(Chapter III, section 7)

Mesolithic man in the Crimea

From Ofnet eastward, Mesolithic Europe is a blank until we reach the Crimea, for in all the intervening territory, no human remains of this period have been found and described. In the small cave of Murzak Koba,28 near the Crimean village of Chorgun, Soviet archaeologists have found two skeletons crushed under heavy stones which fell from the roof. One is masculine, the other feminine.

The man from Murzak Koba was tall (180 cm.); long headed, large headed, with heavy browridges, and heavy superior oblique ridges on the occiput. The configuration of the nasion region, with a depressed root, is typical of Upper Palaeolithic European man; while the orbits are extremely low and wide. The face is wider than the Upper Palaeolithic mean, and longer. Murzak Koba man was, without any question, a survival of the eastern European Upper Palaeolithic type into Mesolithic times. His female companion apparently represented the feminine version of the same race.

The cultural equipment of this couple consisted of flint implements and bone harpoons of Mesolithic type. The bearing of these two skeletons on the general problem of Mesolithic diffusion is that an entry of Mesolithic culture and race into Europe from a point this far east is rendered a little less likely.

This does not, of course, affect in any way the possibility of an entrance by way of the Balkans; but extensive reconnaissance work in Jugoslavia has failed to locate any Mesolithic horizon there.29 We are again forced to the conclusion that the bulk of the Mesolithic influences, both cultural and physical, which entered Europe after the retreat of the glacier came into that continent over the Straits of Gibraltar,30 a conclusion which may, of course, need revision as new evidence shall come to light.31


28 Field, Henry, AA, vol. 39, 1937, p. 468.

29 Fewkes, V. J, BASP, #9, 1933, pp. 17—32.

30 Italy must be rejected as a likely avenue of entry, since the culture of that peninsula during the entire Upper Palaeolithic was the Grimaldian, a local form of Aurignacian, which persisted, without a Solutrean or Magdalenian interlude, until Mesolithic times, and even through them to the Neolithic, with only a minor microlithic influence. Greenlee R. F., The Association and Interrelation of the Microlithic Cultures of Europe and Africa (privately printed), 1935, pp. 28—31.

31 Bonch-Osmolovskii, G., reports the discovery of another Mesolithic skeleton from the Crimea, buried in a crouching position. He states that it is earlier than Murzak Koba and is not of "Crô-Magnon" type. Quoted by Field, H., AA, vol. 39, 1937, p. 467.