The Russian Academy of Sciences and the University of Colorado at Boulder, and including Vance T. Holliday, a UA professor of anthropology and geosciences, excavated three and worked on six of the more than two dozen ancient sites along the Don River, about 240 miles south of Moscow, Russia. Their discovery is published in the current (Jan. 12) issue of the journal Science ("Early Upper Paleolithic in Eastern Europe and Implications for the Dispersal of Modern Humans").
The excavations are located in the villages of Kostenki and Borshchevo, on the low terraces just above the Don River, overlooking a broad valley. Holliday says the uplands at Kostenki closely resemble rural Iowa. The area also has a number of natural springs and seeps that would have been an important source of fresh water for both the humans and the animals they hunted.
While there is little human skeletal evidence except for a few teeth, other artifacts found at Kostenki - including stone tools and elegant beadwork and figurines made from shells and ivory - are consistent with Upper Paleolithic humans. Stone used for tools were imported from quarries at least 60 miles away. The animal remains on site indicate that these people were technologically adept at hunting a variety of small and large game - hares, foxes, birds, fish and a number of very large animals, including mammoth.
The notion that modern people lived that long ago in what was then a sub-Arctic region intrigued Holliday, who analyzed the stratigraphy of the sites. Some of the digs are several meters deep in places, covered by silt from centuries of repeated flooding. Bones and artifacts have been exposed there for centuries, and scientific archaeology missions have dug there since 1879.
Getting a precise fix on the age of the sites is a bit complicated. Radiocarbon dating and a technique called OSL, or optically stimulated luminescence - measuring the time an artifact was last exposed to sunlight - offer varying levels of certainty.
But Holliday says the key is a thin layer of volcanic ash overlaying the oldest modern sites. The ash deposit is evidence of a very large volcanic eruption known to have occurred in Italy about 40,000 years ago, guaranteeing that anything underneath is older.
"OSL goes back much farther than C14, but it isn't as reliable as C14, so the ash provide a nice check on the OSL dates from levels beyond the reliability of C14 as well as being a superb marker bed and dating tool in its own right," Holliday says.
There are older deposits of artifacts below the settlements created by humans, likely belonging to Neanderthals, although no skeletal evidence of them remains either. Neanderthals roamed across Ice Age Europe for 200,000 years and largely vanished as modern humans advanced out of Africa through the Middle East and into central Asia and Europe.
Vance T. Holliday can be reached at 520-621-4734 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
John F. Hoffecker, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the American team, is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Harrison | University of Arizona
New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences