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The Gravettian toolmaking culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Palaeolithic era prevalent before the last glacial epoch. It is named after the type site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied. The earliest signs of the culture were found at Kozarnika, Bulgaria. One of the earliest artifacts is also found in eastern Crimea (Buran-Kaya) (see Crimean Mountains) dated 32,000 years ago. It lasted until 22,000 years ago. Where found, it succeeded the artifacts datable to the Aurignacian culture.
In August 2013, Romanian archaeologists found a 20,000-years old Gravettian pendant at the Paleolithic site of Poiana Ciresului (English: Cherry Glade), near Piatra Neamț, in eastern Romania. The newly discovered objects will be included in the Paleolithic artifacts collection of Târgoviște History Museum, in the new section of human evolution. The department will open at "Stelea" Galleries with the support of Dâmboviţa County Council.
The diagnostic characteristic artifacts of the industry are small pointed restruck blade with a blunt but straight back, a carving tool known as a Noailles burin. (See to compare with similar purposed modern tool: burin)
Artistic achievements of the Gravettian cultural stage include the hundreds of Venus figurines, which are widely distributed in Europe. The predecessor culture was linked to similar figurines and carvings.
Gravettian culture is a phase (c.32,000–22,000 ya) of the European Upper Paleolithic that is characterized by a stone-tool industry with small pointed blades used for big-game hunting (bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth). People in the Gravettian period also used nets to hunt small game. For more information on hunting see Animal Usage in the Gravettian. It is divided into two regional groups: the western Gravettian, mostly known from cave sites in France, and the eastern Gravettian, with open sites of specialized mammoth hunters on the plains of central Europe and Russia such as the derivative Pavlovian culture.
Artifacts and technologies of this and the preceding Aurignacian culture figure centrally in the romanticized adaptation of the culture in the popular fictional pre-history depicted in the Earth's Children novel series which leans heavily on archeological finds and theories from this era. In the series, the Venus figurines are central to a fertility rite and worship of "The Great Earth Mother", a nature spirit from which all life flows.
- Aurignacian culture
- Animal Usage in the Gravettian
- Earth's Children series
- Last Glacial Maximum
- Upper Paleolithic
- Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
- Venus figurines
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- Picture Gallery of the Paleolithic (reconstructional palaeoethnology), Libor Balák at the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Archaeology in Brno, The Center for Paleolithic and Paleoethnological Research
- Cave sites in France
- 20,000-year-old Gravettian stone pendant found in Piatra Neamţ, Romania