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5. Results

5.1 Middle Palaeolithic

The SVP chipped stone artefacts have been studied by Dr William Parkinson of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2004 during a reconnaissance trip to Shala we found two Middle Palaeolithic chipped-stone tools (L001 and L002) in a road bed just south of the neighbourhood of Nderlysaj (SVP Site 001; Figure 3). An additional four artefacts (L003, L004, L005, L006) were found in 2005. The Levallois technique is represented in at least two artefacts - L001, a multiple tool (sidescraper and notch) on a Levallois flake/core, and L006, a typical Levallois discoidal flake core. The remainder of the assemblage includes multiple tools, side-scrapers, notches, and end-scrapers. Although the assemblage is very small, the types represented are typical of Levallois-Mousterian assemblages in the greater region (Galaty 2006; Runnels et al. 2004). The setting suggests an interglacial occupation, perhaps during OIS 5 (c. 135-115 kya). Several additional Middle Palaeolithic stone tools were found in other parts of Shala, including at or near SVP Site 006 (L010) and in lower Shala, south of Site 001.

Following Runnels and van Andel (2003), Galaty (2006, 29) has argued that the Neanderthals who visited Shala were partial-logistical foragers. They likely operated in very large home ranges and exploited a broad range of environments, stretching from the Adriatic coast inland to the high mountains. They probably occupied Shala for short periods in the summer in order to hunt and gather and had almost no impact on the landscape. They would have accessed the valley from the south via the Drin River, which runs from Shkodra on the coast to Kosova on the interior and must have been a major migratory game route (see Fig. 1). There are several Palaeolithic sites near Shkodra, including the cave site at Gajtan (Fistani 1989; 1993; cf. Korkuti 1995), which includes a substantial Middle Palaeolithic component. It is quite possible that the Neanderthals who visited Shala spent winters farther south, at a lower altitude, and close to the coast. This being the case, the lines of transportation and communication that linked Shala to the outside world in later times were established early on. Neanderthals lived lives that may have been socially isolated - i.e., in small bands of related individuals that rarely interacted, operating in large territories - but they were certainly not geographically isolated as were the Modern, tribal, residents of Shala.

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Last updated: Thu Feb 25 2010