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Upper Tisza Valley Project

The Upper Tisza valley is located in the border region between Ukraine, Romania and Hungary. Our work focuses on the Ukrainian part of the valley in so-called Transcarpathia, just south of the Carpathian Mountains. The area is well know for its Palaeolithic sites (Usik et al., 2006; Koulakovska et al., 2010). The NEMO-ADAP project team has been working in the Upper Tisza valley since 2010 and the focus of our work are the sites of Beregovo I and Korolevo II. Both are sites that were excavated in the past and our new fieldwork concentrates on (1) generating a larger, well stratified archaeological collection, (2) establishing a chronostratigraphic context and (3) providing a palaeoenvironmental context for the human occupation. Below we summarise our research at the site of Beregovo I.

BRG excavation

Excavations at Beregovo, 2012.


Beregovo I

The site Beregovo I, south of the town of Beregovo, is located on a ridge, which was partly quarried away by industrial sand/gravel production. This is also how the site has been identified. Nowadays, the quarry is no longer active and, hence, the site no longer endangered. Past excavations provided a large lithic collection, but very limited information on the number of levels, the stratigraphic position of the lithic artefacts, and no information on the environmental context.

NEMO-ADAP project member Vitaly Usik cleaned a section and started excavating a small test-pit in 2006 and 2007. Since 2010 the current team has conducted several fieldwork seasons (September 2010, 2012 and 2013) at the site to enlarge the original test-pit and to explore the potential of the site for future work (Usik et al., 2010).

Up to now more than 20m2 have been excavated. Excavations employ piece-plotting of artefacts with total stations documenting their stratigraphic context and systematic wet-sieving of all excavated sediments. In total, we excavated more than 28,000 objects (piece-plotted and wet-sieving) from one archaeological horizon. 

The NEMO-ADAP project Leica total station with a Trimble Recon data collector in use at Beregovo I, September 2013.


BRG - plot vertical

Vertical find distribution at Beregovo I (2010 to 2012 excavation data). Legend: Green: Lithic artefacts, Blue: Stones, Red: Tuff, Grey: Charcoal. 

 

The lithic artifacts point towards a Proto-Aurignacian assemblage. Raw materials include various cherts of different quality, andesite as well as quartz. Raw material analysis is on-going (in collaboration with Bela Racz, a raw material specialist from the University of Beregovo). Core reduction clearly points towards unidirectional blade and bladelet production. The bladelet production includes various special bladelet cores. Detailed attribute and refitting analyses are ongoing, preliminary results suggest a high refitting rate. Retouched tools include carinated/nosed endscrapers and abundant retouched bladelets, including Dufour bladelets subtype Dufour.

BRG lithic

Selected lithic from Beregovo I: 1, 8, 10: nosed endscraper, 2-7: retouched bladelet fragment (Dufour bladelet subtype Dufour), 9: burin, 11: core tablet. 


Radiocarbon dating of Picea charcoal samples in the radiocarbon laboratories of University of Groningen (Johannes van der Plicht) and Mannheim (Bern Kromer) is in progress. The Picea charcoal samples were cleaned and identified by Freddy Damblon (RBINS, Brussels). We are employing both ABA and ABOx pre-treatment and use cross-dating between two laboratories (Haesaerts et al., 2013). Preliminary results show good agreement of the ages produced in both laboratories. Additionally, we have sampled for cryptotephra (Dustin White) but the sampled part of the sequence did not show the presence of any tephra sherds. Pollen analysis (Natasha Gerasimenko, University of Kiev) to prove an environmental context is ongoing.

 
Preliminary results of our work at Beregovo I have been presented in September 2014 at the UISPP conference in Burgos /Spain and in April 2013 at the Paleoanthropology Society and SAA meetings in Honolulu/Hawaii:
  
Usik V, Koulakovska L, Haesaerts P, Gerasimenko N, Liashyk T, Racz B, Kromer B, Hublin JJ & Nigst PR (2014) 'New Data on the Early Upper Paleolithic of Western Ukraine: Chronology, Environment and Human Behavior at the Aurignacian site of Beregovo I'. Podium presentation at the UISPP conference, Burgos, Spain, 1-7 September. 
  
Nigst PR, Koulakovska L, Usik V, Damblon F, Hublin JJ & Haesaerts P (2013) 'Neanderthal and modern human adaptations in climatic context: New fieldwork in Western Ukraine'. Poster presented at the Paleoanthropology Society Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii (USA). 2-3 April. 
  
Nigst P, Koulakovska L, Usik V, Damblon F & Hublin JJ (2013) 'Exploring the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Western Ukraine'. Poster presented at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii (USA). 3-7 April.
  
  
We published one preliminary report on our work at Beregovo I as a book chapter: 
  
Usik V, Koulakovska L, Nigst PR & Haesaerts P (2013) Research on the Palaeolithic in Transcarpathia, in: Archaeological Research in Ukraine 2012, Institute of Archaeology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, pp. 173-174. PDF available here.
  
  
  
References

Haesaerts, P., Damblon, F., Nigst, P. & Hublin, J.-J. (2013). ABA and ABOx Radiocarbon Cross-Dating on Charcoal from Middle Pleniglacial Loess Deposits in Austria, Moravia, and Western Ukraine, Radiocarbon 55(3-4): 641-7.

Koulakovska, L., Usik, V. & Haesaerts, P. (2010). Early Paleolithic of Korolevo site (Transcarpathia, Ukraine), Quaternary International 223: 116-30.

Usik, V., Koulakovska, L., Nigst, P.R. & Haesaerts, P. (2013). Research on the Palaeolithic in Transcarpathia, in Archaeological Research in Ukraine 2012, Institute of Archaeology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, pp. 173-4.

Usik, V.I., Monigal, K. & Kulakovskaya, L. (2006). New Perspectives on the Transcarpathian Middle to Upper Paleolithic Boundary, in NJ Conard (ed), When Neanderthals nad Modern Humans met, Kerns Verlag, Tübingen, pp. 213-32.

 
All photographs ©NEMO-ADAP Project unless otherwise stated.