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The Palaeolithic settlement of Lefkas Archaeological evidence in a palaeogeographic context
(Journal of Greek Archaeology Volume 1 2016) by Nena Galanidou, Giorgos Iliopoulos and Christina Papoulia. Pages 1-32.ISBN JGAVOL12016GALANIDOU.

The chain of islands emerging from the Ionian Sea constitutes the western part of the active Hellenic Arc and is separated from the European landmass by the shaping forces of eustasy and tectonism. As part of the Ionian Margin, the islands share the same geological and climate regimes with their counterpart, the coastal zone of the west Greek mainland extending from Epirus to the Peloponnese. The Ionian setting consists of limestone geology and karst, rocks containing abundant cherts, high tectonic activity, tsunamis, and high rainfall rates. The pioneering work conducted by A. Sordinas on Corfu, Zakynthos and other islands in the 1960s, later by Cubuk on Kefalonia, and in the 1990s by A. Dousougli and C. Zachos on Lefkas, established the earliest component of Ionian prehistory and laid the foundations for further fieldwork with an explicit Palaeolithic focus. Surface surveys exploring the diachronic history of individual islands or the coastal zone of west Greece have added new points to the Palaeolithic map. Today, early Ionian prehistory is an independent research objective, going hand-in-hand with a shift of interest to early island and coastal archaeology. It is pursued through two interconnected lines of investigation: systematic fieldwork to enlarge the archaeological sample and explore the variation of hominin settlement in time and space, and re-appraisal of published material to fine-tune the archaeology, compare it, and place it in a palaeogeographic context.

In this paper we place the Island of Lefkas in the central Ionian Sea under the spotlight to examine the lithic assemblages recovered by A. Dousougli and K. Zachos from five open-air sites: Karyotes, Cape Doukato, Tsoukalades, Englouvi and Marantochori (Figure 1). We use observations on raw materials, production technology and typology to present a comprehensive account of the core reduction strategies and the tools recovered, and to place the finds in a Palaeolithic timeline. Most of the finds have Middle Palaeolithic affinities and appear to be the remains of Homo neanderthalensis activity. To judge by the presence of blade and bladelet production and the absence of surface alterations, artefacts of later prehistoric periods are also included in the lithic collections. The present study focuses on the Middle Palaeolithic component and allows comparisons with homologous, in context and content, sites from the Ionian Islands, the west Greek mainland, and Italy. Beyond technological behaviour and tool-related activity, establishing the palaeogeographical setting of the Palaeolithic sites on Lefkas is the second aim of the study. We integrate data from geological fieldwork and a literature review to describe the evolution of the physical landscape and identify the geological mechanisms underlying the Neanderthal geography of Lefkas. Pleistocene sources of standing water emerge as locales attracting Neanderthals repeatedly over time. These, combined with caves and other localities, all elements of a complex terrain, were the settings of social encounter and interaction. Due to residential mobility and seasonal movements, the Middle Palaeolithic settlement of Lefkas is more productively approached as part of the Inner Ionian rim, whose archaeology is gradually evolving.


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