Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 43/4 (2015) 33–45
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Keywords: Terminal Middle Paleolithic, early Upper Paleolithic, Northern Asia, truncated-faceted pieces.
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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,
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Fig. 7. Distribution of the Obi-Rakhmatian truncated-faceted pieces by the number (1) and types (2) of striking platforms.
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
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,
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).
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-
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.
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
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.
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,
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,
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
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