500 cal BP. It would have lasted until the early Holocene c. 11,000 cal BP.The name of the Iberomaurusian means "of Iberia and Mauritania". Pallary (1909) coined this term to describe assemblages from the site of La Mouillah in the belief that the industry extended over the strait of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula. This theory is now generally discounted (Garrod 1938), but the name has stuck.

Pallary (1909) originally described the industry based on material found at the site of l'Abri Mouillah.In Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, but not in Morocco, the industry is succeeded by the Capsian industry, whose origins are unclear. The Capsian is believed either to have spread into North-Africa from the Near East, or have evolved from the Iberomaurusian. In Morocco and Western Algeria, the Iberomaurusian is succeeded by the Cardial culture after a long hiatus.


The Kebaran or Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BP), named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who used microlithic tools.


In Old World archaeology, Mesolithic (Greek: μέσος, mesos "middle"; λίθος, lithos "stone") is the period between

the Upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic. The term Epipaleolithic is often used synonymously, especially for outside northern Europe, and for the corresponding period in the Levant and Caucasus.

The Mesolithic has different time spans in different parts of Eurasia.

It refers to the final period of hunter-gatherer cultures in Europe and Western Asia, between the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the Neolithic Revolution. In Europe it spans roughly 15,000 to 5,000 BP; in Southwest Asia (the Epipalaeolithic Near East) roughly 20,000 to 8,000 BP.

The term is less used of areas further east, and not at all beyond Eurasia and North Africa.

The type of culture associated with the Mesolithic varies between areas, but it is associated with a decline in the group hunting of large animals in favour of a broader hunter-gatherer way of life, and the development of more sophisticated and typically smaller lithic tools and weapons than the heavy chipped equivalents typical of the Paleolithic. Depending on the region, some use of pottery and textiles may be found in sites allocated to the Mesolithic, but generally indications of agriculture are taken as marking transition into the Neolithic. The more permanent settlements tend to be close to the sea or inland waters offering a good supply of food. Mesolithic societies are not seen as very complex, and burials are fairly simple; grandiose burial mounds are another mark of the Neolithic.

Natufian culture

The Epipaleolithic Natufian culture () existed from around 12,000 to 9,500 BC or 13,050 to 7,550 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. The culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Natufians founded Jericho which may be the oldest city in the world. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. The world's oldest evidence of bread-making has been found at Shubayqa 1, a 14,500 year old site in Jordan's northeastern desert. In addition, the oldest known evidence of beer, dating to approximately 13,000 BP, was found at the Raqefet Cave in the Carmel Mountains near Haifa in Israel, in which it was used by the semi-nomadic Natufians for ritual feasting.Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles. According to Christy G. Turner II, there is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant, Persian Gulf and the Natufians.Archaeogenetics have revealed derivation of later (Neolithic to Bronze Age) Levantines primarily from Natufians, besides substantial admixture from Chalcholithic Anatolians.Dorothy Garrod coined the term Natufian based on her excavations at Shuqba cave (Wadi an-Natuf) located in the western Judean Mountains.


The Neolithic ( (listen), also known as the "New Stone Age"), the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world.

The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world (the New World) remained in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone", literally meaning "New Stone Age". The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system.

Nigel Goring-Morris

Adrian Nigel Goring-Morris is a British-born Archaeologist and a Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. He completed his PhD there in 1986 and is notable for his work and discoveries at one of the oldest ritual burial sites in the world; Kfar HaHoresh. The earliest levels of this site have been dated to 8000 BC (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) and it is located in the northern Israel, not far from Nazareth.

Prehistoric Cyprus

The Prehistoric Period is the oldest part of Cypriot history. On Cyprus, the earliest traces of human presence and of contacts with the mainland date to ca. 10500-10000 BC, or perhaps even earlier, as some evidence suggests. Hunter-gatherers, whose chipped stone industry may be roughly compared to Levantine Epipalaeolithic traditions, visited the island periodically, obtaining their food by collecting shellfish and the hunting of birds and reptiles. Wild boar was also hunted; as this species is absent from Pleistocene paleontological assemblages on the island, it is possible that it was introduced to Cyprus, a fact suggesting that these people were already masters of the art of navigation. The role of humans in the extinction of the endemic Pleistocene species, such as pygmy hippos and elephants, is much debated. Traces of such short, seasonal visits are known from Aetokremnos (Simmons 1999), a collapsed rock shelter located at the tip of the Akrotiri Peninsula, and in small open-air sites at Aspros, on the western coastline of Akamas Peninsula and Ayia Napa- Nissi Beach in the south-east of the island.

Prehistory of Southeastern Europe

The prehistory of Southeastern Europe, defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkan peninsula (including the territories of the modern countries of Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, and European Turkey) covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the appearance of the first written records in Classical Antiquity, in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.

Human prehistory in Southeastern Europe is conventionally divided into smaller periods, such as Upper Paleolithic, Holocene Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic, Neolithic Revolution, expansion of Proto-Indo-Europeans, and Protohistory. The changes between these are gradual. For example, depending on interpretation, protohistory might or might not include Bronze Age Greece (2800–1200 BC), Minoan, Mycenaean, Thracian and Venetic cultures. By one interpretation of the historiography criterion, Southeastern Europe enters protohistory only with Homer (See also Historicity of the Iliad, and Geography of the Odyssey). At any rate, the period ends before Herodotus in the 5th century BC.

Tell Abu Hureyra

Tell Abu Hureyra (Arabic: تل أبو هريرة‎) is an archaeological site in the Euphrates valley in modern Syria. The remains of the villages within the tell come from over 4,000 years of pre-ceramic habitation spanning the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic periods. Ancient Abu Hureyra was occupied between 13,000 and 9,000 years ago in radio carbon years. The site is significant because the inhabitants of Abu Hureyra started out as hunter-gatherers, but gradually moved to farming, making them the earliest known farmers in the world.


Trialetian is the name for an Upper Paleolithic-Epipaleolithic stone tool industry from the area south of the Caucasus Mountains and to the northern Zagros Mountains. It is tentatively dated to the period between 16,000 / 13,000 BP and 8,000 BP. The name of the archaeological culture derives from sites in the district of Trialeti in south Georgian Khrami river basin. These sites include Barmaksyzkaya and Edzani-Zurtaketi. In Edzani, an Upper Paleolithic site, a significant percentage of the artifacts are made of obsidian.The Caucasian-Anatolian area of Trialetian culture was adjacent to the Iraqi-Iranian Zarzian culture to the east and south as well as the Levantine Natufian to the southwest. Alan H. Simmons describes the culture as "very poorly documented". In contrast, recent excavations in the Valley of Qvirila river, to the north of the Trialetian region, display a Mesolithic culture. The subsistence of these groups were based on hunting Capra caucasica, wild boar and brown bear.


Vasco-Cantabria is a term, mainly used in archaeology and the environmental sciences, for an area on the northern coast of Spain. It covers similar areas to the northern parts of the adjacent modern regions of the Basque country and Cantabria. In geology the "Vasco-Cantabrian Basin" or "Basque-Cantabrian Basin" covers the area and the seas off the coast, in the Bay of Biscay, an area between the Iberian and European tectonic plates.

The area is of special significance in the archaeology of the Upper Palaeolithic, Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic periods of the Stone Age. A narrow coastal strip was a glacial refugium, never covered by glaciers during the Last Glacial Maximum, and appears to have been densely populated. It is part of the wider Franco-Cantabrian region (also Franco-Cantabric region) that stretches from Asturias, the next region west of the Basque Country, to Provence in southeastern France.

The main archaeological industries in the area during this period are the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian, and the Upper Paleolithic Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, Magdalenian, and then the Azilian, which is variously classified as Late Paleolithic, Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic. Vasco-Cantabrian sites contain much of the surviving art of the Upper Paleolithic, especially in terms of cave paintings. The UNESCO World Heritage Site "Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain" consists of ten caves in Cantabria and three in the Basque County, as well as five from the Comarca de Oriente, the easternmost part of Asturias.

Zarzian culture

Zarzian culture is an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Southwest Asia.

The period of the culture is estimated to have existed about 18,000–8,000 BCE. It was preceded by the Baradostian culture in the same region and was related to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus.

The culture was named and recognised of the cave of Zarzi in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Here were found plenty of microliths (up to 20% finds). Their forms are short and asymmetric trapezoids, and triangles with hollows.

Andy Burns states "The Zarzian of the Zagros region of Iran is contemporary with the Natufian but different from it. The only dates for the entire Zarzian come from Palegawra Cave, and date to 17,300-17,000BP, but it is clear that it is broadly contemporary with the Levantine Kebaran, with which it shares features. It seems to have evolved from the Upper Palaeolithic Baradostian."

There are only a few Zarzian sites and the area appears to have been quite sparsely populated during the Epipalaeolithic. Faunal remains from the Zarzian indicate that the temporary form of structures indicate a hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy, focused on onager, red deer and caprines. Better known sites include Palegawra Cave, Shanidar B2 and Zarzi." The Zarzian culture seems to have participated in the early stages of what Kent Flannery has called the broad spectrum revolution.

The Zarzian culture is found associated with remains of the domesticated dog and with the introduction of the bow and arrow. It seems to have extended north into the Gobustan (Kobystan, Qobustan) region and into Eastern Iran as a forerunner of the Hissar and related cultures.

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