History Files

European Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Montadian & Romanelli Cultures (Epi-Palaeolithic) (Southern Europe)
c.12,000 - 7000 BC
Incorporating the Valorguian Culture

The Southern European Epi-Palaeolithic (Late Palaeolithic) Azilian culture succeeded the Magdalenian in Spain and southern France, although the Magdalenian continued in Northern Europe. The Azilian was a much simplified form of the Magdalenian with nowhere near the richness of Magdalenian culture (especially its art). Resources seem to have been tougher to access during this period than previously.

A series of interesting European Epi-Palaeolithic industries occurred across northern areas of the Mediterranean area during the Azilian. Their dates are generally conjectural, and more finds are probably required before specific dates can be calculated. All of these existed with the long-running Epigravettian bordering them to the east.

However, they can generally be positioned with some certainty between the Younger Dryas cold snap (which ended around 9700 BC) and the Preboreal period (which began around 8000 BC), even if their start and finish dates may extend some way on either side of those dates. The most important of them are the Romanelli and the seemingly associated Valorguian (or Valarguian) which emerged in Italy. And then there was the Montadian which seems to be a development of the Romanelli.

This region and its very localised industries appear to have developed solely from local Palaeolithic traditions without any outside influence, such as from the widespread and concurrent Sauveterrian culture. As mentioned, there is little evidence to provide a dating for them, apart from the fact that they have some slight resemblances to Azilian efforts, although even these are suspected to be the product of parallel evolution.

The Montadian is one of a wider series of cultures (along with the Azilian, Tardenoisian, and Sauveterrian, amongst others) which furnish evidence of the deliberate and organised exploitation of forest resources, including acorns, hazelnuts, wild cattle, boar, fallow deer, red deer, and ibex. Successor cultures potentially include the Montclusian and Castelnovian cultures, although perhaps not as part of a smooth progression.

Mesolithic stone tools

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Pervobytnoe obshchestvo, P P Efimenko (Third Ed, Kiev, 1953), from Istoriia pervobytnogo obshchestva, V I Ravdonikas (Part1, Leningrad, 1939), from Préhistoire de France, F Bourdier (Paris, 1967), from Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Moravia, Martin Oliva (Moravian Museum, 2005), from Europe in the Neolithic: The Creation of New Worlds, A W R Whittle (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and from The Origins of European Thought, R B Onians (Cambridge University Press, 1988), and from External Links: Mesolithic Culture of Europe (PDF, Vidya Mitra Integrated E-Content Portal), and The Mesolithic Period in South and Western Britain, Geoffrey John Wainwright (University of London, Faculty of Arts thesis submission, 1961, available to download as a PDF).)

c.9700 BC

FeatureThe Younger Dryas has seen a temporary return to glacial conditions, although not uniformly around the world, or even in Northern Europe (and see feature link). The fading of its last stages now sees the gradual reintroduction of trees across the northern tundra and improvements to life for modern humans in Southern Europe.

North American large mammals
The Younger Dryas cold spell hit North America hard, just when things were starting to warm up at the end of the ice age - not only did many of the large mammals die out but so did the Clovis culture (click or tap on image to view full sized)

The Romanelli and Valorguian cultures appear around now (if they have not already done so). Both seem to share characteristics and may be linked to some extent, while the Montadian soon develops out of the Romanelli.

c.8000 - 7000 BC

MapThe Preboreal period which begins about 8000 BC sees the climate become significantly warmer in Northern Europe following the gradual retreat of the ice sheets, especially in the Baltics (see map link for a view of Europe at this time).

Birch and pine forests start to spread, and elk, bears, beavers, and various species of water birds migrate into the region from the south. In Southern Europe, the Montadian and Romanelli and their associated industries appear to fade out by or before about 7000 BC.

Preboreal hunting lands in Europe
The Preboreal period is a formative stage of the early Holocene which lasted between 9000-4000 BC, one in which the post-glacial world of Northern Europe was warming to temperatures which were very close to those of the twentieth century

c.7000 BC

With the ending of the Romanelli, Valorguian, and Montadian, One indirect successor - albeit confined entirely to Iberia - is the new Asturian culture which has to its north the last stages of the Sauveterrian culture.

The development of a localised successor culture has been questioned. This is known as the Montclusian, being based in areas which are far from the sea.

Some archaeologists point to what could be a full break in site habitation between the Montadian and the subsequent Castelnovian which itself emerges along the southern coast during the mid-Boreal period (about 6500 BC).

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