In 1996, archaeological excavations were conducted at the Masterov Kliuch site, located east of Lake Baikal, Siberia. Three archaeological components were uncovered, all occurring in colluvial deposits. The two lower components (I and II) are Palaeolithic in age and character. Component I is an early Upper Palaeolithic industry dated to 32,500-30,000 years ago (B.P.), and is in a primary context. Component II is undated but is also assignable to the early Upper Palaeolithic based on typology, although it appears to have been redeposited. Artifact assemblages from these two components are blade-based and include retouched blades and Øakes, knives, denticulates, end scrapers, gravers, and burins. Component III represents a Bronze Age occupation dated to around 2900 B.P. The Palaeolithic industries at Masterov Kliuch are technologically/typologically similar to other initial Upper Palaeolithic industries in Siberia, and appear to represent some of the easternmost manifestations of an early Upper Palaeolithic technocomplex that spanned inner Asia from Uzbekistan to the Transbaikal between about 42,000 and 30,000 B.P. Our Ændings have further implications for Upper Palaeolithic research in northern Asia, especially regarding site formation processes and hunter-gatherer raw material procurement. First, like Masterov Kliuch, most early Upper Palaeolithic sites across northern Asia lie in colluvial settings and may not be in pristine, primary contexts, so that interpretations of stone features such as hearths or dwellings may be suspect. Second, study of the Masterov Kliuch lithic industries indicates that huntergatherers exclusively utilized local lithic resources in the manufacture of tools, and that raw material procurement strategies were embedded within other subsistence pursuits. This pattern of local, embedded raw material procurement is seen in virtually all other early Upper Palaeolithic sites in Siberia, while "logistical," longdistance procurement strategies, characteristic of the early Upper Palaeolithic of western Eurasia, did not appear in Siberia until much later in time, after about 25,000 B.P.


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