On the evolution of diet and landscape during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave (Peloponnese, Greece)

Mary C. Stiner, Natalie D. Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


Franchthi Cave in southern Greece preserves one of the most remarkable records of socioeconomic change of the Late Pleistocene through early Holocene. Located on the southern end of the Argolid Peninsula, the area around the site was greatly affected by climate variation and marine transgression. This study examines the complex interplay of site formation processes (material deposition rates), climate-driven landscape change, and human hunting systems during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave based on the H1B faunal series. Building on earlier work, we establish the full spectrum of the meat diet using taphonomic evidence, and we analyze these data for trends in socioeconomic reorganization. Foraging patterns during the Aurignacian and " Gravettoid" occupations at Franchthi were terrestrial and already rather diversified in comparison to Middle Paleolithic diets in southern Greece. Hunting shifted abruptly to a mixed marine-terrestrial pattern during the Final Paleolithic, and fishing activities intensified though the Mesolithic. The zooarchaeological data indicate two consecutive trends of increasing dietary breadth, the first within an exclusively terrestrial context, and the second as marine habitats came into use through the end of the Mesolithic. The intensity of the human occupations at this site increased in tandem with intensified use of animal and plants. Comparison to the inland site of Klissoura Cave 1 indicates that the trend toward broader diets was regional as well as local.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-636
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011



  • Diet breadth
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Marine foraging
  • Prey choice model
  • Site formation processes
  • Vertebrate taphonomy
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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