ISSN 2227-2380 (Print)

List of issues > «Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series». 2017. Vol. 19

Initial Colonization of the Upper Vychegda River Valley in the Context of Geomorphological Conditions in the Late Glacial – Early Holocene: Mesolithic Sites Parch 1 and 2

A. V. Volokitin, A. V. Panin, N. E. Zaretskaya
Mesolithic sites Parch 1 and 2 were discovered in 1984–1985 and the excavations on them continued with short pauses until 2003. The sites are situated on the high floodplain level on the left bank of the upper part of Vychegda River. At the moment, the floodplain in this place is actively corrupted by the river lateral erosion. This factor has greatly impacted the process of investigation. We reexamined stratigraphic sections of Parch 1 and Parch 2 sites and analogues to the Parch 3 site in 2013 during the field research. Cultural remains at sites are buried in the overbank alluvia. Geomorphic position of Parch 1 is the crest of a levee and cultural remains are found at the depth of 60–65 cm. Parch 2 is located at the outer side of the same levee. Remains of surface dwellings were found at the depth of around 2.0 m in the section, in the lower part of the overbank alluvia. Two 14C dates of 9.1 and 9.5 ka BP (uncal) prove the Early Holocene age of the site. The third section described in this study is equal to the Parch 3 site studied in the late 1980s. The section located in the bottom of a hollow that belongs to the younger generation of the floodplain. Cultural remains are found at the base of overbank alluvia. The similarity of stratigraphic position of cultural remains means possible synchronism of Parch 2 and 3 and their possible affiliation with the same site Parch 2. Stratigraphic position of Parch 1 points at its younger age. However, both Parch 1 and 2 sites have similar stone industry. The technique-typological characteristics (knapping technology and the morphology of the toolkit) coincide with those of the Butovo Mesolithic archaeological culture in Volga-Oka region, which makes ground for suggestion of common origin of the Butovo and Parch archaeological cultures. The floodplain has levee-hollow morphology, which is indicative of the former process of lateral shift of the river, and was radiocarbon dated to 11.1 ka BP (uncal). Analysis of valley's geomorphology provided the conclusion that the river channel was highly dynamic in the Late Glacial due to probably higher water discharge and higher magnitude floods, and both geomorphological and hydrological instability may be the reason of the absence of the Late Paleolithic in the Vychegda valley. Stabilization at the onset of the Holocene favored human occupation of the valley bottom.
Vychegda River, Holocene, Mesolithic, geoarchaeology, fluvial geomorphology, paleohydrology, river floodplain, alluvium

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