This dissertation presents results of recent research in Siberia directed at (1) developing an accurate archaeological chronology for the mid-Upper Pleistocene of Siberia (chiefly through accelerator radiocarbon methods), and (2) defining and characterizing the region's Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. Eleven Middle Paleolithic sites are now known from southwest Siberia. Relative age estimates of these cultural occupations range from the Last Interglacial (oxygen-isotope substage 5e, 128,000-118,000 years ago) to the mid-Middle Pleniglacial (oxygen-isotope stage 3,50,000-40,000 years ago). Associated lithic industries are Levallois and Mousterian. Middle Paleolithic interassemblage lithic variability is hinged on the differential production of Levallois points and Levallois flakes, and the intensity of side scraper reduction. Hominid remains from two sites, Denisova Peshchera and Peshchera Okladnikov, appear pre-modern and exhibit affinities to Neanderthals from southwest Asia. At least 15 sites have been assigned to the Siberian early Upper Paleolithic. Radiocarbon dates range from 42,000 to 30,000 years ago. Occupations at Kara-Bom (component IIa), Makarovo-4, and Varvarina Gora predate the effective range of radiocarbon dating (40,000 years ago), and may be considerably older than radiocarbon dates suggest. Initial Upper Paleolithic industries are characterized by the detachment of blades from "flat-faced" parallel blade cores, the absence of Levallois techniques, the presence of bifacial and burin secondary reduction technologies, and tool kits with end scrapers, angle burins, wedges, gravers, bifacial knives, and slender retouched points on blades. Also occurring for the first time are worked bone, ivory, and antler points, awls, and needles, pendants and other items of personal adornment, and rare examples of mobiliary art. Diagnostic hominid fossils are absent. The Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition involved dramatic and multi-faceted changes in tool technologies and tool forms. Patterns of change are discrete rather than discontinuous; no transitional industries have been identified. Stratigraphic evidence indicates rapid succession from one technocomplex to the other. This evidence supports population replacement rather than continuity for the origins of the Siberian Upper Paleolithic. Whether this event also signals the appearance of modern humans in this and surrounding areas of inner Asia must await additional hominid fossil discoveries.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1994
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