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Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology
of Eurasia

43 (3) 2015




The Early Upper Paleolithic of the Gobi Altai Region in Mongolia (Based on Materials from the Chikhen-2 Site)

A.P. Derevianko, S.V. Markin, S.A. Gladyshev, and J.W. Olsen.

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 fi nds are given, along with an analysis of reduction and secondary trimming techniques and retouch typology. Single-platform mono-frontal fl at 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 identifi ed. 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 classifi ed 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.

Keywords: Mongolia, Gobi Altai, Early Upper Paleolithic, stratigraphy, fl aking technique, radiocarbon dating, stone tool kit.