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European Kingdoms

Early Cultures

 

Bohunician Culture (Upper Palaeolithic) (Southern-Central & Eastern Europe)
c.48,000 - 35,000 BC
Incorporating the Szeletian & Uluzzian Cultures

IndexThe Bohunician was one of Europe's earliest modern human cultures, set in the Upper Palaeolithic (Late Old Stone Age). However, this is not the earliest human culture overall, as it only succeeds a much broader one called the Afro-Eurasian Mousterian. Unlike the semi-contemporary Châtelperronian, though, there is no hesitancy in assigning this culture to anatomically modern humans (see the 'Prehistoric World' index for information on Neanderthal existence, via the link on the right).

In fact the Bohunician was a bridging culture (or, more accurately, an industry) between the Mousterian and the Aurignacian. It existed between about 48,000-41,000 BC in southern-central and Eastern Europe. This broad sweep of territory formed a slowly-expanding south-eastern European 'bubble' in which the first anatomically modern humans to enter Europe were adapting to life there after leaving the Near East.

Despite the 'south-eastern' tag, though, artefacts from this early phase of a modern human presence in Europe have been found in the type site of Brno-Bohunice (Brno in Czechia), as well as at Bacho Kiro and Temnata Cave (in modern Bulgaria), Stránská skála (in Moravia), Dzierzyslaw (in Poland), and various others.

In technological terms, the tools of this culture resemble those of the Mousterian Levallois (unsurprising since the people of the Bohunician had brought this technology with them from that very culture). They also show some similarities with the Emireh and Ahmarian cultures in the Near East.

Two other transitional cultures in southern and Eastern Europe represent similar pockets of important technology. The first of these was Szeletian culture which was centred on the Bükk Mountains in Hungary but which also reached into areas of southern Poland. The Szeletian was prominent between about 39,000-35,000 BC.

In essence it is a regional successor to the Bohunician and a contemporary of the Aurignacian. However, no human remains have been found to link the tools to them. This could in theory be a Neanderthal culture. Like the Aurignacian though, it was succeeded by the Gravettian.

The other culture was the Uluzzian which was concentrated in southern Italy in the Gulf of Taranto. Another transitional culture, it flourished between about 43,000-37,500 BC, showing that modern humans likely reached the Early Italian peninsula before they got as far north as Bohemia and Moravia.

Its conclusion can sometimes be extended by some scholars to about 35,000 BC, which would bring its decline and replacement by the Gravettian into line with the fading of the Szeletian. This time modern human remains have been found in the type site, linking the culture firmly to the new arrivals and making it more likely that the Szeletian is also a modern human culture.

Szeletian culture tools

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Who were the makers of the Châtelperronian culture? O Bar-Yosef & J-G Bordes (Journal of Human Evolution, 2010), from A Cognitive and Neurophysical Perspective on the Chatelperronian, F L Coolidge & T Wynn T (Journal of Archaeological Research, 2004), from Human Choices and Environmental Constraints: Deciphering the variability of large game procurement from Mousterian to Aurignacian times (MIS 5-3) in southwestern France, E Discamps, J Jaubert, & F Bachellerie (Quaternary Science Reviews, 2011), from Neanderthal Acculturation in Western Europe? A Critical Review of the Evidence and its Interpretation, F D d'Errico, J Zilhao, M Julien, D Baffier, & J Pelerin (Current Anthropology Supplement to 39, 1998), and from External Links: Neanderthals manufactured Châtelperronian amid cultural diffusion with humans, study finds (2012), and Science, and The spread of modern humans in Europe, John F Hoffecker (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 22 Sep 2009; 106(38)).)

c.48,000 BC

The Bohunician is a bridging culture (or, more accurately, an industry) between the Afro-Eurasian Mousterian and the Aurignacian. It emerges alongside the semi-contemporary Châtelperronian in southern-central and Eastern Europe.

This broad sweep of territory forms a slowly-expanding south-eastern European 'bubble' in which the first anatomically modern humans to enter Europe are adapting to life here after leaving the Near East.

Bohunician tools
The middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Middle Danube area is characterised by the presence of two transitional technocomplexes, the Bohunician and the Szeletian, together with the early appearance of the Aurignacian, although the Bohunician lacks a local predecessor and seems to be intrusive to the area

c.43,000 BC

Another transitional culture of this period is the Uluzzian, which is concentrated in southern Italy in the Gulf of Taranto. This flourishes between about 43,000-37,500 BC, showing that modern humans likely reach early Italy before they get as far north as Bohemia and Moravia.

c.39,000 BC

Also notable from this period is the Szeletian which is centred on the Bükk Mountains in Hungary but which also reaches into areas of southern Poland. The Szeletian is prominent between about 39,000-35,000 BC.

c.41-35,000 BC

The conclusion of the Bohunician around 41,000 BC sees it succeeded by the Aurignacian culture across Europe just as the near-contemporary Châtelperronian is also fading.

The Szeletian and Uluzzian both also fade no later than around 35,000 BC, to be succeeded by the Gravettian culture.

 
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