Looking around Peştera Cu Oase: The beginnings of Upper Paleolithic in Romania


In contrast to the widely acknowledged anthropological finds in Oase Cave and to the key geographical
position of Romanian territory for the assumed dispersion of Anatomically Modern Humans in Europe,
the archaeological information regarding the emergence of the Upper Paleolithic in Romania remains
poorly known to a broader scientific community. The prolonged theoretical and methodological isolation
of the Romanian Paleolithic research has particularly contributed to keeping the regional archaeology out of the mainstream debates regarding the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe. It has also
encouraged the widely held belief of most Romanian archaeologists in the gradual emergence of the
Upper Paleolithic, initiated from the local Mousterian.
The present paper puts forward a brief examination of the Romanian archaeological record allegedly
belonging to the main cultural actors involved in the transition to the Upper Paleolithic across Europe
the Late Mousterian, the so-called “transitional” industries, and the Aurignacian technocomplex.
Doubtful stratigraphical data and radiocarbon sampling feed skepticism regarding the supposed Late
Mousterian occurrences in the Southern Carpathian caves. The “transitional” industries ask for a similar
criticism, as they either display stratigraphical mixing (e.g. the Mitoc-Valea Izvorului), or simply do not
belong to the Early Upper Paleolithic chronological framework (e.g. the Ripiceni-Izvor “Aurignacian”).
The local origin, the wide dispersal, and the surprisingly young chronology of the Aurignacian technocomplex
in Romania are equally challenged. With the exception of the yet undated occurrences in
Banat (Southwestern Romania), all the convincingly documented Aurignacian contexts belong to the
generally accepted European chronological framework and show no particular connection to the local


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Anghelinu, M., Niţă, L., Sitlivy, V., Uthmeier, T., Băltean, I. (2012): Looking around Peştera Cu Oase: The beginnings of Upper Paleolithic in Romania. – In: Quaternary International, Vol. 274, p: 136-157

Authors Mircea Anghelinu and Loredana Niţă and Valéry Sitlivy and Thorsten Uthmeier and Ion Băltean
Type article
Title Looking around Peştera Cu Oase: The beginnings of Upper Paleolithic in Romania
Journal Quaternary International
Year 2012
Volume 274
Pages 136-157
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