Late Mousterian subsistence and cave use in Dalmatia: the zooarchaeology of Mujina Pećina, Croatia



The faunal assemblage from Mujina Pećina provides an initial glimpse of Late Middle Palaeolithic food procurement, management, and site use, in Dalmatia, Croatia. Radiometric dates place the entire sequence at about 42 kyr in the middle of OIS 3 (Oxygen Isotope Stage 3) (Rink et al., 2002). Mujina Pećina is located along a potential migration corridor for hominin populations moving into Europe from western Asia. The faunal composition shifts from a co-dominance of red deer and chamois + ibex in Layer D1 + D2 that formed during relatively cold conditions to a clear dominance of wild caprids followed by large bovids and equids in Layer B + C that formed during relatively warm conditions. Although non-hominin carnivores played a significant role in the modification of the faunal assemblages throughout the stratigraphic sequence, the Late Mousterian faunal assemblage from Mujina Pećina shows the hominins to be competent hunters within a context of considerable competition from non-hominin carnivores. These ‘mixed’ hominin-carnivore signatures are pulled apart through a detailed taphonomic analysis of this well-excavated assemblage. The Mujina Pećina assemblage thus provides a significant point of reference for a broader-scale study of variability in Mousterian subsistence practices in their own right as well as within the context of the Initial Upper Palaeolithic in southeastern Europe. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.