Fauna from the Eneolithic Mortuary Site of Verteba Cave, Ukraine

Author(s): Sarah Heins; Jordan Karsten

Year: 2015


Animals associated with human burials provide insight into mortuary rituals of ancient groups. This study is the examination of faunal remains from Verteba Cave (3,951- 2,620 cal BC), a site in western Ukraine associated with the latest period of Eneolithic Tripolye-Cucuteni (TC) culture. Relative abundances of taxa were compared to published data from other TC sites. Remains from red deer and cattle are the most frequent fauna of the Verteba Cave assemblage. The sample also has a high percentage of dog, fox, hare, and bird relative to assemblages from settlement sites. Osteological remains of birds are rarely found, suggesting their lack of importance in subsistence economy. Their presence at Verteba Cave, along with relatively high frequencies of fox, hare, and dog indicate that these fauna may be important to mortuary ritual of the TC. Clay figurines of bulls, sheep, pigs, and birds, and ceramic depictions of dogs, bulls, deer, and birds are commonly reported in middle and late TC periods. These results suggest the importance of birds in TC mythology, and also highlight the significance of dogs in mortuary context. Fox and hare may also be important to mortuary rituals, but less important symbolically.

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Fauna from the Eneolithic Mortuary Site of Verteba Cave, Ukraine. Sarah Heins, Jordan Karsten. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397709)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;