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by Archaeology Newsroom

Habitation

Caves, rock-shelters and open air sites were the places of settlement of Palaeolithic man. Depending on the character of the settlement we distinguish the permanent or camp-base, which was comprising mainly dwellings, the killing-sites as well as the butchering-sites. We have a very good knowledge of the function of a broader area of habitation and trafficking of human groups only as regards these regions which present a dense habitation and have been thoroughly studied. There, already since the Middle Palaeolithic, a series of small, clearly defined territory exists, each comprising a main permanent or camp-base and a row of satellite sites around it, where other activities, such as hunting, collecting, working of stone raw materials, were taking place. The structural element of dwellings which have been preserved are protective low walls, heaps of stones, hearths, pits, pave surfaces, piles of mammoth bones and tusks, etc. The oldest remains of dwellings came to light at the locations Olduvai and Melka Kontoure in Africa and were dated around 1.7 million years ago. In Europe, sites of Early Palaeolithic dwellings have been located in France (Solheilac, Terra Amata, Lazaret) and in Italy (Isemia, La Pineta), while many other dwellings of the Middle Palaeolithic have been located in the broader European area (Molodova, Fontmaure). The inhabitation of caves has also produced structures which offered to man shelter from cold and humidity.

The Late Palaeolithic presents a great variety of materials and forms of dwellings. In West Europe stone was used for pavements and low protective walls, while the superstructure was made from perishable materials, such as wood. The dwellings had a circular form and lied on the surface of the ground (Pincevent. Etiolles, etc). In East Europe animal materials were used, such as mammoth tusks. The form of structures, of large dimensions in general, varied, while most of the dwellings lied almost under the ground (Meziritch, Kostenki). In Greece, dwelling structures of the Late Palaeolithic came to light at the site Kleidi in Epirus.