Traces of human activities in Kapova cave (the Southern Urals, Russia)
Vladislav Zhitenev  1@  
1 : Lomonosov Moscow State University  (MSU)  -  Site web
GSP-1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation -  Russie

Kapova cave (Shulgan-Tash) is located in the Southern Urals (Bashkiria, Russia). The cave consists of system of halls and galleries at three hypsometrical levels, the lowest of which is occupied by the river Shulgan. Upper Palaeolithic wall paintings are preserved on the middle and the upper levels. They are represented by figures of mammoths, horses, rhinoceros, bison, camel, fish, zooantropomorph, geometrical signs and spots (including color marks and traces of splashes). The archaeological research in the cave was conducted by O.N. Bader (1960-1981) and V.E. Shchelinsky (1982-1991). The Southern Urals archaeological expedition of Lomonosov Moscow State University started to work at Kapova cave in 2008. Radiocarbon dating of the upper part of Upper Paleolithic archaeological layers in the cave showed the interval between 13930±300 (GIN-4853) and 16010±100 (KN-5023) BP (cal. 17000-19000). Archaeological research have revealed traces of short-term human activity in the cave, which was expressed in symbolic/ritual activities and daily activities/everyday household practices.

Upper paleolithic cultural layers and horizons of visiting have been investigated. A special part of the archaeological complex in Kapova cave is represented by traces of human activity, preserved on the floor of the cave and not covered by deposits. Different evidences of numerous human activites in the cave are fixed. Studying of various points in chambers with painting has shown that archaeological evidences of repeated visiting sometimes are connected with places of a considerable concentration of wall paintings. Traces of manipulations with colorants, fixed far from the wall paintings, are significantly different from those found next to them. There is an opportunity to divide traces of manipulation with colorants on symbolic and daily activities.

Traces of passes and stops are fixed in front of the well between the middle and upper floors (13 m deep). Fragments of broken away stalactites, stalagmites and stones with calcite, brought from another chambers, have been found in different archaeological contexts.

Summarizing results of researches of different years, it is possible to say that different Upper paleolithic cultural layers and horizons of visiting, and a wide range of different traces of human activity in the cave represent various functional zones which enough differ on character of the archeological materials.

Kapova cave is a sacred place of Bashkir-Burzyan our days. Practices of using cave clay and stalactites deposits as a means of traditional medicine is being studied.



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