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Late Pleistocene Paleoenvironments and Episodic Human Occupations in the Orkhon Valley of Central Mongolia

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2021.49.2.003-022

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Abstract

Here, we present initial results of a new course of research being carried out at the Moiltyn-am, Orkhon-1, and Orkhon-7 Paleolithic sites in the Orkhon River Valley, central Mongolia. Our research focuses on the Moiltyn-am site, which preserves a cultural and chronological sequence from the Final Middle to the Late Upper Paleolithic. Results from analyses of rare earth elements, Strontium (Sr) isotopes, and faunal assemblages are correlated with data on paleoenvironmental conditions in the region during MIS-3 and MIS-2. Our conclusions are based in part upon post- depositional changes detectable in archaeological material from cultural layers at the Moiltyn-am site revealed through convergent analyses of stratigraphy, sedimentology, planigraphy, and the comparison of Sr isotopes in sediments and osteological remains. XRF-derived geochemical data from the Moiltyn-am sedimentary sequence yields evidence of past climatic conditions. We correlated these data with human occupational episodes in the Orkhon Valley during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, and the results are analyzed in the context of extant paleoenvironmental information from northern Mongolia. Our results indicate a relatively humid climate prevailed during MIS-3, followed by a period of aridification, and the redeposition of sediments at Moiltyn-am. Faunal analysis reveals that Bos sp. and equids were the principal prey species for humans in the Final Middle to Initial Upper Paleolithic, supplemented by members of the Caprinae during the Early Upper Paleolithic. A complex mammoth fauna inhabited forest-steppe and steppe landscapes in the Khangai Mountains during MIS-3 and MIS-2.

About the Authors

A. M. Khatsenovich
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



I. A. Vishnevskaya
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences; Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

Kosygina 19, Bldg. 1, Moscow, 119991, Russia



D. Bazargur
Institute of Archaeology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Mongolia

Zhukovyn Gudamzh 77, Ulaanbaatar, 13343



A. O. Volvakh
Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Koptyuga 3, Novosibirsk



A. M. Klementiev
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences; Institute of the Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

Lermontova 128, Irkutsk, 664033



J. Ge
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
China

142 Xizhimenwai Dajie, Beijing, 100044



S. V. Zhilich
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



D. V. Marchenko
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



T. G. Okuneva
Zavaritsky Institute of Geology and Geochemistry, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Akademika Vonsovskogo 15, Yekaterinburg, 620016



S. A. Kogai
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



B. Gunchinsuren
Institute of Archaeology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Mongolia

Zhukovyn Gudamzh 77, Ulaanbaatar, 13343



E. P. Rybin
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



J. W. Olsen
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences; School of Anthropology, University of Arizona
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090

1009 East South Campus Dr., Tucson, AZ, 85721-0030, USA



A. P. Derevianko
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



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For citation:


Khatsenovich A.M., Vishnevskaya I.A., Bazargur D., Volvakh A.O., Klementiev A.M., Ge J., Zhilich S.V., Marchenko D.V., Okuneva T.G., Kogai S.A., Gunchinsuren B., Rybin E.P., Olsen J.W., Derevianko A.P. Late Pleistocene Paleoenvironments and Episodic Human Occupations in the Orkhon Valley of Central Mongolia. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2021;49(2):3-22. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2021.49.2.003-022

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