Small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus) as a game species of prehistoric man 

Gimranov D.O., Kosintsev P.A., Bachura O.P., Zhilin M.G., Kotov V.G., Rumyantsev M.M.

 

Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 2 (53)

 

https://doi.org/10.20874/2071-0437-2021-53-2-1

 

              page 514

(Download)

 

Abstract

Imanay Cave is located in the Southern Urals (5302' N, 5626' E), at 420 m.a.s.l. A 9.5 m2 trench was excavated in the grotto in the inner part of the cave to examine the sediments. The accretion thickness was 1.2 m. The taphocoenosis of the Imanay Cave is of the Pleistocene age and contains about 10,000 specimens of bone remains of large mammals. They mostly belong to small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus), and the remaining bones to species of the mammoth faunal complex (Lepus sp., Castor fiber, Marmota bobak, Canis lupus, Cuon alpinus, Vulpes vulpes, V. corsac, Meles sp., Gulo gulo, Martes sp., Mustela sp., Ursus kanivetz, U. arctos, U. thibetanus, Panthera ex gr. fossilis-spelaea, Mammuthus primigenius, Equus ferus, Coelodonta antiquitatis, Alces alces, Bison priscus, Saiga tatarica, Ovis ammon). In the layer with the bones, Middle Paleolithic stone artifacts were found, including several bifacial points. These tools have analogies in the Middle Paleolithic sites of the Caucasus region and Crimea. During excavations of the cave, the skull of a cave bear with artificial damage was found. The study of the artificial perforation on the skull was the purpose of the present paper. On the basis of dimensional and morphological features, it was established that the skull belongs to a small cave bear (U. ex gr. savini-rossicus). The skull was directly AMS radiocarbon dated to 34 940 140 BP, IGANAMS-5652. Analysis of the growth layers in the teeth revealed that the animal died in winter at an age of 9-10 years. Trace evidence analysis showed, that the hole in the parietal region of the skull was made by a sharp bifacial flint point similar to the Middle Paleolithic points found in the cultural layer of the cave. The animal was killed during winter hibernation, most probably by stabbing with a spear. This is the first direct evidence of human hunting of a small cave bear. With the abundance of cave bear bones, the skull with the hole in it is the only evidence of human impact on this animal. There are no bones with traces of butchering and harvesting of the bone marrow.

Key words: small cave bear, Late Pleistocene, Middle Paleolithic, hunting, South Urals, Imanay Cave.

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 25.02.2020

Article is published: 28.05.2021

 

Gimranov D.O., Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch RAS, 8 March st., 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144, Russian Federation, E-mail: djulfa250@rambler.ru,

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9592-5211

 

Kosintsev P.A., Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch RAS, 8 March st., 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144, Russian Federation, E-mail: kpa1958@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0973-7426

 

Bachura O.P., Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch RAS, 8 March st., 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144, Russian Federation, E-mail: olga@ipae.uran.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4865-5167

 

Zhilin M.G., Institute of Archaeology RAS, Dmitri Ulyanov st.,19, Moscow, 117292, Russian Federation, E-mail: mizhilin@yandex.ru https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3891-2959

 

Kotov V.G., Institute of History, Language and Literature, UFRC RAS, prosp. Oktyabrya, 71, Ufa, 450054, Russian Federation, E-mail: kslav1@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3510-0058

 

Rumyantsev M.M., Institute of History, Language and Literature, UFRC RAS, prosp. Oktyabrya, 71, Ufa, 450054, Russian Federation, E-mail: rumiantsevmike@rambler.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2787-3074