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Ocher in Late Paleolithic Contexts at the Kovrizhka IV Site, the Baikal-Patom Highlands (Eastern Siberia, Russia)

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.3.033-042

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Abstract

This paper deals with numerous ocher remains found in cultural layers 6, 2G, and 2B of the Paleolithic site Kovrizhka IV on the Vitim River, in the Baikal-Patom Highlands (Eastern Siberia). These layers are dated by radiocarbon to the interval of ~19.2–18.3 ka cal BP. In cultural layers 2B and 2G, ocher colored the living fl oors and combustion areas. Stratigraphic observations indicate that this was done at the very beginning of the occupation. In layer 6, traces of ocher were present on an anthropomorphic fi gurine made of mammoth ivory, and pieces of ocher were found near the head of another such fi gurine. In layer 2B, a large piece of ocher was unearthed at the edge of the hearth. Ocher residues were also detected by use-wear analysis on certain artifacts. This variety of patterns suggests different functions of ocher, possibly both symbolic and utilitarian. The mineral composition of ocher was assessed by X-ray diffraction analysis. In all three layers, hematite is associated with quartz. In layer 2G, an additional type of ocher was identifi ed, containing impurities, such as calcite and chlorite. Known sources of ocher are located in the distribution areas of magnetite and hematite ores, over 500 km southwest and southeast of Kovrizhka IV. The importance of ocher in the life of these societies is discussed in light of the archaeological evidence and the longdistance raw material acquisition patterns of ocher.

About the Authors

A. V. Tetenkin
Irkutsk National Research Technical University
Russian Federation

Associate Professor, Researcher

Lermontova 83, Irkutsk, 664074



E. I. Demonterova
Institute of the Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Senior Researche

Lermontova 128, Irkutsk, 664033



E. V. Kaneva

France

Senior Researcher

CNRS UMR 7264 CEPAM, Nice



A. Henry
Université Côte d’Azur
Russian Federation

Doctor

CNRS UMR 7264 CEPAM, Nice



E. Gauvrit Roux
Université Côte d’Azur
France

Doctor

CNRS UMR 7264 CEPAM, Nice



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For citation:


Tetenkin A.V., Demonterova E.I., Kaneva E.V., Henry A., Gauvrit Roux E. Ocher in Late Paleolithic Contexts at the Kovrizhka IV Site, the Baikal-Patom Highlands (Eastern Siberia, Russia). Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2020;48(3):33-42. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.3.033-042

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