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International Scientific Conference "Archeology of the Arctic"
November 19-23, 2017
Salekhard

The specifics of the hunting specialization of the Paleolithic population in the arctic zone (of the materials of the Yana camp site in the North- East of Russia).

P.A. Nikolsky, V.V. Pitulko

Geological institute of the RAS, Moscow; Institute of history material culture of RAS, Saint-Petersburg.

(cervalces@rambler.ru; pitulkov@gmail.com)

THE SPECIFICS OF THE HUNTING SPECIALIZATION OF THE PALEOLITHIC POPULATION IN THE ARCTIC ZONE (ON THE MATERIALS OF THE YANA CAMP SITE IN THE NORTH-EAST OF RUSSIA)*

*The study was supported by the Russian Research Fund (project № 16-18-10265-RNF).

 

Identification of bone remains from the cultural levels of the Yana Palaeolithic site (the east of the Arctic Siberia) allows to gain better understanding of the hunting specialization of the people who lived there about 30,000 cal. y.a. [Pitulko et al., 2013]. As of today we have studied 32,016 bones and their fragments from the excavated synchronous areas Yana-NP, Yana-B, and YMAM. Many of the items could not be identified because of the bones fragmentation, weathering, and/or thermal exposure. 

The descriptions of the identifiable remains and their percentage distribution are shown in Fig.1. The taxonomic spectra varied both within the occupation site complex in general, and between individual localities. Thus the dominant species among the bone remains from the YMAM (The Yana "mammoth cemetery") was a mammoth  (>95%), and in Yana-B and NP a greater taxonomic diversity was observed. At the same time in the Yana-B, unlike the Yana-NP location there were no hare remains and the percentages of mammoth, bison and horse were higher owing to a reduced  reindeer presence. Most of the remains originated from the Yana-NP location. We have identified concentrations of hare, reindeer, bison and mammoth bones.  The described characteristics indicated the functional (butchering, utilization), and/or seasonal differences between the locations.

On the whole the dominant species in the assemblage were the reindeer, hare, horse and bison bones. The mammoth remains were of a significant importance in terms of volume. Apparently the reindeer, horse, and bison were the main sources of food and raw material for small items manufacturing, while the mammoth (particularly the ivory) was used as a material for production of all types of weapons, tools, and decorations [Pitulko et al., 2015; Pitulko et al., 2012].

Most of the hare remains were deposited in an anatomical position, the distal segments of the fore and hind legs were separated in a similar manner. Apparently, the hare meat was not used for food (owing to the abundance of the more valuable reindeer, horse and bison meat), and it was only its fur which was used [Pitulko et al., 2012]. This may be used as an indirect indication of the season for its harvesting (late autumn - early winter, when the fur is of the best quality). For the Yana complex the season of occupation has not been established so far, however, apparently the people visited it in various seasons.

REFERENCES:

Pitulko V.V., Pavlova E.Yu., Nikolsky P.A.. Mammoth tusk knapping in the Upper Paleolithic of Arctic Siberia (based on the materials of the Yana occupation site in the north of the Yana-Indigirka lowland)  // Stratum plus. 2015. – №1. – P. 223-284.

Pitulko V., Nikolskiy P., Basilyan A., Pavlova E. Human habitation in the Arctic Western Beringia prior the LGM / In K.E. Graf, C.V. Ketron, M.R. Waters (eds). Paleoamerican Odyssey. College Station: Texas A&M University, 2013. – P. 13-44.

Pitulko V.V., Pavlova E.Y., Nikolskiy P.A., Ivanova V.V. The Oldest Art of Eurasian Arctic // Antiquity. – 2012. – Vol. 86. – P. 642-659.

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