Famous Planet Earth Caves

Volume: 2

Late Palaeolithic Cave Bear Hunters

Author(s): Cajus G. Diedrich

Pp: 133-149 (17)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681085302117020010

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The oldest record of Late Palaeolithic latest Aurignacien cave bear hunting and butchering is presented for the Hermann’s Cave, a large Late Pleistocene cave bear den in the Harz Mountain (northern Germany), the most northern cave bear hunting (non-camp) site of Europe. Cromagnon man only occasionally hunted the largest cave bear species Ursus spelaeus ingressus, possibly also the small cave bear Ursus spelaeus eremus, with propulsion weapons in the larger cave systems. A 29.2010 ± 201 BP (latest Aurignacien/earliest Gravettien transition) old bone point (Aurignacien Mladeč type) and by use broken flint projectile were found both 90 meters deep in the upper cave bear bone/skeleton layers. Additionally, flint tools were discovered 40 meters deep, closer to the former entrance: two blades (one broken, both with lateral use) and a broken blade scraper, such as a flake scraper. The used damaged flint artifacts represent a butchering tool kit that was used for dismembering a cave bear carcass at the kill site. Two cave bear bones with deeper V-profile shaped cut marks were found, which correlate to damage use from one or two blades. Sickle-like parallel cuts are found on a femur shaft of an adult bear (U. s. ingressus). Straight cuts are on a scapula of an older neonate cave bear. Whereas in lowlands and river valleys of middle high mountain slopes in summer to the mountains migrating reindeer (and also horses) were the main big game target, in winter times in boreal forest mountain regions cave bears were hunted by Late Pleistocene humans, in competition with steppe lions, leopards, Ice Age spotted hyenas and wolves.

Keywords: Cave bear hunt, Late Aurignacien, Hunting 40-90m deep in cave bear den, Damaged propulsion projectiles, Butchering flint tool kit, Cut marks, Large cave bear U. ingressus, Most northern cave bear hunt record of Europe.

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