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Subdivisions of the Quaternary period
System Series Stage Age (Ma)
Quaternary Holocene 0–0.0117
Pleistocene Tarantian (Upper) 0.0117–0.126
Ionian (Middle) 0.126–0.781
Calabrian (Lower) 0.781–1.806
Gelasian (Lower) 1.806–2.588
Neogene Pliocene Piacenzian older
In Europe and North America, the Holocene is subdivided into Preboreal, Boreal, Atlantic, Subboreal and Subatlantic stages of the Blytt-Sernander time scale. There are many regional subdivisions for the Upper or Late Pleistocene, usually these represent locally recognized cold (glacial) and warm (interglacial) periods. The last glacial period ends with the cold Younger Dryas substage.
Venus of Lespugue
These venus figurines are typical of the Gravettian culture.
Burins similar to these are characteristic diagnostic artifacts typical of the digs attributed to the Gravettian culture.

The Gravettian toolmaking culture was a specific archaeological industry of the European Upper Palaeolithic era prevalent before the last glacial epoch. It is named after the type site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied. It dates from between 28,000 and 22,000 years ago and where found, succeeded the artifacts datable to the Aurignacian culture.

The diagnostic characteristic artifacts of the industry are small pointed restruck blade with a blunt but straight back, a carving tool known as a Noailles burin. (See to compare with similar purposed modern tool: burin)

Artistic achievements of the Gravettian cultural stage include the hundreds of Venus figurines, which are widely distributed in Europe. The industry had counterparts across central Europe and into Russia, as did the predecessor culture, which is also linked to similar figurines and carvings.

Contents

Gravettian culture

A phase (c.28,000–23,000 ya) of the European Upper Paleolithic that is characterized by a stone-tool industry with small pointed blades used for big-game hunting (bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth). People in the Gravettian period also used nets to hunt small game. For more information on hunting see Animal Usage in the Gravettian. It is divided into two regional groups: the western Gravettian, mostly known from cave sites in France, and the eastern Gravettian, with open sites of specialized mammoth hunters on the plains of central Europe and Russia.

In literature

Artifacts and technologies of this and the preceding Aurignacian culture figure centrally in the romanticized adaptation of the culture in the popular fictional pre-history depicted in the Earth's Children novel series which leans heavily on archeological finds and theories from this era. In the series, the Venus figurines are central to a fertility rite and worship of "The Great Earth Mother", a nature spirit from which all life flows.

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