The early upper Paleolithic of eastern Europe reconsidered


  • John F. Hoffecker

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    • John F. Hoffecker is a Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1986 and has conducted field research in Russia and Alaska during the past three decades. He is the author of Desolate Landscapes: Ice-Age Settlement in Eastern Europe (Rutgers University Press, 2002) and the forthcoming Landscape of the Mind: Human Evolution and the Archaeology of Thought (Columbia University Press, in press).


Artifacts of Paleolithic age were first recognized in eastern Europe during the 1870s. Archeologists have struggled ever since to integrate them into the better known record of western Europe, where the interpretive framework of Paleolithic archeology was originally developed.1–5 The essential elements of both the Middle and Upper Paleolithic were recognized quickly in eastern Europe, and a close connection with a major middle Upper Paleolithic industry of central Europe (Gravettian) was established many years ago. The early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) has remained a major challenge, however; it is represented primarily by a bewildering array of local archeological cultures that exhibit limited similarity to contemporaneous industries of western and central Europe.6–9