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The Middle Palaeolithic of present day Romania : a critical review Pop, Cornel Marian

Abstract

This thesis presents a critical review of research on the Middle Palaeolithic record of present day Romania. Through an analysis of the historical development of the discipline as well as qualitative and quantitative assessments of the published data, I argue that despite a history of research that spans over a century, the Romanian Middle Palaeolithic record is poorly understood, even from a culture historical perspective. Although over 240 locations with potential Middle Palaeolithic finds have been identified to date, of which 120 have yielded artifacts confidently classified as Middle Palaeolithic, only approximately 21 of these have been systematically excavated and adequately published. These sites constitute a sample shown to evidence statistically significant patterns that are most likely a reflection of research bias rather than underlying archaeological phenomena. Nevertheless, through a careful exploratory analysis of the data promising directions for future research are identified, as well as a series of patterns which reveal that Neanderthal populations likely had limited adaptive capacities that rendered them unable to cope with the harshest climatic regimes. Based on currently available figures, Romania appears to have been sparsely populated by Neanderthals throughout, its Middle Palaeolithic record yielding less than approximately 100,000 lithic artifacts (including debris), the majority of which were recovered from but two levels at a single site: Ripiceni-Izvor. Supplementary materials: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/44312

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