NEMO-ADAP is exploring the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of western Ukraine by conducting surveys and test-excavations in two geographic areas: (1) the Middle Dniestr valley, north of the Carpathian Mountains, described here, and (2) the Upper Tisza valley in the so-called Transcarpathian part of Ukraine and just south of the Carpathian Mountains.
Both areas are known for sites dating roughly to the Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 3 and 2, but detailed chronostratigraphic and palaeoclimatic information is limited.
An apparent difference between the two regions is that in the Upper Tisza valley of Ukraine (and in adjacent Hungary) Aurignacian sites are known, while up to now they are absent from the Middle Dniestr valley. With our surveys of these areas we aim to study whether this is related to research history, preservation of deposits, or the presence of another, non-Aurignacian technocomplex.
The Middle Dniestr and the Upper Tisza valleys are particularly promising for two reasons:
1. The long loess palaeosol sequences are characterised by high palaeoclimatic resolution that allows us to place human occupation in a climatic context.
2. In addition to dating methods such as 14C and OSL there is the potential to use cryptotephra as a chronostratigraphic marker.
The western Ukraine region is located in the general distribution of cryptotephra originating from the Campagnian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption and known from the Kostenki-Borshevo area further northeast and the Balkans further south. The CI (also: Y5) tephra and/or others are important chronostratigraphic markers that can be especially useful when 14C dating might be limited or problematic due to ages close to the limit of the radiocarbon dating method.