The interdisciplinary project deals with adaptive strategies of glacial hunter-gatherers around the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The starting point for the studies in the Lower Austrian Danube region is the Kammern-Grubgraben field site.
The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ca. 24,000–19,000 cal BP) was, in contrast to common opinion, a period of relative climatic stability and again increasing human populations. The most inhospitable conditions of the entire Upper Palaeolithic were far more prevalent during the preceding late Gravettian (ca. 29,000–25,000 cal BP). During this period the hunter-gatherer communities of the northern latitudes were subjected to serious subsistence stress. The focus of the project lies on a find-site cluster in Austria, Moravia and southern Poland which – although only sparsely populated – was not subjected to a population collapse during this unfavourable climatic phase, in contrast to other regions to the north of 50°N. This observation raises a number of questions: What made the region special, and what adaptive strategies did its inhabitants develop? In order to address these questions, we compare the environmental conditions and the archaeological evidence of the LGM with those of the early Gravettian, a period of cultural flourishing and comparably favourable climatic circumstances. We combine archaeological analyses (e.g., from lithic and organic work tools), osteoarchaeological information as well as data on sedimentology and the palaeo-environment (geochemistry, stabile isotope analysis, molluscs etc.). An innovative aspect of this project is the close correlation of on-site data for archaeology and the palaeo-environment for a key region of the LGM in Central Europe, in a diachronic perspective. Particular attention will be paid here to the following questions: What differences in the environmental conditions can be perceived between the early Gravettian and the LGM, and how did the spectrum of prey alter due to changes in temperatures and available moisture? What are the specific adaptations made by the hunter-gatherers during the LGM in comparison to those of the early Gravettian? This interdisciplinary approach allows deeper insights into the dynamics of human populations and adaptive strategies of hunter-gatherers.