M.B. Kozlikin1, W. Rendu2, H. Plisson2, M. Baumann2 and M.V. Shunkov1 1Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia 2Bordeaux University, UMR 5199, PACEA laboratory, Bat. B2, Allee Geoffroy St-Hilaire CS 50023, 33615 Pessac cedex, France
This study describes a part of the Paleolithic bone industry of Denisova Cave—the site that is key for understanding a complex interaction between various groups of early humans and the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. The Initial Upper Paleolithic layers of the cave yielded fossil remains of Denisovans, and the earliest ornaments and bone tools in North and Central Asia. The principal objective of this study is to analyze unshaped bone tools from the Late Middle and Initial Upper Paleolithic from the East Chamber of the cave. Among more than 10 thousand bone fragments, subdivided into three groups in terms of taphonomic, technical, and utilization traces, 51 specimens were selected for study. On the basis of location of use-wear traces that varied according to function, unshaped bone tools such as retouchers, awls, intermediate tools, and knives were revealed for the first time in Denisova Cave. The results of the morphological and use-wear analysis suggest that those tools were used for processing organic materials such as leather, plantfibers, and wood. Unshaped tools indicate a developed industry that preceded, or was contemporaneous with, the formal types of tools—polished points and eyed needles.
Keywords: Altai Mountains, Denisova Cave, Initial Upper Paleolithic, Denisovans, bone industry