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Geographical range Europe
Period Upper Paleolithic
Dates 33,000 to 17,000 BP (most inclusive)[a]
Type site La Gravette
Major sites Dordogne
Preceded by Aurignacian
Followed by Solutrean, Epigravettian
The Paleolithic

Pliocene (before Homo)

Lower Paleolithic
(c. 3.3 Ma – 300 ka)
Middle Paleolithic
(300–45 ka)
Upper Paleolithic
(50–10 ka)
Stone Age
A replica of the Gravettian Venus of Lespugue. The Gravettians produced a large number of Venus figurines.
Gravettian burin

The Gravettian was an archaeological industry of the European Upper Paleolithic that succeeded the Aurignacian c. 31,000 BC.[2] It is archaeologically the last European culture many argue unified,[3] and had mostly disappeared by c. 22,000 BC[4] close to the Last Glacial Maximum, although some elements lasted longer. At this point, it was replaced abruptly by the Solutrean in France and Spain, and developed into or continued as the Epigravettian in Italy, the Balkans, and Russia.

The origins of the Gravettian people are not clear, they seem to appear simultaneously all over Europe.[5] To a greater extent than their Aurignacian predecessors, they are known for their Venus figurines.

The culture was first identified at the site of La Gravette in Southwestern France.


One typical artefact of the industry, once considered diagnostic, is a small pointed blade with a straight blunt back, known as the Gravette point. These were used to hunt big game including bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth. Gravettians also used nets to hunt small game.

Regional variants[edit]

Archaeologists usually describe two regional variants: the western Gravettian, known namely from cave sites in France, Spain and Britain, and the eastern Gravettian in Central Europe and Russia. The eastern Gravettians — they include the Pavlovian culture — were specialized mammoth hunters, whose remains are usually found not in caves but in open air sites.

In modern literature[edit]

The Aurignacian and Gravettian cultures are featured in Earth's Children, a series of novels set in prehistory. In this piece of fiction, the Venus figurines play a particularly important role at the center of a fertility rite.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
33,000–24,000 cal BP
Succeeded by


  1. ^ This is with the most inclusive definition, based on anything that may be considered Gravettian (burials, venus statues, lithics)[1]


  1. ^ Pesesse, Damien (2013). "Le Gravettien existe-t-il? Le prisme du système technique lithique" [Does the Gravettian exist? The prism of the lithic technical system]. In Marcel Otte. Les Gravettiens. Civilisations et cultures (in French). Paris: Éditions errance. pp. 66–104. ISBN 978-2877725095. D'ailleurs selon les auteurs et les thèmes abordés, la définition et donc les contours du Gravettien varient, parfois considérablement. Tantôt certains ensembles de la plaine russe seront intégrés sur la base des témoignages funéraires, tantôt les statuettes féminines serviront d'argument pour annexer les rives du lac Baïkal à cette supra-entité. De même, le Gravettien débuterait vers 31,000 BP ou 27,000 BP selon les régions pour finir parfois à 22,000 BP, parfois à 17,000 BP. Ce ne sont pas là de menues différences. 
  2. ^ R.M. Jacobi, T.F.G. Higham, P. Haesaerts, I. Jadin, L.S. Basell (2009). "Radiocarbon chronology for the Early Gravettian of northern Europe: new AMS determinations for Maisie`res-Canal, Belgium". Antiquity. 84: 26–40. 
  3. ^ Noiret, Pierre (2013). "De quoi Gravettien est-il le nom?" [Gravettian is the name of what?]. In Marcel Otte. Les Gravettiens. Civilisations et cultures (in French). Paris: Éditions errance. pp. 28–64. ISBN 978-2877725095. 
  4. ^ A.W.G. Pike, D.L. Hoffmann, M. García-Diez, P.B. Pettitt, J. Alcolea, R. De Balbín, C. Gonzalez-Sainz, C. de las Heras, J.A. Lasheras, R. Montes, J. Zilhão (2012). "U-series dating of Paleolithic art in 11 caves in Spain". Science. 336: 1409–1413. 
  5. ^ F. Djindjian; J. Koslowski; M. Otte (1999). Le Paléolithique supérieur en Europe (in French). Paris: Armand Colin. p. 205. ISBN 978-2200251079. 

External links[edit]