The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe

P. Jeffrey Brantingham
Steven L. Kuhn
Kristopher W. Kerry
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe
    Book Description:

    This volume brings together prominent archaeologists working in areas outside Western Europe to discuss the most recent evidence for the origins of the early Upper Paleolithic and its relationship to the origin of modern humans. With a wealth of primary data from archaeological sites and regions that have never before been published and discussions of materials from difficult-to-find sources, the collection urges readers to reconsider the process of modern human behavioral origins. Archaeological evidence continues to play a critical role in debates over the origins of anatomically modern humans. The appearance of novel Upper Paleolithic technologies, new patterns of land use, expanded social networks, and the emergence of complex forms of symbolic communication point to a behavioral revolution beginning sometime around 45,000 years ago. Until recently, most of the available evidence for this revolution derived from Western European archaeological contexts that suggested an abrupt replacement of Mousterian Middle Paleolithic with Aurignacian Upper Paleolithic adaptations. In the absence of fossil association, the behavioral transition was thought to reflect the biological replacement of archaic hominid populations by intrusive modern humans. The contributors present new archaeological evidence that tells a very different story: The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transitions in areas as diverse as the Levant, Eastern-Central Europe, and Central and Eastern Asia are characterized both by substantial behavioral continuity over the period 45,000-25,000 years ago and by a mosaic-like pattern of shifting adaptations. Together these essays will enliven and enrich the discussion of the shift from archaic to modern behavioral adaptations. Contributors: O. Bar-Yosef, A. Belfer-Cohen, R. L. Bettinger, P. J. Brantingham, N. R. Coinman, A. P. Derevianko, R. G. Elston, J. R. Fox, X. Gao, J. M. Geneste, T. Goebel, E. Güleç, K. W. Kerry, L. Koulakovskaia, J. K. Kozlowski, S. L. Kuhn, Y. V. Kuzmin, D. B. Madsen, A. E. Marks, L. Meignen, T. Meshveliani, K. Monigal, P. E. Nehoroshev, J. W. Olsen, M. Otte, M. C. Stiner,J. Svoboda, A. Sytnik, D. Tseveendorj, L. B. Vishnyatsky

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93009-4
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 On the Difficulty of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transitions
    (pp. 1-13)
    P. J. Brantingham, S. L. Kuhn and K. W. Kerry

    The most recent Upper Paleolithic culture complexes differ in important ways from the latest Middle Paleolithic. Indeed, by 20,000–18,000 BP,¹ the height of the Last Glacial Maximum, many fundamental and unique features of modern human behavior—from the use of material culture as a medium of symbolic communication to the development of complex and costly technologies—are expressed on a global scale. The evolutionary roots of these behavioral characteristics may be much deeper, and, in a handful of places, they seem to be expressed precociously in time horizons considerably more ancient than the Last Glacial Maximum (McBrearty and Brooks...

  6. 2 Early Upper Paleolithic Backed Blade Industries in Central and Eastern Europe
    (pp. 14-29)
    J. K. Kozłowski

    The term “transitional industry” refers to Interpleniglacial taxonomic units characterized by evolutionary dynamics in the spheres of technology, production, and morphology of stone blanks and tools leading from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic. Bearing in mind that the broad chronological framework of these units spans from 50 to 30 ka, we cannot look for their genesis solely in a process of acculturation resulting from an encounter between Neanderthal groups and anatomically modern humans arriving in Europe (d’Errico et al. 1998; Zilhão and d’Errico 1999). The initial formation of transitional industries was certainly the result of internal developmental dynamics within...

  7. 3 Continuities, Discontinuities, and Interactions in Early Upper Paleolithic Technologies: A View from the Middle Danube
    (pp. 30-49)
    J. A. Svoboda

    Existing studies of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition demonstrate how little theoretical ammunition we possess to explain the behavioral changes and technological acceleration evident at the end of the Middle Paleolithic and beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. Most of the transitional entities that appear after 50 ka retain important elements of Middle Paleolithic technologies, be it a Levallois or Levallois-leptolithic technique, as in the Emiran and Bohunician (Marks 1983b; Svoboda and Škrdla 1995); a bifacial technique, as in the Szeletian (Prošek 1953; Valoch 1990a, 1993); or simply a persistence of discoid and unprepared flake core reduction. At the same time, these...

  8. 4 Koulichivka and Its Place in the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Eastern Europe
    (pp. 50-63)
    L. Meignen, J.-M. Geneste, L. Koulakovskaia and A. Sytnik

    The magnitude of cultural continuity between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in different parts of Eurasia remains a topic of lively debate, especially in relation to modern peopling of the area. The phenomenon seems to be much more complex than initially thought. As pointed recently by Kozłowski (1996), various regions between 50,000 and 30,000 BP show evidence of both transformation of local cultural traditions toward greater dependence on blade technologies (“leptolithization”) as well as the diffusion of allochthonous traditions. In fact, several different processes were probably involved in the appearance of the early Upper Paleolithic. Consequently, it is essential to...

  9. 5 Origins of the European Upper Paleolithic, Seen from Crimea: Simple Myth or Complex Reality?
    (pp. 64-79)
    A. E. Marks and K. Monigal

    A few years ago, a new origin myth for modern behavior in Europe was proposed (Stringer and Gamble 1993). Although mainly using earlier observations (e.g., Mellars 1973, 1992; White 1982), it brought them together to form a single, simple story. This myth chronicles how we as a species passed from being essentially noncultural to becoming behaviorally modern about 40,000 years ago. This passage was not linked directly to a shift to modern anatomy, as that occurred some 70,000 years earlier in Africa (Klein 1998). Rather, this myth states that, “like the flick of a switch” (Stringer and Gamble 1993: 203,...

  10. 6 The Beginning of the Upper Paleolithic on the Russian Plain
    (pp. 80-96)
    L. B. Vishnyatsky and P. E. Nehoroshev

    The period encompassing the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition broadly corresponds to the Middle Valdai Megainterstadial (i.e., Middle Würm, Oxygen Isotope Stage 3; also known as the Mologa-Sheksna Interstadial). Lasting from about 55 to 25 ka, the Middle Valdai Megainterstadial separates the early (Kalinin) and late Valdai (Ostashkov) glacial stages (Zarrina 1991; Arslanov 1992). Late Middle Paleolithic sites on the Russian Plain date to the first half of the Middle Valdai Megainterstadial, whereas early Upper Paleolithic sites are known only from the second half. Assemblages older than 55 ka or younger than 25 ka are beyond the scope of this chapter.


  11. 7 Emergence of the Levantine Upper Paleolithic: Evidence from the Wadi al-Hasa
    (pp. 97-112)
    J. R. Fox and N. R. Coinman

    The Levant has long been recognized as an important region for archaeologists interested in the earliest development of the Upper Paleolithic (Neuville 1934; Garrod 1951, 1955; Marks 1993; Bar-Yosef 1999). The emergence of the Upper Paleolithic in the Levant and Near East in general has been the subject of extensive discussion in the archaeological literature of the past three decades (see Marks [1983a] for a thorough review of transitional studies in the Levant during the earlier part of the twentieth century). Although a number of scenarios and explanations have been offered to account for the replacement of Mousterian with Upper...

  12. 8 New Perspectives on the Initial Upper Paleolithic: The View from Üçağızlı Cave, Turkey
    (pp. 113-128)
    S. L. Kuhn, M. C. Stiner and E. Güleç

    The initial Upper Paleolithic industries of the Levant are pivotal to accounts of the origins of the Upper Paleolithic in Eurasia and that complex of archaeological traits thought to represent “modern human behavior.” Technologically, initial Upper Paleolithic assemblages seem to manifest a combination of Mousterian (Levallois) and Upper Paleolithic features. Elongated flakes, blades, and points were produced from flat cores with faceted striking platforms, usually by hard hammer percussion. Typologically, the initial Upper Paleolithic falls more securely into the Upper Paleolithic, sometimes—although not always—containing distinctive type fossils (Emireh points,chanfreins) (Marks and Ferring 1988; Gilead 1991). However, little...

  13. 9 The Upper Paleolithic in Western Georgia
    (pp. 129-143)
    T. Meshveliani, O. Bar-Yosef and A. Belfer-Cohen

    Genetic studies indicating a recent origin for modern humans have reinvigorated interest in the archaeology of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition and how it is related to the emergence and dispersals of modern populations. Some researchers have correlated the extensive movements of modern human groups into or across Eurasia with concrete archaeological entities (Semino et al. 2000). The most signiμcant population movement is considered as marking the advent of the Upper Paleolithic revolution. The search for the causes and origin of this major cultural change has resulted in divergent perspectives. Some authorities suggest that this revolution was no more than a...

  14. 10 The Aurignacian in Asia
    (pp. 144-150)
    M. Otte

    New discoveries in central Asia permit the distribution of the Aurignacian to be extended far beyond Europe, which brings into question the hypothesis of a direct African origin for modern humans. In Europe, modern human populations arrived with new technology, new values, and a new way of life. As archaeologists, we call this new behavioral complex the “Aurignacian.” This model of modern behavior cannot be applied as such outside Europe, although it is clear that new people and new technologies were migrating from east to west beginning around 40,000 to 35,000 BP (Djindjian 1993). In my view, this movement of...

  15. 11 The Middle-Upper Paleolithic Interface in Former Soviet Central Asia
    (pp. 151-161)
    L. B. Vishnyatsky

    The region containing the sites of interest in this chapter stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Pamirs and Tian Shan in the east. This is a vast area with highly variable natural conditions. Different sections of this region have experienced different geological and environmental histories. The arid plains and mountains lying in the west, between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea, are of minor significance for this chapter, because no early Upper Paleolithic sites—nor any later Upper Paleolithic sites, for that matter—have as yet been discovered there. Much more important is eastern central...

  16. 12 The Early Upper Paleolithic of Siberia
    (pp. 162-195)
    T. Goebel

    Few topics in anthropology have generated controversy like the origins and dispersal of modern humans (Mellars and Stringer 1989; Bräuer and Smith 1992; Aitken et al. 1993; Stringer and Gamble 1993; Nitecki and Nitecki 1994). The bulk of the evidence currently available from western Eurasia and Africa supports the “spread-and-replacement” model of modern human origins (Howell 1994; Klein 1994, 1999; Mellars 1996; Stringer 1996), which asserts that modern humans evolved in Africa during the late middle Pleistocene and later spread throughout the globe, replacing autochthonous populations of premodern hominins. This scenario is not unanimously agreed on, however, especially among a...

  17. 13 Origin of the Upper Paleolithic in Siberia: A Geoarchaeological Perspective
    (pp. 196-206)
    Y. V. Kuzmin

    The transition from the Middle-Upper Paleolithic is of great importance for Old World archaeology and physical anthropology (J. D. Clark 1992; Nitecki and Nitecki 1994; Foley and Lahr 1997). It is now possible to clarify the main features of the transition in Siberia, which covers approximately 12,000,000 km², because of the recent publication of several comprehensive summaries of the archaeology and radiocarbon chronology of the Siberian Paleolithic (West 1996; Lisitsyn and Svezhentsev 1997; Derevianko et al. 1998f; Kuzmin and Orlova 1998; see also Goebel, this volume). In this overview, I present an updated geoarchaeological picture (see Kuzmin and Orlova 1998:...

  18. 14 Initial Upper Paleolithic Blade Industries from the North-Central Gobi Desert, Mongolia
    (pp. 207-222)
    A. P. Derevianko, P. J. Brantingham, J. W. Olsen and D. Tseveendorj

    There is ample evidence to suggest that distinctive initial Upper Paleolithic assemblages are found in southern Siberia and portions of northwest China (Derevianko et al. 1998f; Brantingham et al. 2001, chapter 15, this volume; Goebel, this volume; Kuzmin, this volume). Two recently excavated cave sites in the Mongolian Gobi, Tsagaan Agui (White Cave) and Chikhen Agui (Ear Cave), extend the known geographical range of the initial Upper Paleolithic into the cold desert regions of northeast Asia. Late Middle Paleolithic assemblages from Tsagaan Agui, which may date to the early (Zyrian) glacial, contain Levallois-like core technologies specialized for dealing with poor...

  19. 15 The Initial Upper Paleolithic at Shuidonggou, Northwestern China
    (pp. 223-241)
    P. J. Brantingham, X. Gao, D. B. Madsen, R. L. Bettinger and R. G. Elston

    Shuidonggou has long been recognized as unique within the north Chinese Paleolithic sequence (Licent and Teilhard de Chardin 1925; Boule et al. 1928; Jia et al. 1964; Bordes 1968; Kozłowski 1971; Li 1993; Yamanaka 1995; Lin 1996). It is one of only a few archaeological sites in northern China known to contain a formal blade technology. The initial excavators, Licent and Teilhard de Chardin (1925: 210), classified the lithic industry from Shuidonggou as evolved Mousterian, or emergent Aurignacian (see also Boule et al. 1928: 120–21). They observed that core forms from Shuidonggou closely resembled those found at western Mousterian...

  20. 16 The Early Upper Paleolithic and the Origins of Modern Human Behavior
    (pp. 242-248)
    S. L. Kuhn, P. J. Brantingham and K. W. Kerry

    The ideas and data presented in this volume urge us to reconsider the complexity inherent in the origins of the Upper Paleolithic. A striking theme throughout the volume is the diversity of Middle-Upper Paleolithic transitions detected even on local or intraregional scales. In most of the areas covered, at least one variety of the early Upper Paleolithic appears to show strong continuity with the local late Middle Paleolithic (see figures 1.1, 1.2). In central and eastern Europe, for example, the various early Upper Paleolithic industries with leaf points (e.g., Szeletian, Streletskayan) appear to have evolved in situ out of the...

    (pp. 249-284)
    (pp. 285-286)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 287-295)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 296-296)