Wood material from living trees and trunk remains of Siberian larch (Larix sibirica Ldb) from the upper treeline (2300 m) of the Mongun Taiga mountain massif was used for building up a 2367-year Mongun tree-ring chronology. The chronology is consistent with paleoclimatic data and reflects the main changes in the climate of the Northern Hemisphere over the last two millennia: the cooling of the 6th century, “Medieval warming,” “Little Ice Age,” and the current warming. The calculation of the response function between the chronology and data from weather stations made it possible to reconstruct the variability of air temperatures in June and July for 2000 years. The chronology contains the climate signal of regional scale and is suitable for dating archaeological wood, that is, for determining the calendar time of building the monuments in the Altai–Sayan region.
Here, we present technological, typological and morphological analyses of the Pleistocene lithic assemblages excavated from Horizons 3–2.5 of the multicomponent Chikhen-2 site located on the southern piedmont of the Gobi Altai Range, southern Mongolia. Descriptions of geomorphology, stratigraphy, and archaeological finds are given, along with an analysis of reduction and secondary trimming techniques and retouch typology. Single-platform mono-frontal flat cores, double-platform bi-longitudinal cores, orthogonal cores, and narrow-front cores dominate the reduction strategy. Microcores are also present. Levallois-like cores appear initially in Horizon 2.7. Within the tool assemblage, retouched blades, end-scrapers on blades, notched-denticulate tools and large side-scrapers (skreblos) were identified. There are also various micro-tools present, including bladelets with blunt edges, oblique points, and truncated tools. The lithic industries of Horizons 3–2.5 are classified as Early Upper Paleolithic; a conclusion supported by radiocarbon determinations (ca. 30,000 BP). The lithic complexes described here are broadly analogous with other known Early Upper Paleolithic sites both in Mongolia (e.g., Chikhen-Agui; Orkhon-1 and -7; Tolbor-4, -15, and -16), and within a larger territory including the Russian Trans-Baikal region, North China, and the Altai Mountains. Archaeological materials from the lowermost strata at Chikhen-2 are important because they illustrate the emergence of the Upper Paleolithic in southern Mongolia.
The article explores dental affinities of people associated with three Neolithic cultures of southwestern Siberia. At least three morphological components were revealed. The first, evidently derived from the Upper Paleolithic population of the Altai-Sayan Highland, is found in the Baraba forest-steppe. The second, related to Baikal Mongoloids, is present in people representing the Kuznetsk-Altai and Bolshemys cultures. The third component, revealing affinities with the Mesolithic people of northeastern Europe, was detected in the Vengerovo-2a group.
Based on an in-depth palynological analysis of stratified Paleolithic sites in the northwestern Altai, the succession of climatic, floral, and phytocenotic changes is reconstructed that occurred in the northwestern Altai during the alternating cold and relatively warm stages of the Pleistocene and which were critical to human survival and adaptation. Features of climatic optima and pessima are matched with the region's sequence of warm and cold periods of the Middle and Upper Pleistocene.
The article outlines the results of a comprehensive study of human skeletal remains from the Barangol cemetery, Gorny Altai, representing the northern variant of the Pazyryk culture. Archaeological, demographic, craniometrical, osteometrical, and pathological findings are discussed. Results suggest that the Early Iron Age populations of the Lower and Middle Katun River and of southeastern Altai were related by origin, but differed in economic specialization. As well as pastoralism, the northern Pazyryk people widely practiced agriculture.
The article presents unpublished findings on the 1972 systematic excavations at a radiocarbon-dated Neolithic site on Suchu Island, Khabarovsk Region. Stratigraphy, dwellings associated with the Malyshevo culture (4th–3rd millennia BC), typological and functional properties of stone tools, cultural and chronological attribution of ceramics and of clay artifacts relating to art and ritual are discussed, with reference to parallels from other Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the region.
The assemblages of the Sibiryachikha facies of the Middle Paleolithic stand out in terms of their production technology and typology among the other contemporary lithic assemblages of Gorny Altai. In this study, the role of raw materials in the development of characteristic features of the Okladnikov and Chagyrskaya caves’ industries is determined. The proximity of sources of the raw material used has been established, and the main principles of its exploitation (quality and availability) have been confirmed. For the Sibiryachikha facies of the Middle Paleolithic of the Altai, these principles were implemented through selection of easily-accessible good-quality stones and less accessible high-quality materials—Cambrian-Ordovician Zasurye jasperoids. The latter were used selectively, and the quality of raw materials was important for secondary working of stone tools in the Sibiryachikha assemblages. Increase in the proportion of artifacts made of Zasurye jasperoids in the later assemblages of the Sibiryachikha facies is not associated with the introduction of new techniques, and may reflect the increased availability of this high-quality material and the development of adaptive skills of the ancient population.
Paleoanthropological materials, along with the art and architectural evidence, are analyzed. Data on the general trend of ritual practices in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions of the Fertile Crescent area in the period of transition to the sedentary way of life, and the new subsistence strategies in the Early Holocene, are considered. Ethnographic data on the stadially related cultures are used as supplemental material.
Six folklore motifs shared by the native Na-Dené speakers in North America and in Southern Siberia are revealed. In such combination, these motifs are known nowhere else. The spread of the Na-Dené languages to North America was related to the migration of the bearers of the Dyuktai culture. The lack of parallels for the Na-Dené folklore in Yakutia, Kolyma, Chukotka, and Kamchatka is understandable: the Dyuktai people had gone to Alaska and their heritage was erased by the waves of newcomers. The folklore motifs that are shared both by Na-Dené and Siberian peoples go back to the traditions of the southern neighbors of the Dyuktai people. The population density across the area between Altai and Trans-Baikal region was higher than in northward territories; therefore, the remains of the "Paleolithic" folklore could survive, notwithstanding the multiple language changes.
This article describes an unusual high-quality tripartite bronze sword found on the shore of Lake Baikal and apparently dating to the Scythian Age. Because the blade and the hilt are nonfunctional, the sword was not used as an actual weapon. The guard is peculiarly shaped, and decorated with stylized faces. While no exact parallels are known to us, certain features link the specimen to Scythian counterparts, and to a sword from Khotu-Talaakh, Yakutia. Special attention is paid to the semantics of the find, which possibly evidence contact with the ritual practices of the Scytho-Siberian world and those of the Siberian taiga.
The study outlines the results of a molecular-genetic analysis of two males from a Pazyryk burial at Ak-Alakha-1, Ukok Plateau, the Altai Mountains, relating to mitochondrial DNA, the polymorphic part of the amelogenin gene, autosomal STR-loci, and STR-loci of the Y-chromosome. Major lineages of both mtDNA and the Y-chromosome are identical, indicating kinship. However, more detailed results exclude first-degree (father–son) kinship in favor of a more distant relationship. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic implications of the findings are discussed. The study demonstrates the capacities of modern paleogenetic methods and the urgent necessity of including them in archaeological reconstructions.
The article discusses the impact of urbanization on the transmission of the Sakha people's identity, culture, and language in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). Based on the results of a sociological survey, the ethno-cultural identity of villagers, and first and second generation urban dwellers is assessed. People living in towns, especially the descendants of townsfolk, are significantly different from villagers in several respects: they plan to have fewer children, have weaker ties with tribal clans, their ethnic identity is transformed, they are adopting Russian as an everyday language, and are less involved in folk culture. It is predicted that the impact of urbanization will fully manifest itself in 20–25 years following a rise in the share of second generation urban dwellers in the Sakha population.
A stone abrasive tile excavated by A.V. Machinsky in 1940 at an Early Medieval site at Cheremkhovo, Amur Region, is described. Judging by the results of the experimental use-wear and technological analyses, the tile was used to polish round stone beads. In East Asia, such specialized tools first appeared in the early Neolithic (Novopetrovka culture) and were still employed in the Early Iron Age and during the Middle Ages.
The Middle Paleolithic record for the “peopling of the North” is presented with tables, a distribution map, chronology, bioclimatic circumstances, and toolmaking repertoires. Salient aspects identify time-series, patterns of adaptive strategies, dispersal “frontlines”, and strategies for procurement of food-animals. They support empirically a model of the human biogeographic “cold space” realm; its bearing on the adaptive horizons of the historical zonation of the Paleolithic culture; debates about the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Eurasia; and antecedents for trends in intensifi cation of Holocene culture in circumpolar habitats, with reference to the Canadian Arctic.
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 identified 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 unified 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.
The Angara River separates major historical and geographic regions of Siberia—the Cis-Baikal area and the Yenisei drainage. Its banks were subjected to detailed archaeological surveys whose findings were integrated into cultural and chronological models. Because most of the Angara has become part of a system of artifi cial reservoirs, we are unable to test these models using new planigraphic and stratigraphic information concerning all the riverside archaeological sites. In 2014, we carried out an in-depth archaeological survey of a 115-kilometer stretch of the northern Angara bank between the Boguchany Dam and the village of Boguchany. Survey results were supplemented by archival data. The ancient habitation layer was found to extend over a large area of the Angara terrace. Artifacts have tended to accumulate in weakly stratified parts of the subaerial complex. Known archaeological sites span the period from the Neolithic to the Late Iron Age.
The article describes the principles underlying the automated system of archaeological information processing (ASIP), “Terek”. It is part of a nationwide geographic information system, “Archaeological Sites of Russia”, designed at the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The system is based on information from archaeological reports which were submitted to the archives of the IA RAS. Currently, under Russian Science Foundation Project No. 14-1803755, field data from the reports of 2009–2012 are being entered into “Terek”. At the present time, the system contains a brief description of approximately 20,000 sites and locations where no archaeological remains have been revealed by surveys. Open access cartographic systems enable automated mapping of sites based on Internet geoservers such as Google.Maps, Yandex.Maps, and SAS.Planeta. Examples of such mapping are provided.
This article addresses the traditional domestic clothing of various groups of southwestern Siberian Old Believers. Professing the same Priestless Old Belief, they came from various parts of European Russia (“Poles”, Belarusian “Muscovites”, Kerzhaks, etc.). The study is based on the sarafan set of women's wear representing the most typical element of the traditional Russian apparel. Sarafan features vary across populations, making it possible to identify separate ethnic groups and indicate their possible sources of migration. Mapping the ethnological data collected during ﬁeld studies has shown signiﬁcant cultural variability of Old Believer groups, and their afﬁnity to either northeastern or northwestern Russian traditions. Ethno-cultural diversity was maintained owing to the stability of marriage circles until the 1920s.
The article describes ﬁve teeth from a mandible found in 2014 at Afontova Gora II, dated to 16–12 ka BP. The crown morphology is rather archaic, the odontoglyphic pattern is complex, and no eastern or western markers were detected. The crowns are large whereas the roots are short. The closest parallels are found in the dentition of the Upper Paleolithic child from Listvenka, southern Siberia. The peculiar trait combination shown by those two individuals and denoted as southern Siberian, had probably originated in the Altai and Sayan piedmont. This dental pattern is neutral with regard to the east to west differentiation vector and may be independent of the eastern and western dental meta-races.