John W. Olsen

John W. Olsen
The University of Arizona | UA · School of Anthropology

PhD

About

136
Publications
32,678
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2,449
Citations
Citations since 2017
53 Research Items
1215 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250

Publications

Publications (136)
Article
Full-text available
Stratified Middle Paleolithic industries in Mongolia are mostly known from final Middle Paleolithic complexes in the Orkhon and Kharganyn Gol valleys in the north-central part of the country, while Middle Paleolithic complexes from Tsagaan Agui have not attracted as much attention. Re-analysis of archaeological collections made during excavations o...
Article
This article examines the formation processes of combustion features at the Orkhon 7 Paleolithic site in central Mongolia, employing a new multifaceted approach that combines spatial analysis with computer learning and micro-charcoal analysis. We analyzed material from excavations conducted in the 1980s (Archaeological Horizon 3 in Pits 2 and 3) an...
Article
China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has long been a vital link between Europe and eastern Asia. Xinjiang’s geographical location and natural environment have led to unique dietary habits and traditions among both the region’s modern inhabitants as well as their ancient forebears. Here, we report on the analysis of human dental residue samples...
Article
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Beginning in the Middle Palaeolithic, human populations penetrated areas of Central Asia that are today characterised by extremely arid conditions. Mongolia's Gobi Desert comprises one such region. Tsagaan Agui Cave presents an example of the later Pleistocene occupation of this area, containing stratified evidence of diachronic, intense human and...
Article
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The Dingsishan Site, located in Nanning City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is one of the most important Neolithic archaeological sites in the Lingnan region of China’s southeastern seaboard. Plant microfossil remains recovered from excavated artifacts and human teeth suggest that the site’s ancient inhabitants practiced a subsistence system ba...
Article
Upper Palaeolithic microlithic complexes in Northeast Asia are usually included in the spectrum of non-geometric industries. Mongolia, which is considered a possible crossroads of Middle and Upper Paleolithic migration routes due to its environmental and geographic conditions, is the only exception in this vast region. The Tolbor cluster of sites i...
Article
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Throughout the arid lands of Africa and Eurasia, camelids facilitated the expansion of human populations into areas that would not likely have been habitable without the transportation abilities of this animal along with the organic resources it provides, including dung, meat, milk, leather, wool, and bones. The two-humped, Bactrian, species of Cam...
Article
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When studying bone retouchers, researchers pay close attention to the morphological characteristics of the tool's active zone, and the lithic raw material processed. In our research, we found that the orientation of the bone retoucher in the hand and the grip employed to retain and manipulate it are crucial factors that affect the morphological cha...
Article
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The Liangwangcheng site, located in Pizhou County, Xuzhou City, northern Jiangsu Province, is one of the most important Neolithic Dawenkou Culture archeological sites in the Haidai area of China’s eastern seaboard. In recent years, archaeobotanical studies in the Haidai area, mainly focusing on Shandong Province, have yielded fruitful results, whil...
Article
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Here, we present initial results of a new course of research being carried out at the Moiltyn-am, Orkhon-1, and Orkhon-7 Paleolithic sites in the Orkhon River Valley, central Mongolia. Our research focuses on the Moiltyn-am site, which preserves a cultural and chronological sequence from the Final Middle to the Late Upper Paleolithic. Results from...
Article
Northern East Asia was inhabited by modern humans as early as 40 thousand years ago (ka), as demonstrated by the Tianyuan individual. Using genome-wide data obtained from 25 individuals dated to 33.6–3.4 ka from the Amur region, we show that Tianyuan-related ancestry was widespread in northern East Asia before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). At the...
Article
The Dayao Paleolithic site, located in Inner Mongolia on the eastern margin of China's vast northwestern drylands, was a lithic quarry-workshop utilized by Pleistocene human migrants through the region. Determining the age of this activity has previously yielded controversial results. Our magnetostratigraphic and OSL dating results suggest the two...
Article
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In Paleolithic archaeology, there are two dichotomous perspectives on so-called splintered pieces, or pieces esquillées, in which, depending upon archaeological context and the availability and quality of lithic of raw material, such pieces are considered bipolar cores or tools for processing organic materials. Here, we discuss for the first time f...
Article
Tsagaan Agui Cave, situated in Tsagaan Tsakhir limestone massif in the Gobi Altai Mountains of southern Mongolia, is the one of the rare stratified Holocene archaeological sites known in the Gobi Desert. During 1995-2000 excavation campaigns, cultural material spanning the late Bronze Age through the ethnographic present was recovered. In 2021, an...
Article
Middle and Upper Paleolithic human migrations and dispersals throughout Central Asia are usually associated with middle altitudes and mild steppe and forest-steppe environments with herds of large game mammals. However, since at least the Middle Paleolithic, human populations penetrated areas of Central Asia characterized by extreme arid climatic a...
Article
Ostrich eggshell bead-making appears relatively early in regions inhabited by ostriches. This type of personal ornamentation emerged in Central Asia together with human populations associated with the laminar Initial Upper Paleolithic culture about 45,000 uncal BP or slightly earlier. Eggshell beads and pendants occur in Central Asia until the Midd...
Article
В статье рассматриваются результаты нового цикла исследований палеолитических памятников в долине р. Орхон (Центральная Монголия) — Мойлтын ам, Орхон-1, Орхон-7. Основное внимание уделяется памятнику Мойлтын ам, материалы которого представляют культурно-стратиграфическую последовательность от финального среднего до позднего верхнего палеолита. Полу...
Article
Chronological sequences of Quaternary terrestrial mammalian faunas can provide important information about the evolutionary history of mammals, regional biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental changes. Here we report the results of studies of a thick, nearly-continuous sedimentary sequence from Jinyuan Cave, in Liaoning Province, northeast China; th...
Article
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Little is known about the acquisition and transport of rare or “exotic” raw materials in the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP). A recently discovered perforated muscovite (mica) flakelet at the Kharganyn Gol 5 site in the middle Selenga Basin of Mongolia raises the question of how far ancient humans ranged to access this material. Here, we present th...
Article
Archaeological sites with unclear conditions of sediment accumulation and stratigraphic disturbances are always complicated to research. Usually other sites in the region with better preservation of cultural layers helps to understand and divide them into cultural chronological stages. However lack of such sites results in the need to find other ap...
Article
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Well-stratified Middle Palaeolithic assemblages are extremely rare in Mongolia. Initially investigated between the 1960s and 1990s, three major Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Orkhon Valley of central Mongolia yielded a large quantity of data and generated many research questions that still await answers. Re-investigation of these sites has uncove...
Article
Here, we discuss the earliest microblade sites in China and the development of microblade technology in greater Northeast Asia. The Xishahe site was discovered in Huliu River terrace deposits in the Nihewan Basin, North China. Chronometric dating indicates the site was first occupied ca. 29–28 ka cal BP, while the microblade remains date to about 2...
Article
The Tibetan Plateau is the highest and one of the most demanding environments ever inhabited by humans. We investigated the timing and mechanisms of its initial colonization at the Nwya Devu site, located nearly 4600 meters above sea level. This site, dating from 40,000 to 30,000 years ago, is the highest Paleolithic archaeological site yet identif...
Article
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Archeological studies of coastal sites have yielded a large body of information regarding the dispersal of modern humans from Africa and the coastal adaptations of various hominin groups. Coastal areas have been attractive to humans since at least the late Middle Pleistocene, according to research conducted in Africa and the circum‐Mediterranean re...
Conference Paper
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Mongolia is well known for its history of nomadic pastoralism and Bronze and Early Iron Age burials and monuments. It wasn't until later in the Iron Age that the first large fortified towns and urban centers were built by the Uygher and Khitan Khanates. One of these, Baibalyk is believed to have been established in 758 CE by the Uygher khagan, Baya...
Article
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Situated between the Altai Mountains and the Chinese Loess Plateau, the current territory of Mongolia played a pivotal role in Pleistocene human population dynamics in Northeast Asia with archaeological evidence suggesting the existence of cultural links with southern Siberia beginning in the Late Pleistocene. Here, we present preliminary results f...
Book
The Handbook of East and Southeast Asian Archaeology focuses on the material culture and lifeways of the peoples of prehistoric and early historic East and Southeast Asia; their origins, behavior and identities as well as their biological, linguistic and cultural differences and commonalities. Emphasis is placed upon the interpretation of material...
Article
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In the Northern Hemisphere, the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is recognized as a cold and dry period that marks the maximum southward extension of the Scandinavian Inlands in Europe. In Asia, the ice sheet did not expand from the Arctic into Siberia, yet the LGM had a significant impact at high latitudes and elevations, as well as in regions with a co...
Article
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The Asian Monsoon, which brings ~80% of annual precipitation to much of the Tibetan Plateau, provides runoff to major rivers across the Asian continent. Paleoclimate records indicate summer insolation and North Atlantic paleotemperature changes forced variations in monsoon rainfall through the Holocene, resulting in hydrologic and ecologic changes...
Article
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The Asian Monsoon, which brings ∼80% of annual precipitation to much of the Tibetan Plateau, provides runoff to major rivers across the Asian continent. Paleoclimate records indicate summer insolation and North Atlantic paleotemperature changes forced variations in monsoon rainfall through the Holocene, resulting in hydrologic and ecologic changes...
Article
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Here, we present technological, typological and morphological analyses of the Pleistocene lithic assemblages excavated from Horizons 3-2.5 of the multicomponent Chikhen-2 site located on the southern piedmont of the Gobi Altai Range, southern Mongolia. Descriptions of geomorphology, stratigraphy, and archaeological finds are given, along with an an...
Article
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Archaeological evidence from the Chang Tang Reserve suggests that humans may have first colonized the Tibetan Plateau during the late Pleistocene. Blade, bladelet and microblade technologies are found as surface assemblages in a variety of contexts above 4500 m elevation. The lack of modern analogues for foraging populations in high-elevation envir...
Article
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This paper examines choices of earth-working tools made by Neolithic Chinese populations. In the Hemudu Culture (7000–5000 B.P.), bone (scapula) digging tools were used from the earliest times, whereas peoples in surrounding areas used stone spades. A range of experiments on manufacturing costs, durability, and use efficiency under realistic condit...
Article
The transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic and the global diffusion of modern human populations remain hotly debated topics. The timing and pace of the transition in China are especially uncertain. This paper examines spatial and temporal variation among Paleolithic assemblages in North China dated to Marine Isotope Stage 3. There are tHIOmain...
Article
Microlithic artifacts, some found in situ, are abundant in the Zhongba archaeological site in southwestern Tibet. The site environment consists of extant wetlands and paleo-wetland deposits found in depressions between sand dunes derived from the Yarlung Tsangpo floodplain. Constraining 14C dates from wetland vegetation and shell from one site fall...
Article
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We present a shoreline-based, millennial-scale record of lake-level changes spanning 12.8–2.3 ka for a large closed-basin lake system on the southwestern Tibetan Plateau. Fifty-three radiocarbon and eight U–Th series ages of tufa and beach cement provide age control on paleoshorelines ringing the basin, supplemented by nineteen ages from shell and...
Article
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Based on regularly retouched tools recovered from the Early Upper Paleolithic Tolbor-4 and Tolbor-15 sites in the Khangai Mountains of northern Mongolia, we reconstruct the development of cores from large bidirectional forms for the production of elongated blades to flat unidirectional and orthogonal nuclei. Blanks also became progressively smaller...
Article
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10 Be-26 Al cosmogenic surface exposure, optically stimulated luminescence, and radiocarbon dates from the site of Xidatan 2 (∼4300 m above sea level [asl] in the Kunlun Pass, northern Tibetan Plateau) suggest the site was in-termittently and briefly occupied approximately 9200–6400 yr B.P. This age is substantially younger than expected given the...
Data
10 Be-26 Al cosmogenic surface exposure, optically stimulated luminescence, and radiocarbon dates from the site of Xidatan 2 (∼4300 m above sea level [asl] in the Kunlun Pass, northern Tibetan Plateau) suggest the site was in-termittently and briefly occupied approximately 9200–6400 yr B.P. This age is substantially younger than expected given the...
Article
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For decades, the so-called Peking Man (Homo erectus pekinensis) at Zhoukoudian has been considered to be a hominin that engaged in the controlled production and management of fire. However, relatively recent analyses have cast doubt on this assertion. The most compelling reason for this doubt was the absence of siliceous aggregates in the Zhoukoudi...
Book
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The goal of the Northern Railways Archaeological Project (NRAP) was to develop a predictive model of archaeological site location that could be used to assess the archaeological potential of the railway corridor and help determine where additional baseline surveys should be conducted. To be used as a compliance tool, the predictive model needed to...
Article
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This article reports on materials excavated and analyzed since 2008 at the multi-component open-air Tolbor-15 Site (Selenge River basin, northern Mongolia). Also discussed are problems of chronology and periodization of the Mongolian Upper Paleolithic based on radiocarbon dating, including new determinations available for the Tolbor-4 and 15 sites,...
Article
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The paper reports the results of an analysis of surface collections of artifacts made at the Luotuoshi site in Dzungaria, Xinjiang, northwest China. The site was discovered in 2004 by a joint Chinese-Russian-American archaeological expedition. A techno-typological analysis of the artifacts was carried out noting aeolian abrasion of the artifacts’ s...