ISSN 2227-2380 (Print)

List of issues > «Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series». 2021. Vol 38

Geometric Microliths in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus and Adjacent Territories

L. V. Golovanova, V. B. Doronichev, E. V. Doronicheva, A. G. Nedomolkin
At present, the sites of the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus with an age ranging from 25–23 to 12–10 ka cal BP it is proposed to single out a separate period – the Epipaleolithic, by analogy with the Near East. This article summarizes data on the appearance of geometric microliths in the Epipaleolithic of the Caucasus and traces their changes during three main stages. The study is based on stratified assemblages with radiocarbon dates. The problem of appearance and spread of geometric microliths in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus is considered in comparison with adjacent regions. A review of the Epipaleolithic industries of the Caucasus and adjacent territories (the Levant, Zagros, Anatolia, northeastern Azov Sea region, and Crimea) shows a variegated picture of the appearance of various forms of such forms in these regions. The current data unambiguously indicate that at the early stage of the Epipaleolithic geometric microliths are known only in the Levant and the South Caucasus. Based on the published data, it is possible to analyse the distribution of some forms. For example, scalene triangles are identified in the Near East and the South Caucasus at all stages of the Epipaleolithic. The earliest appearance of proto trapezes is noted in the Kebarian at the early stage of the Levantine Epipaleolithic. In the South Caucasus, according to current data, they are known only in the late stage of the Epipaleolithic. In the North Caucasus, trapezes are found starting from the middle stage of the Epipaleolithic. In Crimea, trapezes are characteristic of the late stage of the Epipaleolithic. In the North- Eastern Azov Sea region trapezes are absent, but parallelograms are represented. Segments are the most common form in all regions. The shape and nature of the processing of the segments may differ. The composition and diversity of geometric microliths could change at the sites within the same cultural area. This is clearly seen in the regions that are well studied and where there are known many sites having different economic specialization. Various methods of the attaching of geometric microliths to the shaft have provided the advantage of this type of tool. The modularity of such compound tools made it possible to increase the efficiency of making projectile weaponry. It is this advantage that facilitated distribution of geometric microliths in the Epipaleolithic over wide areas.
About the Authors

Golovanova Liubov Vitalievna, Candidate of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher, Laboratory of Prehistory; 215, 6M, Liflandskaya st., St. Petersburg, 199020, Russian Federation, e-mail: mezmay57@mail.ru

Doronichev Vladimir Borisovich, Candidate of Sciences (History), Director, Laboratory of Prehistory; 215, 6M, Liflandskaya st., St. Petersburg, 199020, Russian Federation, e-mail: labprehistory@yandex.ru

Doronicheva Ekaterina Vladimirovna, Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Prehistory; 215, 6M Liflandskaya st., St. Petersburg, 199020, Russian Federation, e-mail: edoronicheva87@yandex.ru

Nedomolkin Andrey Georgievich,Candidate of Sciences (History), Museum Curator, Researcher, National Museum of the Adygeya Republic; 229, Sovetskaya st., Maikop, 385000, Russian Federation, Laboratory of Prehistory; 215, 6M Liflandskaya st., St. Petersburg, 199020, Russian Federation,e-mail: nedomolkinandrei@mail.ru

For citation
Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B., Doronicheva E. V., Nedomolkin A. G. Geometric Microliths in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus and Adjacent Territories. Bulletin of the Irkutsk State University. Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series. 2021, Vol. 38, pp. 78–111. https://doi.org/10.26516/2227-2380.2021.38.78 (in Russ.)
Caucasus, Near East, Azov Sea region, Crimea, Epipaleolithic, dating, geometric microliths

Alexandrova O. I. Funktsionalniy analis kamennogo inventarya stoyanok kontsa verhnego paleolita i mezolita Gubskogo usheliya. Diss. ... Cand. hist. sciences. [Functional analysis of the lithic inventory of the Gubs River Gorge sites dated from the end of the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. Ph.D. Thesis]. Moscow, 2015. 185 p. (In Russ.)

Amirkhanov Kh. A. Verkhnii paleolit Prikubaniya [Upper Paleolithic of the Kuban River basin]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1986, 113 p. (In Russ.)

Amirkhanov Kh. A. K probleme evolyutsii i periodizatsii verkhnego paleolita Zapadnogo Kavkaza [On the problem of evolution and periodization of Upper Paleolithic of Western Caucasus]. Rossiiskaya arkheologiya [Russian Archaeology]. 1994, Vol. 1, pp. 9–24. (In Russ.)

Bader N. O. Varianty kultury Kavkaza kontsa verkhnego paleolita i mezolita [Variants of Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic cultures of the Caucasus]. Sovetskaya arkheologiya [Soviet Archaeology]. 1965, Vol. 4, pp. 3–16. (In Russ.)

Bader N. O. Pozdnii paleolit Kavkaza [Late Paleolithic of the Caucasus]. Paleolit SSSR [Paleolithic of the USSR]. Moscow, 1984, pp. 272–302. (In Russ.)

Bar-Yosef O. The Epi-Palaeolithic Cultures of Palestine. Thesis Submitted for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy. Jerusalem, Hebrew University Publ., 1970, 408 p.

Bar-Yosef O., Arensburg B., Belfer-Cohen A., Goldberg P., Meignen L., Stiner M.C., Munro N.D., Weiner S. Hayonim Cave. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 2017, pp. 231–240.

Bar-Yosef O., Belfer-Cohen A., Mesheviliani T., Jakeli N., Bar-Oz G., Boaretto E., Goldberg P., Kvavadze E.,Matskevich Z. Dzudzuana: An Upper Palaeolithic cave site in the Caucasus foothills (Georgia). Antiquity. 2011, Is. 85, pp. 331–349.

Belfer-Cohen A., Goring-Morris A. N. Why Microliths? Microlithization in the Levant. Thinking Small: Global Perspectives on Microlithization. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association. 2002, Vol. 12, pp. 57–68.

Belfer-Cohen A., Goring-Morris A. N. The Upper Palaeolithic and earlier Epi-Palaeolithic of Western Asia. The Cambridge world prehistory. 2014, Vol. 3, pp. 1381–1407.

Belfer-Cohen A., Goring-Morris A. N. From the Epipalaeolithic into the earliest Neolithic (PPNA) in the South Levant. Documenta Praehistorica. 2020, XLVII, pp. 36–52.

Biagi P. The Last Hunter-Gatherers of the Northern Coast of the Black Sea and their Role in the Mesolithic of Europe a View from Crimea. Southeast Europe before Neolithisation. Proceedings of the International Workshop within the Collaborative Research. Tubingen, 2016, pp. 113–129.

Byrd B. F., Garrad A. N. The Upper and Epipalaeolithic of the Azraq Basin, Jordan. Quaternary of the Levant Environments, Climate Change, and Humans. Cambridge, 2013, pp. 669–677.

Doronicheva E. V., Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B., Nedomolkin A. G., Shirobokov I. G., Shackley S. M., Petrov A., Maksimov F. Discovery of a new Epipaleolithic obsidian industry in Psytuaje Rockshelter, North-Central Caucasus, Russia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 2020, Is. 29, 102186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. jasrep.2019.102186

Formozov A. A. Etnokulturnye oblasti na territorii evropejskoi chasti SSSR v kamennom veke [Etnocultural areas on the European part of the USSR in the Stone Age]. Moscow, Academy of Sciences of the USSR Publ., 1959, 125 p. (In Russ.)

Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B. Imeretinskaya kultura v verkhnem paleolite Kavkaza: proshloe i nastoyashchee [Imereti culture in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus: the past and the future]. Pervobytnye drevnosti Evrazii. K 60-letiyu A. N.Sorokina [Prehistory of Eurasia. To the 60th anniversary of A. N. Sorokin]. Moscow, 2012, pp. 59–102. (In Russ.)

Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B. Environment, Culture and Subsistence of Humans in the Caucasus between 40,000 and 10,000 Years Ago. Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020, 569 p.

Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B., Doronicheva E. V. Novye dannye po paleolitu Prielbrusiya [The new data on the Paleolithic of the Elbrus region]. Rossiiskaya arkheologiya [Russian Archaeology]. 2019, Vol. 2, pp. 7–18. (In Russ.)

Golovanova L. V., Doronichev V. B., Doronicheva E. V., Nedomolkin A. G. Industries of the end of Upper Palaeolithic in the south of Russian plain (northeastern Azov Sea region) and the Northern Caucasus. Studies on the Palaeolithic of Western Eurasia. Proceedings of the XVIII UISPP World Congress (4–9 June 2018, Paris, France). Cambridge, 2021, Vol. 14, pp. 159–183.

Goring-Morris A. N. The Harifian of the southern Levant. The Natufian Culture in the Levant. International Monographs in Prehistory. Аrchaeological Series vol. l. Ann Arbor, 1991, pp. 173–234.

Jones E. R., Gonzalez-Fortes G., Connell S., Siska V., Eriksson A., Martiniano R., McLaughlin R. L., Gallego Llorente M., Cassidy L. M., Gamba C., Meshveliani T., Bar-Yosef O., Mueller W., Belfer-Cohen A., Matskevich Z., Jakeli N., Higham T., Currat M., Lordkipanidze D., Hofreiter M., Manica A., Pinhasi R., Bradley D. Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians. Nature Communications 6. 2015, 8912, pp. 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms9912

Kartal M. Anatolian Epi-Paleolithic Period Assemblages: Problems, Suggestions, Evaluations and Various Approaches. Anadolu/Anatolia. 2003, 24, pp. 45–62.

Khaikunova N. A., Vinogradova E. A. Kamennaya industriya kamennobalkovskoi kultury – sovremennoe sostoyanie issledovaniya (po materialam 2-go kulturnogo sloya stoyanok Kamennaya Balka 2 i Tretii Mys) [Lithic industry of the Kamennobalkovskaya culture – current state of research (on the materials of 2nd cultural layer of Kamennaya Balka 2 and Tretiy Mys sites)]. Istoricheskii zhurnal: nauchnye issledovaniya [Historical Journal: Scientific research]. 2020, Vol. 5, pp. 66–85. https://doi.org/10.7256/2454-0609.2020.5.34301 (In Russ.)

Korkia L. O. Apiancha. Novye nahodki [Apiancha. The new finds]. Paleolit Kavkaza i sopredelnykh territorij. Sbornik, posvyashchennyi 100-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya chlen-korrespondenta AN GSSR, professora G. K. Nioradze [Paleolithic of the Caucasus and neighboring regions. Volume devoted to the 100th anniversary of Professor G. K. Nioradze]. Tbilisi, 1990, pp. 84–86. (In Russ.)

Krotova A. A. Kulturno-khronologicheskoe chlenenie pozdnepaleoliticheskikh pamyatnikov Yugo-Vostochnoi Ukrainy [Kultural-chronological periodization of Late Paleolithic sites in South-Eastern Ukraine]. Pamyatniki kamennogo veka Levoberezhnoi Ukrainy [Stone Age sites of Left border Ukraine]. Kiev, 1986, pp. 6–73. (In Russ.)

Leonova E. V. Predvaritelnye rezultaty novykh issledovanii peshchery Dvoinaya v Gubskom ushchelie [Preliminary results of new research at Dvoinaya cave in the Gubs gorge]. Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta arkheologii [Short Reports of the Institute of Archaeology]. 2014, Is. 236, pp. 11–15. (In Russ.)

Leonova E. V. K probleme khronologii i kulturnoi variabelnosti kamennykh industrii kontsa verkhnego paleolita i mezolita Severo-Zapadnogo Kavkaza (po materialam navesa Chygai i peshchery Dvoinaya) [To the problem of chronology and cultural variability of lithic industries of the late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic of the North-Western Caucasus (on materials of Chygai Rockshelter and Dvoinaya cave]. Traditsii i innovatsii v istorii i kulture: programma fundamentalnykh issledovanii Prezidiuma Rossiiskoi akademii nauk [Traditions and innobvations in history and culture: the program for fundamental research of the Presidium of Russian Academy of Sciences]. Moscow, 2015, pp. 77–87. (In Russ.)

Leonova E. V. Problemy chronologii i kulturnoi differentsiatsii posdney pory verhnego paleolita i mezolita Severnogo Kavkaza [Problems of chronology and cultural differentiation of the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of the North Caucasus]. Verhniy paleolit Evropy: vremya kulturnyh novatsii [Upper Paleolithic of Europe: a time of cultural innovations]. St. Petersburg, IHMC RAS. 2021a, pp. 121–123. (In Russ.)

Leonova E. V. Grot Sosruko: reviziya materialov iz raskopok S. N. Zamyatnina i radiouglerodnaya khronologiya verkhnikh sloev kamennogo veka [Sosruko Grotto: revision of materials from S.N. Zamyatnin excavations and radiocarbon chronology of the upper layers of the Stone Age]. Camera Praehistorica. 2021b, Is. 1, pp. 101–119. (In Russ.)

Liubin V. P. Paleolit Kavkaza [Paleolithic of the Caucasus]. Paleolit Kavkaza i Severnoi Azii [Paleolithic of the Caucasus and Northern Asia]. Leningrad, 1989, pp. 8–142. (In Russ.)

Macdonald D. A. Interpreting Variability Through Multiple Methodologies: The Interplay of Form and Function in Epipalaeolithic Microliths. A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, 2013. 283 p.

Macdonald D. A., Allentuck A., Maher L. A. Technological Change and Economy in the Epipalaeolithic: Assessing the Shift from Early to Middle Epipalaeolithic at Kharaneh IV. Journal of Field Archaeology. 2018, Vol. 43, Is. 6, pp. 437–456. https://doi.org/10.1080/00934690.2018.1504542/

Manko V. A. Sluchai interstratifikatsii v sloyakh pachki 3 stoyanki Grot Skalistyi i vopros o proiskhozhdenii krymskogo finalnogo paleolita [Cases of interstratifications in layers of bed 3 at Skalistiy grotto and the question of the origin of Crimean Upper Paleolithic]. Stratum plus. 2010, Vol. 1, pp. 245–262. (In Russ.)

Marder O., Gilead I. Geometric Kebaran sites in Nahal Rut Area, Western Negev, Israel. Paléorient. 1989, Vol. 15, Is. 2, pp. 123–137.

Мeshveliani T., Bar-Yosef O., Belfer-Cohen A. The Upper Paleolithic in Western Georgia. The Early Upper Paleolithic beyond Western Europe. University of California Press, 2004, pp. 129–143.

Meshveliani T., Bar-Oz G., Bar-Yosef O., Belfer-Cohen A., Boaretto E., Jakeli N., Koridze I., Matskevich Z. Mesolithic Hunters at Kotias Klde, Western Georgia: Preliminary results. Paléorient. 2007, Is. 33 (2), pp. 47–58.

Montoya C., Balasescu A., Joannin S., Ollivier V., Liagre J., Nahapetyan S., Ghukasyan R., Colonge D., Gasparyan B., Chataigner C. Upper Palaeolithic site of Kalavan 1 (Armenia): An Epigravettian settlement in the Lesser Caucasus. The Journal of Human Evolution. 2013, Is. 65, pp. 621–640.

Nedomolkin A. G. Tekhnologiya rasshchepleniya kamennogo syriya v verkhnem paleolite Severo-Zapadnogo Kavkaza : avtoref. … kand. ist. nauk [Lithic raw material knapping technology in the Upper Paleolithic of the North-Western Caucasus. Cand. histor. sci. syn. diss.]. Moscow, 2020, 35 p. (In Russ.)

Nioradze M. G., Otte M. Paléolithique supérieur de Géorgie. L’Anthropologie. 2000, Vol. 104, pp. 265–300. (In French)

Olszewski D. I. The Zarzian in the Context of the Epipaleolithic Middle East. International Journal of Humanities. 2012, Vol. 19 (3), pp. 1–20.

Otte M., Yalçınkaya I., Leotard J. M., Kartal M., Bar-Yosef O., Kozlowski J., Lopez-Bayon I., Marshack A. The Epi-Palaeolithic of Öküzini Cave (SW Anatolia) And Its Mobiliary Art. Antiquity. 1995, Is. 69, pp. 931–944

Pinhasi R., Meshveliani T., Matskevich Z., Bar-Oz G., Weissbrod L., Miller C. E., Wilkinson K., Lordkipanidze D., Jakeli N., Kvavadze E., Higham T. F. G., Belfer-Cohen A. Satsurblia: New Insights of Human Response and Survival across the Last Glacial Maximum in the Southern Caucasus. PLOS one. 2014, Vol. 9, Is. 10, pp. 1–16.

Reimer P. J., Austin W. E. N., Bard E., Bayliss A., Blackwell P. G., Ramsey C. B., Butzin M., Cheng H., Edwards R. L., Friedrich M., Grootes P. M., Guilderson T. P., Hajdas I., Heaton T. J., Hogg A. G., Hughen K. A., Kromer B., Manning S. W., Muscheler R., Palmer J. G., Pearson C., van der Plicht J., Reimer R. W., Richards D. A., Scott E. M., Southon J. R., Turney C. S. M., Wacker L., Adolphi F., Büntgen U., Capano M., Fahrni S. M., Fogtmann-Schulz A., Friedrich R., Köhler P., Kudsk S., Miyake F., Olsen J., Reinig F., Sakamoto M., Sookdeo A., Talamo S. The IntCal20 Northern Hemisphere radiocarbon age calibration curve (0–55 cal kBP). Radiocarbon. 2020, Vol. 62, Is. 4, pp. 725–757.

Richter Т., Maher L. A. Terminology, process and change: reflections on the Epipalaeolithic of South-west Asia. Council for British Research in the Levant. 2013, Vol. 45, Is. 2, pp. 121–132.

Rogachev A. N. Nekotorye voprosy izucheniya epipaleolita Vostochnoi Evropy [Some aspects of Epipaleolithic study in Eastern Europe]. U istokov drevnikh kultur (epokha mezolita): materialy i issledovaniya po arkheologii SSSR [At the origins of ancient cultures (Mesolithic era): materials and research on the archaeology of the USSR]. Moscow, Leningrad, 1966, Vol. 126, pp. 9–13. (In Russ.)

Seletskii M. V., Shnaider S. V. Tekhnologiya rasshchepleniya kamnya v epipaleolite Vostochnogo Prielbrusiya po materialam pamyatnika naves Badynoko [Lithic knapping technology in the Epipaleolithic of eastern Elbrus region on the materials from Badynoko Rockshelter]. Evraziya v Kainozoe. Stratigrafiya, paleoekologiya, kultury [Eurazia in Cenozoic. Stratigraphy, Paleoecology, Cultures]. 2018, Is. 7, pp. 184–192. (In Russ.)

Tixier J. Typologie de l’epipaleolithique en Maghreb. Paris, Arts et métiers graphiques, 1963, 212 p. (In French)

Tushabramishvili D. M. Paleoliticheskie ostatki v peshere Gvardjilas-klde [Paleolithic remains in Gvardjilas-Klde Cave]. Tbilisi, 1960. (In Georgian with abstr. in Russ.)

Tushabramishvili N., Pleurdeau D., Moncel M.-H., Agapishvili T., Vekua A., Bukhsianidze M., Maureille B., Muskhelishvili A., Mshvildadze M., Kapanadze N. Human remains from a new upper Pleistocene sequence in Bondi cave (western Georgia). Journal of Human Evolution. 2012, Is. 62, pp. 179–185.

Tushabramishvili D. M., Vekua A. K. Paleolit Gruzii. Chetvertichnaya sistema Gruzii [Paleolithic of Georgia. Quaternary system of Georgia]. Tbilisi, 1982, 214 p. (In Russ.)

Vinogradova E. A. Kharakternye osobennosti kamennogo inventarya verkhnepaleoliticheskoi stoyanki Kamennaya balka 2 (osnovnoi sloi) [Characteristic features of lithic inventory from Upper Paleolithic site Kamennaya Balka 2 (the main layer)]. Trudy 4 (20) Vserossiiskogo arkheologicheskogo siezda [Annals of 4 (20) All-Russian archaeological meeting]. Kazan, 2014, pp. 36–41. (In Russ.)

Voevodskii M. V. K voprosu o razvitii epipaleolita v Vostochnoi Evrope [To the question of Epipaleolithic development in Eastern Europe]. Sovetskaya arkheologiya [Soviet Archaeology]. 1940, Vol. 5, pp. 144–150. (In Russ.)

Weinstein-Evron M., Yeshurun R., Ashkenazy H., Chasan R., Rosenberg D., Bachrach N., Boaretto E., Caracuta V., Kaufman D. Deeper in the Natufian Layers of el- Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society. 2018, Vol. 48, pp. 5–61.

Yaroshevitch A. Tekhnologicheskie aspekty mikroliticheskikh elementov metatelnykh orudii na primere kultury geometricheskogo kebara v Levante i industrii epigravetta v Vostochnoi Evrope [Technological aspects of microlithic elements of projectile tools on the materials of Geometric kebarian culture in Levant and Epigravettian in Eastern Europe]. Arkheologiya, etnografiya i antropologiya Evrazii [Archaeology, Ethnography, and Anthropology in Eurasia]. 2006, Vol. 4 (28), pp. 8–17. (In Russ.)

Zamyatnin S. N. Paleolit Zapadnogo Zakavkaziya [Paleolithic of Western Transcaucasia]. Sbornik MAE. T. 1. Paleoliticheskie peshchery Imeretii. T. XVIII [The MAE (Kunstkamera). Vol. 1. Paleolithic caves of Imeretia. Vol. XVIII]. Leningrad, 1957, pp. 432–499. (In Russ.)

Zamyatnin S. N., Akritas P. G. Raskopki grota Sosruko v 1955 godu [Excavations of Sosruko grotto in 1955].Uchenye zapiski Kabardino-Balkarskogo nauchnoissledovatelskogo instituta. [Scientific issues of Kabardino-Balkarian research institute]. Nalchik, 1957, Vol. 13, pp. 431–455. (In Russ.)

Full text (russian)