Standing at the gates of Europe: Human behavior and biogeography in the Southern Carpathians during the Late Pleistocene

Julien Riel-Salvatore, Gabriel Popescu, C Michael Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study presents a behavioral analysis of Middle and Upper Paleolithic lithic assemblages from 14 sites located in the southern Carpathian Mountains. Using a whole assemblage behavioral indicator, we show that the hominins that manufactured those stone tools do not appear to have differed in terms of the flexibility of the mobility strategies they employed to exploit their landscapes. Rather than biological change, we argue that large-scale climate changes are likely more important drivers of behavioral changes during the Late Pleistocene of the region, including during the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition. These results agree well with the results of studies having employed this methodology in other regions, suggesting that this is a generalized feature of the transition across Eurasia. Recasting the transition as a mainly ecological rather than purely biocultural process allows us to generate new perspectives from which to approach the question of behavioral change during the Late Pleistocene, and ultimately suggests that the process referred to as the 'Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition' is essentially a brief segment of a much more extensive process driven by prehistoric human-environment interactions that would culminate in the highly logistical mobility strategies documented throughout the continent at the Last Glacial Maximum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-417
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Carpathian Mountains
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Lithic technology
  • Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition
  • Mobility
  • Romania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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