Tolbaga revisited: Scrutinizing occupation duration and its relationship with the faunal landscape during MIS 3 and MIS 2

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Anthropology and Museum Studies

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Here we reexamine the occupational ages of the Tolbaga site, southwestern Transbaikal, Russia. With AMS14C dates from 23 bone samples, we conclude that the occupation ages of Tolbaga in lithostratigraphical unit II (cultural layer 4 in the previous literatures) of Tolbaga fall within the interval of 42,970 and 26,010 Cal yr BP. The age is consistent with occupation ages presented in previous papers, but with a slightly expanded time span. Further, the occupational ages newly presented here are divided into three sub-stages; from oldest to youngest, the first (older) section at 42,970–40,425 Cal yr BP, the second section at 37,785–33,290 Cal yr BP, and the third section at 29,320–26,010 Cal yr BP. These three sub-stages are placed at the onset of the Upper Paleolithic chronological sequences in southern Siberia; that is, the first section coincides with the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP), the second stage with the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP), and the third stage with the Middle Upper Paleolithic (MUP). Further, the first section falls within the climatic amelioration period between the Heinrich (H) event 5 (H5: 46,000 Cal yr BP) and H4 (39,000 Cal yr BP), the second section is within the interval of H4 and H3 (30,000 Cal yr BP), and the third section within the interval of H3 and H2 (24,000 Cal yr BP). This suggests that occupations occurred once climatic conditions became relatively stable, although high-resolution reconstruction of the local natural environment needs future evaluation. Additionally, animal species in each section corresponds to specific landscape types; (1) the first section to the steppe or steppe-tundra, (2) the second section to a mosaic of landscapes including taiga (parkland forest), high-mountain steppe, dry-steppe and rocky canyon, and mountain-tundra, and (3) the third section to steppe or steppe-tundra again. This change in animal species composition implies temporal changes in faunal compositions within the natural environment and/or hunting strategies of the Tolbaga site occupants.


This article was originally published in Archaeological Research in Asia. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Archaeological Research in Asia


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