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Early Upper Paleolithic Serpentine Ornaments from Ust-Karakol, Northwestern Altai

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.1.003-015

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Abstract

We describe the spatial context, technology, and possible function of serpentine-antigorite artifacts discovered at the Ust-Karakol Early Upper Paleolithic site in the Altai Mountains. The ornaments were made locally, with a single manufacturing process. They were fragmented either at the preform stage or at the stage of final trimming. There are no use-wear traces. The chaine operatoire included the preparation of blanks, biconical drilling, and polishing. Because the material is fragile, drilling ofpreforms preceded their polishing. This approach was also used with artifacts made of other fragile materials, such as ostrich eggshell, widely employed in the Paleolithic of North and Central Asia. Reconstructed techniques of manufacturing serpentine ornaments belong to the technological repertoire of the Early Upper Paleolithic Ust-Karakol tradition in the Altai. The petrographic analysis of magmatic rocks of the Bashchelak and Anuy mountain ranges suggests that serpentine could have been local. The potential sources include gabbroid deposits related to the Devonian and Permian magmatism of the region.

About the Authors

A. Y. Fedorchenko
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Junior Researcher.

Pr Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



N. E. Belousova
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

 

Junior Researcher.

Pr Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



N. A. Kulik
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

 

Leading Researcher.

Pr Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



M. V. Shunkov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

 

Chief Researcher, Department Head.

Pr Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



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For citation:


Fedorchenko A.Y., Belousova N.E., Kulik N.A., Shunkov M.V. Early Upper Paleolithic Serpentine Ornaments from Ust-Karakol, Northwestern Altai. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2020;48(1):3-15. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.1.003-015

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)