ArticlePDF Available

Truncated-faceted pieces in the paleolithic of northern Asia

Authors:
  • Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk, Russia
  • Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk, Russia

Abstract and Figures

Truncated-faceted pieces have been reported from many Paleolithic industries of Eurasia and Africa. In the latest decade, this category of artifacts was identified in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional and Early Upper Paleolithic industries of Northern Asia as well. The largest collection of truncated-faceted pieces in this region is associated with the Obi-Rakhmatian tradition, primarily with the Paleolithic industry of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, Uzbekistan. A detailed analysis of Obi-Rakhmatian truncatedfaceted pieces shows that despite unified morphometric characteristics, they could differ in function. A comparison of Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces with similar artifacts from nearby areas revealed their importance as a cultural and chronological marker of terminal Middle Paleolithic and early Upper Paleolithic industries in Northern Asia.
Content may be subject to copyright.
ARCHAEOLOGY,
ETHNOLOGY
& ANTHROPOLOGY
OF EURASIA
Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
E-mail: Eurasia@archaeology.nsc.ru
Copyright © 2016, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian
Academy of Sciences. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
doi:10.1016/j.aeae.2016.02.004
33
A.V. Shalagina, Ⱥ.I. Krivoshapkin, and K.Ⱥ. Kolobova
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
E-mail: aliona.shalagina@yandex.ru; shapkin@archaeology.nsc.ru; kolobovak@yandex.ru
TRUNCATED-FACETED PIECES
IN THE PALEOLITHIC OF NORTHERN ASIA*
Truncated-faceted pieces have been reported from many Paleolithic industries of Eurasia and Africa. In the latest
decade, this category of artifacts has also been identi¿ ed as belonging to the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional
and Early Upper Paleolithic industries of Northern Asia. The largest collection of such pieces in this region is associated
with the Obi-Rakhmatian, primarily of the Paleolithic industry of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, Uzbekistan. A detailed
analysis of Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces shows that despite uni¿ ed morphometric characteristics, they
could differ in function. A comparison of these pieces with similar artifacts from nearby areas reveals their importance
as a cultural and chronological marker of the terminal Middle Paleolithic and early Upper Paleolithic industries in
Northern Asia.
Keywords: Terminal Middle Paleolithic, early Upper Paleolithic, Northern Asia, truncated-faceted pieces.
Introduction
The issues of establishing reliable criteria for recognition
of possible links between the compared assemblages
are accompanied by other important issues in the study
of evolutionary processes, migrations, and population
interactions during the Paleolithic. Several approaches
to establishing these criteria have been proposed in
scienti¿ c literature (Vishnyatsky, 2004: 42; Anikovich,
Anisyutkin, Vishnyatsky, 2007: 22–25; Derevianko,
2009: 6–8). One of the main approaches is the
establishment of “index fossils” or “tool-markers”
within the technocomplex (Rybin, 2000, 2014). Various
tool-types (including speci¿ c carinated burins and end-
scrapers, points with thinned bases, and others) can
*Supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Project No.
14-50-00036).
serve as tool-markers (Burins préhistoriques…, 2006:
23–35; Le Brun-Ricalens, 2006; Dinnis, 2008; Rybin,
2014). Truncated-faceted pieces are also included
in the list of “tool-markers”. These tools have been
reported from various regions, including Northern
Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, the Near East, the
Caucasus, and the Russian Plain (Leakey, 1931: 99–
100, 202, 216; McPherron, Dibble, 2000; Otte, 1980;
Nishiaki, 1985; Lyubin, Dzhafarov, 1986; Nekhoroshev,
1999); and also in Northern Asia (Krivoshapkin, 2012;
Rybin, Kolobova, 2005–2009). Such tools are quite
typical of many Paleolithic industries, yet they lack
clear typological de¿ nition, and often implements with
different morphometric features are grouped into a single
category.
The present paper is focused on comprehensive
analysis of truncated-faceted pieces from the Obi-
Rakhmatian technocomplexes. These assemblages
PALEOENVIRONMENT. THE STONE AGE
34 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
contain numerous tools of this type, demonstrating
standard metric features and typology, which allows us
to regard them as chronological and cultural markers of
the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional industries in
Northern Asia.
Historiographical context
L. Leakey was the first to mention the tools with
morphological features similar to those of the truncated-
faceted pieces in his description of the Kenya Capsian
Upper Paleolithic culture. Analyzing the artifacts
from Gamble’s Cave II, he identi¿ ed a set of tools on
blades with roughly prepared working edges that were
perpendicular to the long axes of the spalls. On the
basis of their presumed function, Leakey identified
these tools as “sinew frayers”, as he noticed that in
some modern Kenyan tribes people processed animal
sinews with similar tools, decomposing the sinews
into fibers (Leakey, 1931: 99–100, 160–163). Later,
M. Newcomer and F. Hivernel-Guerre analyzed this
collection and identi¿ ed the artifacts under discussion as
cores, on the basis of the observed technological context.
Small spalls from such cores could have been used for
the manufacture of geometric microliths (Newcomer,
Hivernel-Guerre, 1974).
The term “truncated-faceted pieces” was proposed in
the course of study of Levantine Mousterian. B. Schroeder
(1966) was the ¿ rst to identify and describe these artifacts
from the site of Jerf-Ajla in Syria. Later, they were
also reported from other Mousterian sites in the region
(Solecki R.S., Solecki R.A., 1970; Nishiaki, 1985; Crew,
1975). Rose and Ralph Solecki identi¿ ed the truncated-
faceted technique on the basis of artifact assemblage
from the Nahr Ibrahim Cave Site, Lebanon (Fig. 1, 1, 2);
this technique could be used for various purposes
(creation of speci¿ c edge-form, preparation of hafts). In
some cases, such pieces served as cores. According to this
approach, researchers recognized six types of truncated-
faceted pieces (Solecki R.S., Solecki R.A., 1970).
Several possible interpretations of such artifacts (thinning
technique for fastening in a haft, speci¿ c core-types) were
proposed by Yoshihiro Nishiaki on the example of the
artifact-collection from Keoue Cave, Lebanon. However,
he precluded the possibility of using the truncated-faceted
technology for the purpose of forming a serrated working
edge (Nishiaki, 1985).
H. Dibble and S. McPherron examined collections
of artifacts from the sites of Bisitun in Iran (Fig. 1, 3, 4),
Fig. 1. Truncated-faceted pieces.
1, 2 – Nahr Ibrahim, Lebanon (after (Solecki R.S., Solecki R.A., 1970: 141, ¿ g. 1)); 3, 4 – Bisitun, Zagros (after (Dibble, 1984: 28, ¿ g. 3));
5, 6 – Taghlar, Caucasus (after (Lyubin, Dzhafarov, 1986: 76, ¿ g. 1)); 7–9 – Obi-Rakhmat, Uzbekistan.
03 cm
1
2
3
4
5
6
789
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 35
Pech de L’Azé IV, and La Cotte de St. Brelade in France.
They analyzed the obtained data with respect to existing
hypotheses on the function of truncated-faceted pieces,
and inferred that these artifacts were cores, from which
small spalls had been removed (Dibble, McPherron,
2007). The category of truncated-faceted pieces was also
recognized within the artifact-collections of Warwasi
(Dibble, Holdaway, 1993), Shanidar (Solecki, 1954), and
Kunji (Baumler, Speth, 1993) in Zagros. Y. Demidenko
and V. Usik analyzed the artifacts from Tor Faraj Cave,
Jourdan, from a technological point of view, and pointed
out re¿ ttable truncated-faceted pieces and Levallois spalls
(Demidenko, Usik, 2003).
In general, it should be noted that in the Middle
Paleolithic assemblages of the Near East, truncated-
faceted pieces have never been considered either as the
“index fossils” or the cultural markers. Most probably,
this is connected with vast distribution of these artifacts
over the region throughout the long chronological
period (Hovers, 2007). Their occurrence was explained
by the lack of lithic raw materials and by the special
strategies of mobility of prehistoric people (Wallace,
Shea, 2006).
The Russian scientific literature, the terms
“platform-” or “core-thinning technique” were broadly
used. Artifacts with morphological features similar to
those of the truncated-faceted pieces have been reported
from various Middle Paleolithic Caucasian sites:
Yerevan Cave in Armenia, Azykh Cave (Mousterian
stratum) and Taghlar Cave in Azerbaijan (Eritsyan,
1970, 1981; Guseinov, 2010; Lyubin, Dzhafarov, 1986).
A special category of side-scrapers that were thinned
throughout the entire surface via removing of À at facial
retouch spalls from one or several subsidiary striking
platforms was established within the Taghlar artifact
collection (Lyubin, Dzhafarov, 1986: 75). These tools
were identi¿ ed as Taghlar side-scrapers (Fig. 1, 5, 6).
Truncated-faceted pieces were also recognized within
the Crimean Mousterian technocomplexes (Veselsky,
2008; Demidenko, 2008).
P.E. Nekhoroshev, in his study of the Middle
Paleolithic sites of the Russian Plain, identified the
“Kostenki trimming” technique that implies core
longitudinal thinning of the dorsal surface of an artifact;
this technique was employed in fashioning the proto-
Kostenki knives and side-scrapers (Nekhoroshev, 1996).
Nekhoroshev argued that proto-Kostenki knives are quite
different from the true Kostenki knives, and received
their designation owing to a similar working technique.
However, while the Kostenki knives were trimmed
with the purpose of rejuvenating the sharp cutting edge
which was blunted during use (Belyaeva, 1977; Lev,
Klarik, Girya, 2009), the proto-Kostenki tools were
trimmed on the dorsal surface to produce a thinner body
(Nekhoroshev, 1999: 146). Many researchers considered
Kostenki knives as analogous to the Nahr Ibrahim cores
and sinew-frayers (Nishiaki, 1985; Schroeder, 2007;
Frick, 2012). However, analysis of artifacts from the
Zaraisk site has proven that the classic Kostenki knives
demonstrated a special technique of rejuvenation of the
working edge exclusively (Lev, Klarik, Girya, 2011:
248–251).
One of the largest collections of the truncated-
faceted pieces in Eurasia (219 spec.) has been
assembled at the Obi-Rakhmat site in Uzbekistan.
The artifacts of this type (Fig. 1, 7–9) were recovered
from almost all culture-bearing horizons of the site
(Krivoshapkin, 2012). Truncated-faceted pieces have
also been recovered from stratum 23 at the Kulbulak
site (Uzbekistan); they were attributed to the initial
stage of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional
Obi-Rakhmatian tradition (Krivoshapkin et al.,
2010). A total of 47 truncated-faceted pieces has been
discovered at the Khudji site (Tadzhikistan), which
was associated with the Obi-Rakhmatian late stage
(Krivoshapkin, 2012).
Truncated-faceted pieces have been reported from
many Stone Age artifact-collections from Eurasia and
Africa. However, their typology is still debatable,
possibly owing to the lack of any unanimously accepted
typological and categorical de¿ nition.
Truncated-faceted pieces
from the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto
The Obi-Rakhmat Grotto is a key site in studying
the terminal Middle Paleolithic and the Middle to Upper
Paleolithic transition in western Central Asia. The site
is situated 100 km to the northeast of Tashkent in the
Republic of Uzbekistan, 1250 m asl (Fig. 2). The site
was discovered in 1962 by the archaeological team
headed by A.R. Mukhamedzhanov from the Institute of
History and Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences
of the Republic of Uzbekistan (ASRU). The major
archaeological works, and publication of the research
data, were carried out in 1964–1965 (Suleimanov, 1972),
and in 1998–2012 under the joint research project of the
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of SB RAS
and the Institute of History and Archaeology of ASRU
(Derevianko et al., 1998; Krivoshapkin, Pavlenok,
Shnaider et al., 2012).
During the last stage of research at the site (1998–
2012), a total of 37 culture-bearing horizons was
identi¿ ed, which yielded various numbers of artifacts.
Available radiocarbon dates of the middle and upper
sedimentary units indicate an age of older than 40 ka
BP, while ESR and OSL-dates of the lowermost cultural
layers suggest an age of 70–80 ka BP (Krivoshapkin,
Kuzmin, Jull, 2010).
36 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
The Obi-Rakhmatian lithic industry was developed on
the basis of the Middle Paleolithic blade technology with
minor Levallois-like traits. The speci¿ c feature of the Obi-
Rakhmatian industry is the combination of the Middle
and Upper Paleolithic characteristics (both technological
and typological) observed in materials of all horizons of
the site (Krivoshapkin, 2012). Another important feature
is the occurrence of truncated-faceted pieces in almost
all the established culture-bearing horizons; the total
collection of these artifacts includes 219 specimens. The
majority of these artifacts (117 spec.) were associated
with the lowermost layers 21–19. This can be explained
by the larger area of exposure of the lowermost layers, and
also by the location of the excavation pits relative to the
grotto structure. The overlying layers 18–4 yielded only
31 truncated-faceted pieces.
The major forming elements of the Obi-Rakhmatian
truncated-faceted pieces have been established through
the attributive approach. This allowed determination of
their general morphological appearance (Fig. 3, 4): one
or several truncated-faceted surfaces were formed on a
rectangular or ovoid spall or spall-fragment; from these
surfaces, small removals were made, associated with the
blank ridges or aimed at À attening of the proximal end
of the blank. Trapezoidal, rectangular, square or ovoid
in shape, elongated spalls with thick cross-section were
used as blanks (in most cases, these were À akes; blades
and spall-fragments were rarely used).
The manufacturing process of a truncated-faceted
piece (Fig. 5) began with the preparation of the truncated
and retouched surface (or surfaces) that subsequently
served as a striking platform for several ¿ ne removals.
The truncated-faceted surface was fashioned on the
proximal or distal end of the spall, on the transversal
breakage surface, and sometimes on the longitudinal
edges of the blank. The surface was prepared through
various techniques: transverse faceting (see Fig. 3, 1, 5,
7, 10, 11), longitudinal-transverse retouching (see Fig. 3,
3, 6, 9, 13, 14), longitudinal removals reminiscent
of burin spalls (see Fig. 3, 4), and with several large,
transversal removals (see Fig. 4, 1, 2). Some artifacts do
not show traces of additional trimming. Other artifacts
exhibit À ake-scars on the residual striking platform of
the blank spall.
The majority of tools show considerable bevel (up
to 40–50°) of truncated-faceted surfaces towards the
surface from which subsequent À aking was carried out.
Other artifacts show signs of À aking from the unprepared
transversal breakage surface. The truncated-faceted
surface was used as a striking platform for removing
¿ ne À akes from the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the
blank. Some artifacts demonstrate traces of deliberate
retouch over the long edges. Any correlation between
the frequency of secondary trimming and the number
of striking platforms has not been recognized. Apart
from deliberate retouch, particular artifacts bear signs
Fig. 2. Map showing location of sites of the Obi-Rakhmatian trend of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic
transition in Central Asia.
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 37
Fig. 3. Truncated-faceted pieces from the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, layers 21–19.
03 cm
1
2
3
4
5
6
78
910 11
12
13
14
38 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
Fig. 4. Truncated-faceted pieces from the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, layers 18–4.
Fig. 5. Truncated-faceted pieces (TFP) reduction pattern.
03 cm
12
3
4
56
7
8
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 39
of utilization retouch, mostly over one of the
longitudinal edges; artifacts with double residual
platforms show utilization retouch over both
longitudinal sides.
Variability of truncated-faceted pieces
in the Obi-Rakhmatian lithic industries
In order to identify the reasons for typological
variability, the collection of truncated-faceted pieces
was subdivided into several classes: 1) single-
platform pieces with À ake-scars on either dorsal or
ventral surface (Fig. 6, 1); 2) double-platform pieces
with traces of opposite, alternating or longitudinal-
transversal flaking (Fig. 6, 2); 3) multi-platform
pieces bearing À ake-scars on one or two surfaces
(Fig. 6, 3). Some pieces were not included in any
of the above classes, because they had truncated-
faceted surfaces but did not show any À ake-scars.
These artifacts were classi¿ ed as blanks.
The majority of artifacts in the collection
represent single- and double-platform truncated-
faceted pieces. Single-platform varieties dominate
in the upper layers 18–4; while more deliberately
prepared double-platform pieces with opposite,
alternating and longitudinal-transversal flaking
(Fig. 7, 1) occur in the lower layers 21–19. With the
development of the industry, the spalls that shaped
the truncated-faceted surface became larger, and the
number of spalls decreased. The preparation of the
platform began with two or three longitudinal or
transversal removals (Fig. 7, 2). Also, the À aking
angle was changed: upper horizons yielded a greater
number of artifacts, in which the angle between the Fig. 6. Typological scheme of the truncated-faceted pieces under
study.
1
2
3
ɚb
c
ɚb
ɚb
Fig. 7. Distribution of the Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces by the number (1) and types (2) of striking platforms.
12
40 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
truncated platform and the À aking-surface varied from 70°
to 90° (Fig. 8, 1). This is possibly the result of less-than-
careful preparation of the striking platform.
The upper layers 18–4 yielded artifacts with greater
metric parameters. While the length of the majority of
artifacts associated with layers 21–19 varies in the range
of 29–62 mm, that of the artifacts from layers 18–4 is in
the range of 38–70 mm. A similar trend was noted for the
thickness of the artifacts: the range of values increases
from 7–18 mm (layers 21–19) to 10–20 mm (layers 18–4),
whereas the width of tools in all industries of the Grotto
varied from 22 to 51 mm. Thus, the truncated-faceted
pieces became elongated and massive up the profile
(Fig. 8, 2).
Calculations on À ake-scars have shown that up to 15
À akes (in most cases, from three to eight) were removed
from a single blank. Mostly À akes and bladelets were
detached. In the lower horizons (21–19), negative scars
occupy from 1/6 to 1/3 of the total length of a tool, while
in the upper layers (18–4) they occupy around a half, or
more; in addition, negative scars in the upper layers are
larger in size.
The proportion of truncated-faceted pieces bearing
retouch along the longitudinal edges decreases
considerably in the upper layers (18–4) in comparison
with the lower. Here, the retouch is observed on only one
lateral side, while in the lower layers (21–19) it most often
occurs on both the sides.
It can be concluded that despite the similarity in
general morphological features of the truncated-faceted
pieces associated with upper layers (see Fig. 4) and
lower layers (see Fig. 3) in the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto,
the developmental trend was towards simpli¿ cation in
the fashioning of these pieces. Stone-knappers begin to
be less careful when choosing the blanks. Truncated-
faceted pieces start to be shaped on asymmetrical spalls
and spall-fragments. Pieces grow to be more massive,
yet no special thinning through detachments from
platform is made. Furthermore, the tools themselves and
the spalls from their truncated platforms become larger.
These inferences are true for the majority of truncated-
faceted pieces. However, assemblages from the upper
layers of the Grotto also contain solitary specimens that
are similar in their morphometric features to those from
lower layers.
Possible function
of the truncated-faceted pieces
The function of these artifacts has been long debated by
researchers. In the literature, three main hypotheses were
proposed: 1) technology of utilization of a core on spall;
2) technique of thinning of a tool for fastening it in a
haft; and 3) creation of a speci¿ c working-edge. Certain
scholars agree that the truncated-faceted technology
might have been used for several of the above-mentioned
purposes within a single lithic industry, depending on
the situation (Solecki R.S., Solecki R.A., 1970; Nishiaki,
1985).
The present authors believe that the observed metric
and morphological variability of truncated-faceted pieces
from the lower and upper layers of the Obi-Rakhmat
Grotto represents their functional specificity. Such
artifacts from the lower layers (21–19), in our opinion,
should be considered primarily as tools. This assumption
can be supported by the following:
1. The technology of manufacture of truncated-faceted
pieces is very similar to that of À at-core utilization; but
they were subject to occasional detachment of small
non-standard À akes and bladelets. On the other hand, the
technology of production of standard serial blanks from
À at cores on spalls was known in the Obi-Rakhmatian
lithic industry. Blanks similar to those detached from the
truncated-faceted pieces could be obtained from cores
with higher output (such as wedge-shaped cores for
bladelets, or carinated cores) (Krivoshapkin, Kolobova,
Belousova, Islamov, 2012).
Fig. 8. Distribution of the Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces by the À aking angle (1) and the thickness index (2).
12
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 41
2. Blanks detached from the truncated-
faceted pieces are different in size from
other implements in this tool kit. The
largest flake-scar on the truncated-
faceted surface does not exceed 25 mm,
while the length of flakes, on which
Obi-Rakhmatian tools were fashioned,
varies from 40 to 60 mm (Kolobova,
Krivoshapkin, Slavinsky, 2003). There
are no signs of systematic production of
bladelets from truncated-faceted pieces,
and treatment of bladelets in general is not
typical of the Obi-Rakhmatian industry.
3. In the course of thorough
examination of the flake-scars on the
surfaces of these pieces, it was noted that
special attention was given to the shaping
of a truncated-faceted edge. Sequence
analysis (Richter, 2001; Kot, 2014) has
shown that in some cases, reduction
was finished, not by flaking from the
truncated platform, but by removing the
spalls modifying its surface (Fig. 9, 7).
Furthermore, the Obi-Rakhmatian
collection contains pieces demonstrating
traces of detachment of tiny spalls as the
¿ nishing operation (Fig. 9, 11, 12), which
led to formation of a serrated working edge between the
À aking surface and the truncated-faceted surface (see
Fig. 3, 6, 10, 11, 13). Such tiny spalls could hardly be
used as blanks. Thorough analysis has shown that every
subsequent detachment from the striking platform was
made, not on the inter-facetted ridge of the preceding
scars, but at some distance from this ridge, resulting in
the formation of ¿ ne dents.
4. Some artifacts demonstrate the use of a technique
of alternate ¿ ne À aking on truncated-faceted surface and
on À aking surface, which also produced a serrated edge.
In this case, À aking on the truncated-faceted surface can
hardly be interpreted as surface-fashioning, because this
technique did not ensure successful À ake-removals.
In our view, the described features of treatment of
truncated-faceted pieces support the hypothesis that such
pieces were used for obtaining separate vegetable and
animal ¿ bers (Leakey, 1931: 100). Leakey’s observations,
as well as available ethnological data, indicated that ¿ bers
were mostly produced from the sinews from ungulates’
backs and extremities. This is well correlated with the
characteristics of faunal materials from the Obi-Rakhmat
Grotto containing abundant limb-bones of small- and
middle-sized ungulates (Wrinn, 2004). The hypothesis
as to production of vegetable ¿ bers by the inhabitants of
the Grotto is not well-grounded, as the available pollen
data suggest that during the period of sedimentation, this
region was dominated by dry steppe ecozone typical of
Fig. 9. Sequence of removals from a truncated-faceted piece from stratum 21
of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto.
the middle-elevated Tian Shan mountains (Derevianko
et al., 2001: 51–54).
The technology of fashioning of the majority of
truncated-faceted pieces from the upper layers (18–4) of
the Grotto is reminiscent of the process of utilization of
cores on spalls.
1. The upper horizons yielded artifacts massive in
cross-section (see Fig. 8, 2), and generally larger than
those from the lower layers. Some specimens show À ake-
scars of large and elongated spalls that could subsequently
be modi¿ ed into tools. Such scars occupy nearly a half of
the piece, and are sometimes 40 mm long; this generally
corresponds to the average length of tools on À akes (40–
60 mm) from the upper collection, and also of retouched
blade blanks (40–60 mm) from layers 5–2 (Kolobova,
Krivoshapkin, Slavinsky, 2003).
2. The truncated-faceted pieces demonstrate a
generally equal number of negative scars throughout the
pro¿ le. However, the number of unsuccessful scars in the
upper layers 18–4 is lower. This indicates the more skilled
process of production of ¿ ne blank spalls from truncated-
faceted surface.
3. The pieces from the upper layers demonstrate a
simplified technique of preparation of the truncated-
faceted striking platforms (through several large,
transverse removals; see Fig. 4, 1, 2, 7). This technique
was also observed on other cores of the Obi-Rakhmatian
industry (Krivoshapkin, 2012).
42 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
Thus, it is reasonable to suggest that the truncated-
faceted pieces from the lower and upper cultural horizons
of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto had different functions. The
standard series of these pieces from the lower layers
(21–19) represents tools, in which the serrated edge
between the truncated-faceted surface and the À aking-
surface was the main working element, while the long
retouched edges were used for auxiliary operations. The
data from paleoecological reconstructions indicate that
such tools were used for processing of ungulate-sinews.
The majority of the truncated-faceted pieces from the
upper layers (18–4) of the Grotto were likely utilized as
cores for production of small blank spalls.
It seems unlikely that the Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-
faceted pieces were treated through detachment of
spalls for thinning the blank with the purpose of
subsequent fastening it in a haft. The collection contains
a considerable proportion of artifacts that were not
thinned through À aking from the truncated surface. This
is explained by the uneven distribution of À ake-scars over
the À aking-surface, and by the abundant unsuccessful
scars. Furthermore, truncated-faceted surfaces were
performed both on the narrow faces and on the long
sides of the blank (accordingly, removals are recorded
in transverse and in longitudinal directions); this feature
does not agree with the assumption of the possible
fastening of these tools in a haft.
Discussion
In the western part of Central Asia, apart from the Obi-
Rakhmat Grotto, a number of other strati¿ ed sites are
known, which yield lithic industries associated with
the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional period and
contain truncated-faceted pieces. These are, ¿ rst of all, the
sites representing various stages of the Obi-Rakhmatian
(Krivoshapkin, 2012): Kulbulak (Uzbekistan) and Khudji
(North Tadzhikistan).
Kulbulak layer 23 yielded only one truncated-faceted
piece (Fig. 10, 1). Its morphometric appearance is similar
to those of the pieces under study from the Obi-Rakhmat
lower layers (21–19), which, along with other noted
characteristics, suggests the attribution of this industry
to the early stage of the Obi-Rakhmatian (Krivoshapkin
et al., 2010; Vandenberghe et al., 2014).
Analysis of truncated-faceted pieces from Khudji
(47 spec.; Fig. 10, 2–8) has shown that, in terms of main
Fig. 10. Truncated-faceted pieces from the Obi-Rakhmatian assemblages.
1 – Kulbulak, 2–8 – Khudji.
03 cm
1
23
4
5
6
7
8
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 43
characteristics, they are similar to such pieces from the
Obi-Rakhmat Grotto; but they demonstrate less standard
metrical and morphological traits. The Khudji truncated-
faceted pieces, unlike the Obi-Rakhmat ones, often bear
scars of comparatively large removals (30–60 mm long),
occupying almost the entire À aking surface. Only one half
of the Khudji pieces demonstrate the serrated, S-shaped
edge between the truncated surface and the flaking-
surface (which might serve as a working surface). Signs of
marginal retouch, typical of the Obi-Rakhmatian pieces,
have been noted on only one artifact from Khudji.
Comparative analysis has shown certain resemblance
of the Khudji truncated-faceted pieces to those from the
upper cultural layers (18–4) of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto,
which demonstrate simpli¿ ed working. This observation
is well correlated with the assumption that the Khudji
lithic industry belonged to the developed stages of
the Obi-Rakhmatian (Krivoshapkin, 2012; Pavlenok,
Krivoshapkin, 2014).
In Central Asia, truncated-faceted pieces have also
been reported from Paleolithic sites in Mongolia, and
western and southern Siberia, where these pieces have
been de¿ ned as the “pieces with ventral thinning in the
distal part” (Rybin, Kolobova, 2005–2009). Though
they are quite few, such artifacts are regarded as “tool-
markers” of the early Upper Paleolithic industries in this
region (Rybin, 2014).
The Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces
demonstrate the closest similarity with the relevant Zagros
Mousterian tools and Levant Middle Paleolithic tools.
This observation, together with other techno-typological
features, has been used to substantiate the Near- and
Middle-Eastern sources of this tradition (Krivoshapkin,
2012).
Conclusions
Certain conclusions can be made on the basis of the
analysis performed on the truncated-faceted pieces from
Obi-Rakhmatian assemblages in the western part of
Central Asia. These artifacts represent a distinct category
with specific morphometric features that, along with
other characteristics, allow us to consider these pieces
as marking certain important cultural and chronological
events. Together with other speci¿ c tools (burin-cores,
Obi-Rakhmat-type points, heavily retouched blades, etc.),
these pieces are diagnostic of the Obi-Rakhmatian.
Unlike the Near East, where truncated-faceted
pieces were broadly used during a considerable
chronological period (Hovers, 2007), in western Central
Asia such pieces did not occur in the Middle or Upper
Paleolithic industries (Ranov, Karimova, 2005: 48–73;
Vishnyatsky, 1996: 174–178) and were present only in
the Obi-Rakhmatian technocomplexes (Krivoshapkin,
2012). Hence, owing to their noted narrow distribution
through space and time, these artifacts in the industries
of western Central Asia can be regarded as cultural and
chronological markers. In other regions of the Northern
Asia, the truncated-faceted pieces are also associated
with the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional (or
early Upper Paleolithic) assemblages, which can attest
to genetic links between populations inhabiting these
distant territories.
Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful to N.V. Vavilina and A.V. Abdulmanova,
from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS, for
making lithic artifact sketches.
References
Anikovich M.V., Anisyutkin N.K., Vishnyatsky L.B. 2007
Uzlovye problemy perekhoda k verkhnemu paleolitu v
Evrazii. St. Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriya.
Baumler M.F., Speth J.D. 1993
A Middle Paleolithic assemblage from Kunji Cave, Iran.
In The Paleolithic Prehistory of the Zagros-Taurus. D. Olszewski,
H.L. Dibble (eds.). Philadelphia: Univ. Museum Press, pp. 1–74.
Belyaeva V.I. 1977
Opyt sozdaniya metodiki opisaniya “nozhei kostenkovskogo
tipa”. In Problemy paleolita Vostochnoi i Tsentralnoi Evropy.
Leningrad: Nauka, pp. 117–127.
Burins Préhistoriques: Formes, Fonctionnements,
Fonctions. 2006
Luxembourg: Musée nat. d’histoire d’art.
Crew H. 1975
An evolution of the relationship between the Mousterian
complexes of the eastern Mediterranean: A technological
perspective. In Problems in Prehistory: North Africa and the
Levant. Dallas: Southern Methodist Univ. Press, pp. 427–437.
Demidenko Y.ȿ. 2008
Kabazi V, Sub-Unit III/3: Western Crimean Mousterian
Assemblages. In Kabazi V: Interstrati¿ cation of Micoquian
& Levallois-Mousterian camp sites. Simferopol, Cologne:
Shlyakh, pp. 211–273.
Demidenko Y.E., Usik V.I. 2003
Refitting study and technological reconstructions.
In Neanderthals in the Levant: Behavioral Organization and
the Beginnings of Human Modernity. D. Henry (ed.). London,
New York: Continuum, pp. 107–155.
Derevianko A.P. 2009
The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and formation
of Homo sapiens sapiens in Eastern, Central and Northern Asia.
Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE SO RAN.
Derevianko A.P., Islamov U.I., Petrin V.T.,
Suleimanov R.K., Krivoshapkin A.I.,
Alimov K., Krakhmal K.A., Fedeneva I.N.,
Zenin A.N., Anoikin A.A. 1998
Issledovaniye grota Obi-Rakhmat (Respublika Uzbekistan)
v 1998 godu. In Problemy arkheologii, etnogra¿ i, antropologii
44 A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
Sibiri i sopredelnykh territorii, vol. IV. Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE
SO RAN, pp. 37–45.
Derevianko A.P., Krivoshapkin A.I., Anoikin A.A.,
Islamov U.I., Petrin V.T., Saifullaev B.K.,
Suleimanov R.K. 2001
The initial Upper Paleolithic of Uzbekistan: The lithic
industry of Obi-Rakhmat Grotto (on the basis of materials
recovered from strata 2–14). Archaeology, Ethnology and
Anthropology of Eurasia, No. 4: 42–63.
Dibble H. 1984
The Mousterian Industry from Bisitun Cave. Paléorient,
vol. 10 (2): 23–34.
Dibble H., Holdaway S. 1993
The Middle Paleolithic of Warwasi Rockshelter. In The
Paleolithic Prehistory of the Zagros. Philadelphia: Univ.
Museum Press, pp. 75–99.
Dibble H., McPherron S. 2007
Truncated-faceted pieces: Hafting modi¿ cation, retouch,
or cores? In Tools versus Cores: Alternative Approaches to
Stone Tool Analysis. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publ.,
pp. 75–90.
Dinnis R. 2008
On the technology of Late Aurignacian burin and scraper
production, and the importance of the Paviland lithic assemblage
and the Paviland burin. Lithics: The Journal of the Lithic Studies
Society, vol. 29: 18–35.
Eritsyan B.G. 1970
Erevanskaya peshchernaya stoyanka i ee mesto sredi
drevneishikh pamyatnikov Kavkaza. Cand. Sc. (History)
Dissertation. Moscow.
Eritsyan B.G. 1981
Ob odnom tekhnicheskom prieme utoncheniya mustyerskikh
izdeliy (po materialam Erevanskoi stoyanki). In Opisaniye i
analiz arkheologicheskikh istochnikov. Irkutsk: Izd. Irkutsk.
Gos. Univ., pp. 64–86.
Frick J. 2012
Kostenki-Enden (Dorsalabbau an Abschlägen).
In Steinartefakte: Vom Altpaläolithikum bis in die Neuzeit.
Tübingen: Kerns Verlag, pp. 459–466.
Guseinov M.M. 2010
Drevniy paleolit Azerbaidzhana. Baku: TekNur.
Hovers E. 2007
The many faces of cores-on-flakes: A perspective from
the Levantine Mousterian. In Tools versus Cores: Alternative
Approaches to Stone Tool Analysis. Newcastle: Cambridge
Scholars Publ., pp. 42–74.
Kolobova K.A., Krivoshapkin A.I., Slavinsky V.S. 2003
Kharakteristika metricheskikh parametrov orudiynykh
osnov i priemov vtorichnoi obrabotki v industrii grota Obi-
Rakhmat (Respublika Uzbekistan). In Istoriya Evrazii:
Istoki, preemstvennost i perspektivy: (Materialy Mezhdunar.
Bekmakhanovskikh chteniy, 21–22 maya 2003 g.). Almaty:
pp. 379–395.
Kot M.A. 2014
The earliest Middle Palaeolithic bifacial leafpoints in
Central and Southern Europe: Technological approach.
Quaternary International, vol. 326–327: 381–397.
Krivoshapkin A.I. 2012
Obi-rakhmatskiy variant perekhoda ot srednego k verkhnemu
paleolitu v Tsentralnoi Azii. D.Sc. (History) Dissertation.
Novosibirsk.
Krivoshapkin A.I., Kolobova K.A., Belousova N.E.,
Islamov U.I. 2012
Ranniye tekhnologicheskiye innovatsii v paleolite Srednei
Azii: Karenoidnaya tekhnologiya v perekhodnykh industriyakh
Uzbekistana. Vestnik Novosib. Gos. Univ. Ser.: Istoria, ¿ lologia,
vol. 11 (3): 211–221.
Krivoshapkin A.I., Kolobova K.A., Flyas D.,
Pavlenok K.K., Islamov U.I., Lukyanova G.M. 2010
Industriya sloya 23 stoyanki Kulbulak po materialam
raskopok 2010 goda. In Problemy arkheologii, etnografii,
antropologii Sibiri i sopredelnykh territorii, vol. XVI.
Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE SO RAN, pp. 105–110.
Krivoshapkin A., Kuzmin Y., Jull A.J. 2010
Chronology of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto (Uzbekistan): First
results on the dating and problems of the Paleolithic key site in
Central Asia. Radiocarbon, vol. 52: 549–554.
Krivoshapkin A.I., Pavlenok K.K., Shnaider S.V.,
Shalagina A.V., Mukhtarov G.A. 2012
Arkheologicheskiye issledovaniya grota Obi-Rakhmat v
2012 g. In Problemy arkheologii, etnogra¿ i, antropologii Sibiri
i sopredelnykh territorii, vol. XVIII. Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE SO
RAN, pp. 94–98.
Le Brun-Ricalens F. 2006
Les pièces esquillées: Etat des connaissances après un siècle
de reconnaissance. Paleo, vol. 18: 95–114.
Leakey L.S.B. 1931
The Stone Age cultures of Kenya Colony. Cambridge:
Cambridge Univ.
Lev S.Y., Klarik L., Girya E.Y. 2009
O prichinakh raznoobraziya form nozhei kostenkovskogo
tipa. Rossiyskaya arkheologiya, No. 4: 81–93.
Lev S.Y., Klarik L., Girya E.Y. 2011
Nozhi kostenkovskogo tipa i plastiny s podrabotkoi kontsa:
Fenomen konvergentnogo razvitiya ili rodstvo tehnologiy?
In Paleolit i mezolit Vostochnoi Evropy: Sbornik statei v
chest 60-letiya K.A. Amirkhanova. Moscow: Taus, pp. 235–
279.Lyubin V.P., Dzhafarov A.K. 1986
Novaya raznovidnost skrebel v inventare taglarskoi
mustyerskoi stoyanki. In Paleolit i neolit. Leningrad: Nauka,
pp. 74–77.
McPherron S., Dibble ɇ. 2000
The lithic assemblages of Pech de L’Azé IV (Dordogne,
France). Prehistoire Europeene, No. 15: 9–43.
Nekhoroshev P.E. 1996
Srednepaleoliticheskaya gruppa pamyatnikov na yuge
Russkoi ravniny. Arkheologicheskiy almanakh, No. 5: 71–74.
Nekhoroshev P.E. 1999
Tekhnologicheskiy metod izucheniya pervichnogo
rasshchepleniya kamnya srednego paleolita. St. Petersburg:
Evrop. dom.
Newcomer M., Hivernel-Guerre F. 1974
Nucléus sur éclat: Technologie et utilization par differentes
cultures préhistoriques. Bulletin de la Société préhistorique
française, No. 71: 119–128.
Nishiaki Y. 1985
Truncated-facetted flakes from Levantine Mousterian
assemblage. In Bulletin of the Department of Archaeology (The
University of Tokyo). Tokyo: The Univ. of Tokyo, pp. 215–226.
Otte M. 1980
Le “couteau de Kostienki”. Helinium, No. 20: 54–58.
A.V. Shalagina et al. / Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45 45
Pavlenok K.K., Krivoshapkin A.I. 2014
Spetsi¿ ka perekhoda k verkhnemu paleolitu v zapadnoi
chasti Tsentralnoi Azii: Industriya stoyanki Khudzhi. In Trudy
IV (XX) Vseros. arkheol. syezda v Kazani, vol. I. Kazan:
Otechestvo, pp. 113–115.
Ranov V.A., Karimova G.R. 2005
Kamennyi vek afgano-tadzhikskoi depressii. Dushanbe:
Devashtich.
Richter J. 2001
Une analyse standardisée des chaines opératoires sur les
pièces foliaces du Paléolithique moyen tardif. Préhistoires,
No. 5: 77–78.
Rybin E.P. 2000
K voprosu o “rukovodyashchikh iskopaemykh” v
industrialnykh kompleksakh rannei pory verkhnego paleolita
Gornogo Altaya. In Paleogeografiya kamennogo veka:
Korrelatsiya prirodnykh sobytiy i arkheologicheskikh kultur
paleolita Severnoi Azii i sopredelnykh territorik: Materialy
Mezhdunar. konf. Krasnoyarsk: pp. 123–126.
Rybin E.P. 2014
Tools, beads and migrations: Speci¿ c cultural traits in the
Initial Upper Paleolithic of Southern Siberia and Central Asia.
Quaternary International, vol. 347: 39–52.
Rybin E.P., Kolobova K.A. 2005–2009
Sredniy paleolit Altaya: Variabelnost i evolyutsiya. Stratum
plus, No. 1: 33–78.
Schroeder B. 1966
The lithic material from Jerf Ajla: A preliminary report. Les
Annales Archéologiques Arabes Syriennes, No. 16: 201–214.
Schroeder B. 2007
Truncated-Faceted Pieces from Jerf-Ajla. In Tools versus
Cores: Alternative Approaches to Stone Tool Analysis.
Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publ., pp. 17–41.
Solecki R.S. 1954
Shanidar Cave, a Paleolithic site in Northern Iraq. In Annual
Report of the Smithsonian Institution. Washington: pp. 389–425.
Solecki R.S., Solecki R.A. 1970
New secondary À aking technique at the Nahr Ibrahim cave
site, Lebanon. Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth, No. 23: 137–142.
Suleimanov R.K. 1972
Statisticheskoye izucheniye kultury grota Obi-Rakhmat.
Tashkent: Fan.
Vandenberghe D.A.G., Flas D., Dapper M., de,
Nieuland J., van, Kolobova K., Pavlenok K.,
Islamov U., Pelsmaeker E., de, Debeer A.-E.,
Buylaert J.-P. 2014
Revisiting the Palaeolithic site of Kulbulak (Uzbekistan):
First results from luminescence dating. Quaternary International,
vol. 324: 180–189.
Veselsky A.P. 2008
Kabazi V, Sub-Unit III/1: The Starosele facie of Micoquian.
In Kabazi V: Interstratification of Micoquian & Levallois-
Mousterian camp sites. Simferopol, Cologne: Shlyakh,
pp. 129–179.
Vishnyatsky L.B. 1996
Paleolit Srednei Azii i Kazakhstana. St. Petersburg: Evrop.
dom.
Vishnyatsky L.B. 2004
Evolutionary ranking of the Late Middle and Early Upper
Paleolithic industries: A trial. Archaeology, Ethnology and
Anthropology of Eurasia, No. 3: 41–50.
Wallace I.J., Shea J.J. 2006
Mobility patterns and core technologies in the Middle
Paleolithic of the Levant. Journal of Archaeological Science,
vol. 33 (9): 1293–1309.
Wrinn P.J. 2004
Analiz faunisticheskikh ostatkov iz grota Obi-Rakhmat
(materialy raskopok 1998–2002 gg.). In Grot Obi-Rakhmat.
Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE SO RAN, pp. 131–156.
Received June 2, 2015.
... Small blade blanks are struck from two opposed platforms, which are located angularly towards each other (Fig. 8). Due to the presence of a retouched edge prepared at the very end of the reduction process (Fig. 8), one cannot exclude the use of this artifact more as a truncated faceted piece, similar to the ones known from Obi-Rakhmat (Shalagina et al., 2015). ...
... Beside the predominance of Levallois point production, as well as the elongated morphology of the blanks, one should also consider the presence of truncated faced pieces, which find multiple analogies in Central Asian IUP sites and seems to be a specific feature for this kind of assemblage Shalagina et al., 2015; for further discussion see also Demidenko et al., 2020). ...
... Bladelet production was associated with burin-cores and multiplied burin-cores (nucleiform burins - Kolobova et al., 2014). Among tools, rectangular wide truncated-faceted pieces and convergent longitudinal scrapers and points predominate (Shalagina et al., 2015). Single atypical end scrapers, as well as burins, appear in that assemblage. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper presents the results of multidisciplinary studies on the open-air loess site Katta Sai 2 located in the western piedmonts of Tian Shan in Uzbekistan. Two archaeological horizons contain features associated with the Initial Upper Palaeolithic (IUP) - both Levallois and blade/bladelet volumetric technology, together with an Upper Palaeolithic toolkit. The cultural traits observed in Katta Sai 2 might have local roots dating back to MIS 5a and can be found in so-called Obirakhmatian technocomplex determined in several archaeological sites in the region. Thus, the obtained results question the hypothesis of non-local origins of IUP complexes associated with the early modern human migration from the Near East to Mongolia along the piedmonts of Pamir and Tian Shan. Until reliable anthropological and genetic data are obtained, it seems to be too early to conclude about the relationship between modern human migration and the appearance of IUP assemblages, at least across the western parts of Central Asia.
... The lithic assemblage is peculiar, as it encompasses Middle and Upper Palaeolithic characteristics in all the strata (Krivoshapkin, 2012). It mostly consists of a Middle Palaeolithic blade technology, with some Levallois traits, and a large number of truncated-facetted pieces, that were used to separate animal and vegetable fibres (Shalagina et al., 2015). Figure 129: Kulbulak, layer 23 (excavation of 2007Kulbulak, layer 23 (excavation of -2010. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The Altai range, in southern Russia, has yielded an important series of prehistoric assemblages in various contexts (caves, shelters and open-air sites). Recent anthropological and archaeological studies have established the significance of this area, with complex peopling events involving at least three different human species, Neanderthals, Modern Humans and Denisovans, the latter being exclusively associated with Altai assemblages. The cultural background of these hominins’ occupation is already well defined for the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic. This study aims to better characterize the previous period’s productions, through one of its important cultural features, the Levallois technology.To address this issue, we have undertaken a review of material coming from the some of the key Altai sequences, while trying to reconstruct the different chaînes opératoires implemented for the production of the desired products that had been previously recognized as Levallois. The analysed artefacts cover a large time span, from Early Middle Palaeolithic (Denisova, stratum 22 of the Central Chamber, RTL dated to 220-280 ky) to layers associated with Upper Palaeolithic (Ust’-Kanskaya, strata 3 to 1), and come from both caves and open-air sites. This allowed us to establish a chronological comparison, as well as regional. Results have shown that the Levallois assemblages of the region are quite homogenous; also, that Levallois technology may not have been present in Altai as early as it has been previously claimed, with a difference of ~100.000 years; and finally, that it is mostly analogous to what we can find in neighbouring regions. These extra-regional common features probably express contacts and exchanges to and from the Altai region.
... A complex record of Neanderthal activity is preserved inside the cave, including a nearly complete sequence of lithic knapping, minus the core decortication stage, which apparently took place off-site. The abundant tool kit (comprising 25% of the lithic assemblage) is dominated by trapezoidal and leaf-shaped scrapers, simple scrapers, retouched points and truncated-faceted tools (Shalagina et al. 2015;Kolobova et al. 2019bKolobova et al. , 2019a. A complete processing sequence of bone tools has also been recorded . ...
Article
Full-text available
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 characteristics of the retoucher's active zone. By examining two alternative grips for manipulating bone retouchers ((1) Using all the fingers of one hand in a power grip; (2) Using only the first three digits of one hand in a pinch grip), we found that when the retoucher is held in the first manner, the active area is larger, as is the amount of bone removed by the retoucher. When the retoucher was pinched with only three fingers in a precision grip, retouch damage was more densely concentrated and less bone was removed. The orientation of the retoucher in the hand and the grip employed have a greater influence on the active area than the extent of retoucher use, which we assessed by measuring the number of stone tool edges processed. By gripping the retoucher with all the fingers of one hand, the knapper automatically applies greater force, which results in the removal of more bone. Comparison of experimental bone retouchers with those recovered from Middle Paleolithic archaeological contexts in Cha-gyrskaya Cave (Altai, Russia) revealed that Altai Neanderthals practiced two methods of grasping bone retouchers, with a three-finger pinch grip being dominant.
... Scar pattern analysis has been used to reconstruct the technological stages of bifacial production (Shalagina et al. 2015;Zotkina et al. 2018;. ...
Article
Full-text available
The article presents the first results of studies concerning the raw material procurement and fauna exploitation of the Easternmost Neanderthals from the Russian Altai. We investigated the Chagyrskaya Cave – a key-site of the Sibiryachikha Middle Paleolithic variant. The cave is known for a large number of Neanderthal remains associated with the Sibiryachikha techno-complex, which includes assemblages of both lithic artifacts and bone tools. According to our results, a Neanderthal population has used the cave over a few millennia. They hunted juvenile, semi-adult and female bisons in the direct vicinity of the site. Human impact on the paleontological remains provides additional evidence about the exploitation and consumption of at least part of the carcasses at the spot, which is characteristic for a consumption site. The first seasonal data available for the Altai Middle Paleolithic indicates that the death of the animals occurred at the end of the warm season, which corresponds to the annual migration of the Bison priscus from the plains to the Altai foothills. The results of the attribute analysis of lithic artifacts suggest that raw pebbles from the nearby riverbed had been transported to the cave in one piece. The spatial data, the large amounts of lithic tools, the presence of bones with cut marks as well as the quantity of bone tools indicate a high intensity of the cave occupations. The composition of the artifact assemblage from Chagyrskaya Cave is characterized by a relatively high percentage of tools and débitage and a low percentage of cores and bifacial tools. The large number of cortical flakes, a significant number of partly cortical flakes (including different varieties of débordant core-trimming elements), as well as the presence of bifacial thinning flakes and chips are a clear indication of on-site core reduction and tool production. The metrical parameters of the cortical and non-cortical regular flakes testify to the complete reduction sequence on the site. In order to produce tools, the biggest blanks available have been chosen intentionally. The results obtained from the assemblage from Chagyrskaya Cave do not fit to the existing functional variability of the Altai Middle Paleolithic, which was dominated by “ephemeral” hunting camps and base camps with relatively low-intensive raw material utilization. The techno-typological characteristics of the Chagyrskaya Cave assemblage are completely consistent with the characteristics of the Crimean Miсoquian techno-complex, which is an integral part of the European Miсoquian. With regard to the settlement pattern, Chagyrskaya Cave is typical for a recurrently visited base camp with the exploitation and consumption of animal carcasses and an intensive lithic reduction as well as bone tool production. Such a site function demonstrates a considerable overlap with the Eastern and Central European Micoquian.
... The observed irregular blades are of technological function and can be determined as débordant pieces. Moreover, at Obi -Rakhmat, the predetermined concept is accompanied by volumetric cores and micro cores, as well as well -developed truncated -faceted and burin core techniques (Derevianko et al., 2001;Kolobova et al., 2013;Shalagina et al., 2015;Pavlenok et al., 2016). Such features are absent in Katta Sai 1, where a single irregular truncated faceted piece was found. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper aims to reconstruct the general knapping scheme in the Katta Sai 1 assemblage dated to around 40 kya. The site was excavated within a large -scale fieldwork project of interdisciplinary studies on Middle Paleolithic settlements in the western Tian Shan piedmont. The technological analyses allow the identification of a new variant of human adaptation in the regional Middle Paleolithic. The locally -collected river pebbles were knapped using a predetermined Levallois core reduction scheme. Although some volumetric features can be identified within the assemblage, the technology differs from the other well -known sites in the region, such as Obi -Rakhmat of Kulbulak, where blade technology predominates.
... In order to describe retouchers exhibiting intentional spall negatives, we have performed a scar pattern/working steps analysis used to reconstruct tool-manufacturing sequences. Scar pattern analysis was based on the reconstruction of manufacturing and rejuvenation stages of lithic artifacts as well as on the chronological order of each stage in the manufacturing process (Pastoors, 2000;Kot, 2014;Shalagina et al., 2015;Shalagina et al., 2019a,b). ...
Article
Here, we apply geometric-morphometric shape analysis to Middle Paleolithic bone retouchers from Chagyrskaya Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Russia. The cave contains evidence of the easternmost manifestation of the Micoquian industry, associated with Neanderthals at end of MIS4 and the beginning of MIS3. Taphonomic and scar pattern analyses were performed first on random samples exhibiting appropriate characteristics. Several retouchers produced on intentionally modified blanks were identified in our sample, suggesting that some of the Chagyrskaya Cave bone retouchers can be described as formal tools. All retouchers from Chagyrskaya Cave exhibit a similar general morphology. The most variable group is comprised of complete retouchers without blank modifications. Retouchers exhibiting minor damage affect the general pattern of variability and it is not possible to identify them only by means of geometric-morphometric shape analysis. Complete retouchers with blank modifications fall within the range of variability of complete retouchers without blank modification, suggesting intentional shaping of blanks to conform to a standard template. The range of variability of the bone retouchers does not differ significantly from that of the most highly modified lithic artifacts at Chagyrskaya – plano-convex bifaces – which may indicate intentional shape control for such artifacts. Geometric-morphometric analysis indicates that the anatomical origin of bone blanks does not significantly influence the retouchers’ shape, which may point to strict blank selection and, at the same time, intentional modification. Our results raise questions regarding the integration of retouchers into a complex, multidimensional “chaine-opératoire” as well as the nature of Neanderthal cognitive abilities. Geometric-morphometric shape analysis represents a major step forward in the study of prehistoric retouchers.
... L'outillage lithique est majoritairement repré senté par des lames retouché es (notamment des pointes) et par des racloirs. Un é lé ment caracté ristique comprend des nuclé us-burins, des piè ces tronqué es et facetté es (Shalagina et al., 2015) et des pointes fortement retouché es de petites dimensions. Les caté gories typologiques du Palé olithique supé rieur (burins, grattoirs transversaux) sont exprimé es dans une faible proportion. ...
Article
Résumé Cet article présente les résultats des fouilles menées durant les années 2016–2017 au nouveau site stratifié du Paléolithique supérieur d’Ushboulak. Le gisement d’Ushboulak se situe dans la vallée de Shiliktinskaïa (Kazakhstan oriental). Le site a livré huit couches stratigraphiques, qui ont fourni du matériel archéologique depuis la période holocène jusqu’aux premières étapes du Paléolithique supérieur. La collection des artefacts la plus représentative a été découverte dans les couches 6 et 7. L’industrie lithique issue de ces couches est caractérisée par le débitage orienté vers la fabrication des lames par la méthode parallèle uni- et bidirectionnelle lors de la réduction volumétrique des nucléus. L’ensemble des pièces est représenté par des types d’outils, tels que racloirs tranversaux et burins sur lames, outils tronqués et facettés, lames appointées, lames pédonculées à l’extrémité obtuse, nucléus-burins. L’ensemble de ces caractéristiques ainsi que la datation obtenue pour la couche 6, entre 45.249 et 44.012 cal.BP, permettent d’attribuer les couches 6 et 7 au Paléolithique supérieur ancien et de considérer le Kazakhstan oriental comme une région géographique intermédiaire entre les complexes contemporains de l’Altaï de montagnes, en Dzoungarie et en Mongolie.
Article
Full-text available
The paper discusses the results from an analysis of five cores associated with Layer 11 in the Southern Chamber of Denisova Cave, intended to obtain small elongated blanks such as bladelets and small blades. Analysis of a lithic reduction sequence employed in the research has made it possible to clearly recognize the phases in producing flake scars on lithic artifacts through the preparation of core blanks, and in core reduction, as well as to determine stages at which some of these pieces were used as tools. The analysis provided insights into a general flaking pattern for the cores under study. Such artifacts were predominantly made on large massive flake blanks, had a plain striking platform, and the working edge showing traces of reduction associated with detaching the target flakes. These technological characteristics are fully consistent with the technological repertoire of a hominin group, based on cores from the same assemblage, intended to obtain larger target removals such as flakes and blades. A cross section of the flaking surface shows no evidence for a deliberately created and maintained convex relief, while typologically four of the five artifacts were defined as sub-prismatic. The analysis of a lithic reduction sequence shows that artifacts from the examined collection related to the production of blanks in the form of small flake-blades, without using new techniques and the controlled reduction of a flaking surface.
Article
The paper is focused on the study of a specific tool type intended for pecking the external platform edge. We define the characteristic features of this technique in the Initial Upper Palaeolithic assemblages from South Siberia and Central Asia. The study was based on the assemblages from layers 6 and 7 of the Upper Palaeolithic site of Ushbulak (East Kazakhstan). For comparative purposes, we prepared a series of experimental tools which were then used for external platform edge preparation in the course of blade production. The comparative analyses of rchaeological/experimental pecking tools and blades produced with the use of these tools suggest that pecking tools were short-lived expedient implements. In the assemblages of layers 6—7, the pecking technique along with direct and reverse reduction of external platform edge served as one of the main methods of fracture zone (impact area) preparation. The appearance of this technique can be explained by the adjustment of knapping technology to a number of different factors such as raw material quality, desired blank type and the character of flaking implements.
Article
Full-text available
North-east China occupies an important geographic position for understanding the process of Neolithisation in East Asia. Although archaeologists have long debated the trajectory of change in this region, a lack of intensive survey and excavation has precluded convincing interpretations. This article presents research on the newly excavated sites of Huayang and Taoshan in the southern Lesser Khingan Mountains, with a particular focus on the lithic assemblages. Comparative and environmental analyses demonstrate the largely uniform trajectory of lithic technologies across north-east China and close correspondence with Late Glacial palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental changes.
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the modes of dispersal, variability, and chronology of the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) of Southern Siberia and the northern Central Asia. Several types of tool-markers, a peculiar type of reduction technology and two types of adornments, specific to the area under study, are distinguished. Based on current data, the author concludes that about 45,000 years ago, there was a rapid eastern movement of populations from a core region in part of the mountains of the Russian Altai towards central Mongolia and southwestern Transbaikal. In these regions, about 43,000–40,000 years ago, a second center of a blade-based IUP appeared. It was characterized by specific forms of tools, reduction technologies and personal adornments similar to those in the core region. Thus, the transfer of a whole set of a unified cultural tradition occurred. Therefore, based on the geographic and temporal distribution of tool-markers, ancient populations moved along the most southern of the possible routes, i.e. over the territory of present-day Mongolia and northwest China.
Article
The Obi-Rakhmat Grotto is one of the key Paleolithic sites in Central Asia. Archaeological excavations have revealed 22 strata containing archaeological materials. Lithic assemblages from all cultural layers display features similar to both late Middle Paleolithic blade industries and early Upper Paleolithic complexes in Southwest Asia and the Siberian Altai Mountains; this suggests a gradual Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition occurred in western Central Asia. Hominid remains found at Obi-Rakhmat (layer 16) show a mixture of archaic and modern traits. Different chronometric methods (radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence [OSL], U-series, and electron spin resonance [ESR]) were applied to the site's deposits. It appears that 14 C dates are more reliable in terms of correspondence to the general framework of the Paleolithic of Central Asia and neighboring regions, and after critical analysis and the deletion of outliers, the upper part of the site's cultural sequence can be dated between 36,000–41,400 BP (layer 7) and ∼48,800 BP (layer 14.1). The U-series dating results are less secure due to the high uranium content and the presence of detritus, which contaminates dated sediments (travertine). The OSL dating gave uniform ages for all cultural succession (∼8 m of deposits), and confirms a very rapid sedimentation rate. Results of ESR dating depend greatly on the choice of uptake model. Dates calculated for the early uptake to some extent correspond to 14 C data. The linear uptake chosen by Skinner et al. (2007) makes sediments very old (about 55,000–90,000 yr ago), which contradicts 14 C dates and does not correspond well to the regional archaeological context.
Article
Kulbulak has been considered as a key site for the Palaeolithic archaeology in Central Asia. Its significance, however, is under debate. Our analysis of the lithics provides no evidence for a Lower Palaeolithic industry, and challenges the existence of the “Denticulate Mousterian” as a particular Middle Palaeolithic facies in Western Central Asia. One limitation to interpreting the record preserved at Kulbulak, has been the lack of a chronological framework. In this paper, we report on the first age results that we have obtained for the sedimentary sequence using luminescence signals from potassium feldspar. We applied a conventional approach, which consists of stimulating single-aliquots of feldspar with infrared at 50 °C after a preheat of 250 °C for 60 s. The characteristics of this luminescence signal are documented, and it is shown to suffer from anomalous fading. The fading rates measured in the laboratory are used for correcting the ages. In general, the fading-corrected ages are stratigraphically consistent and agree with the archaeological evidence; they bracket the upper 6 m of the sequence in between 39 ± 4 ka and 82 ± 9 ka. These are among the first dates for human occupation during the Upper and Middle Palaeolithic in the region, but should be interpreted with caution owing to the limitations of the fading-correction model.
Article
Mobility is thought to be a significant source of Middle Paleolithic archaeological variability in the East Mediterranean Levant. However, models of Levantine Middle Paleolithic land-use have historically been based on rare and taphonomically sensitive evidence from a limited number of sites. Because lithic artifacts are the most ubiquitous archaeological remains available to the prehistorian, relationships between stone tool technology and mobility patterns can improve tests of hypotheses about prehistoric land-use strategies. This paper examines variation in Middle Paleolithic mobility strategies in the Levant from the perspective of core technology. A model linking expedient core reduction techniques and decreased mobility is adapted from one developed for late prehistoric contexts in the New World. Incorporating core data from numerous Levantine Middle Paleolithic assemblages, this study tests hypotheses about diachronic change, synchronic geographic variation, and possible hominin behavioral differences in mobility strategies.
nozhei kostenkovskogo tipa
  • Opyt Sozdaniya Metodiki Opisaniya
Opyt sozdaniya metodiki opisaniya "nozhei kostenkovskogo tipa". In Problemy paleolita Vostochnoi i Tsentralnoi Evropy. Leningrad: Nauka, pp. 117-127. Burins Préhistoriques: Formes, Fonctionnements, Fonctions. 2006
Western Crimean Mousterian Assemblages
  • V Kabazi
  • Sub-Unit
  • Iii
Kabazi V, Sub-Unit III/3: Western Crimean Mousterian Assemblages. In Kabazi V: Interstrati cation of Micoquian & Levallois-Mousterian camp sites. Simferopol, Cologne: Shlyakh, pp. 211-273.
Behavioral Organization and the Beginnings of Human Modernity
In Neanderthals in the Levant: Behavioral Organization and the Beginnings of Human Modernity. D. Henry (ed.). London, New York: Continuum, pp. 107-155. Derevianko A.P. 2009
The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and formation of Homo sapiens sapiens in Eastern, Central and Northern Asia. Novosibirsk: Izd
  • Iae So Ran
  • A P Derevianko
  • U I Islamov
  • V T Petrin
  • R K Suleimanov
  • A I Krivoshapkin
  • K Alimov
  • K A Krakhmal
  • I N Fedeneva
  • A N Zenin
  • A A Anoikin
The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and formation of Homo sapiens sapiens in Eastern, Central and Northern Asia. Novosibirsk: Izd. IAE SO RAN. Derevianko A.P., Islamov U.I., Petrin V.T., Suleimanov R.K., Krivoshapkin A.I., Alimov K., Krakhmal K.A., Fedeneva I.N., Zenin A.N., Anoikin A.A. 1998