This study investigates technological change and human settlement of the Transbaikal region, southern Siberia during the roughly 30,000-year interval of the Upper Paleolithic period, a time marked by extreme climatic and ecological fluctuations at the end of the last Ice Age. As such, technological changes in lithic assemblage data from nine sites are evaluated in terms of technological provisioning strategies, technological innovation, and the maintenance of social safety-nets through reciprocity of exotic goods.
Lithic assemblages from previously excavated Early (Tolbaga), Middle (Chitkan, Kunalei, Melnichnoe, and Priiskovoe), and Late (Studenoe 1 and 2 and Ust’ Menza 1 and 2) Upper Paleolithic sites were assessed and compared in terms of artifact manufacture, use-life, and transport, as well as toolkit composition. Field investigations centered on identification of lithic raw material availability within the vicinity of each site.
Changes in lithic technology, lithic raw material provisioning strategies, and land use correlate to ecological changes just before and during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The Early Upper Paleolithic is characterized by large blade production through Levallois-like technology from locally available toolstone. Settlements were more permanent during this relatively warm period. As the climate cooled during the Middle Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers utilized extraction camps to augment dwindling faunal resources around residential bases. Scarce high-quality non-local chert and quartzite was conserved and reduced utilizing microcores to fashion implements and inserts for slotted hunting tools that were subsequently transported to extraction camps. As the climate became increasingly cold and dry with the onset of the LGM, residences were moved frequently and people transported their lithic toolkits, comprising extremely efficient microblade technology produced on high-quality non-local cherts.
Technological changes may not reflect new human populations in the Transbaikal as only select portions of the toolkits changed to reduce the risk associated with fluctuating resource availability. Moreover, social networks likely increased over time, marked by an influx of nonlocal, high-quality raw materials and a switch from a microcore to a microblade technology prior to and during the LGM.
|School:||Washington State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Microblade technology, Paleolithic, Raw material provisioning, Russia, Settlement, Siberia, Transbaikal|
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