VITA ANTIQUA, ISSN 2522-9419 (Online), 2519-4542 (Print)
Center for Paleoethnological Research
VITA ANTIQUA 10, 2018, Prehistoric Networks in Southern and Eastern Europe, 25-37
The Køkkenmødding of Eastern Ukraine
Institute of Archaeology of the NASU
Køkkenmødding, or kitchen/shell middens, are archaeological sites, are characterized by the presence of waste in the form of heaps of shells mixed with animal bones, ceramics, flints etc. Although historically the term kokkenmodding, which was used first by Danish biologist J. Japetus Steenstrup, is associated with the Ertebolle culture (dating to the end of the Mesolithic), over the time, it has become more extensive. In this paper, this term is used to denote heaps of marine or freshwater mollusks that were formed as a result of human activity. Shell middens are widespread, mostly in coastal zones around the world – from Japan to Canada, and from Australia to Denmark. The paper is devoted to the concise analysis of sites with shell middens of the Eastern part of Ukraine, whose existence is fixed within the frames of the final Mesolithic-Neolithic and Early Copper Age. There are three types of shell midden known from Ukraine – these include marine, freshwater (river or lake) and terrestrial shell examples. Shell middens composed of marine shells are known from the shore of the Crimean peninsula and dating from the Copper Age to the Middle Bronze Age (Ardych Burun, Laspi-1, Gurzuf Castle etc.). Examples of shell middens with terrestrial shells are situated in the mountainous parts of Crimea and are associated with the Mesolithic Murzak Koba culture and Tash Air culture of Neolithic. Published examples include Murzak Koba layer 3, Shan Koba layer 3, Fatma Koba layer 4, Kukrek layer 3, Laspi-7. In this paper, I have focused on the use of freshwater mollusks by the ancient inhabitants of the middle stream of the Siversky Donets river basin. It should be noted that these are amongst the most northerly sites of this type in Eastern Ukraine. In this way, while the køkkenmødding tradition existed in Eastern Ukraine for almost 1700 years, its origins may be found among cultures to the south and southeastern, including the Northeastern Azov Sea region and the Lower Don river, where the Razdorskaya-2, Rakushechnii yar, and Matveyev Kurhan sites are situated.
Key words: køkkenmødding, shell middens, Eastern Ukraine, final Mesolithic, Neolithic, Early Copper Age