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A Neanderthal Refugium in the Eastern Adriatic

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On the basis of mineralogical analysis of the tephra layer in the Bioce rock shelter in Montenegro, we revise the cultural and population changes in the eastern Adriatic at the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. The disappearance of Neanderthals from that region was traditionally attributed to the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption ~40 ka BP. Comprehensive studies at Bioce by the Russian-Montenegrin expedition in 2010-2015 have resulted in a hypothesis that a Neanderthal refugium existed in the Balkans. We list the lithological and stratigraphic characteristics of the Pleistocene sequence of the site and describe four main strata. Petrographic and x-ray phase analyses and scanning electron microscopy suggest that minerals from samples of ground from horizon 1.3 are of volcanic origin. The comparison of tephra from that horizon with those from local sequences in terms of composition, shape, and size of particles reveals similarity with the Y-5 tephra from the main phase of the Campanian eruption, dating to 39.30-39.85 ka BP. In the habitation sequence of Bioce, the tephra layer is inside lithological stratum 1. Artifacts from that layer and from the overlying and underlying ones, judging by technological and typological criteria, belong to one and the same lithic industry—the micro-Mousterian facies of the local Middle Paleolithic. New findings imply that the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption did not cause the disappearance of the culture associated with Neanderthals in the eastern Adriatic.

About the Authors

A. V. Vishnevskiy
Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Head of the Central Siberian Geological Museum.

Pr Akademika Koptyuga 3, Novosibirsk, 630090

K. K. Pavlenok
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Deputy Director.

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

M. B. Kozlikin
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation


Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

V. A. Ulyanov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences; Lomonosov Moscow State University
Russian Federation

Senior Researcher.

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090; Leninskie Gory 1, Moscow, 119991

A. P. Derevianko
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Scientifi c Director.

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

M. V. Shunkov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Chief Researcher, Department Head.

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090


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For citation:

Vishnevskiy A.V., Pavlenok K.K., Kozlikin M.B., Ulyanov V.A., Derevianko A.P., Shunkov M.V. A Neanderthal Refugium in the Eastern Adriatic. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2019;47(4):3-15.

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)