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Stratum Plus. 2000. № 1

G. F. Korobkova (St.-Petersburg, Russia), M. D. Djurakulov (Samarkand, Uzbekistan)

The Site of Samarkand as a Model of the Upper Palaeolithic in the Middle Asia (Peculiarities of Chipping Technique and Economic Activities)

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Pages: 385-462

The publication by G. F. Korobkova and M. D. Djurakulov reveals the results of the complex research of the upper cultural layer of the Samarkand’s site. It is the key-site for the Central Asia Upper Palaeolithic. Since 1939 when N. G. Harlamov discovered the site, it has become an object of the intense studies of archaeologists, geologists, palaeontologists, pollynologists and other scientists. It was M. V. Voevodskyi who stood at the beginning of the site research. Further research of the site is connected with the name of D. N. Lev, who carried out the excavations there from 1958 till 1967. The publication of the excavations results and the interpretation of their cultural and chronological position appeared as the result of his research. The proven character of the site as a multilayered object, the richness and the peculiarities of the materials made it the key site for Central Asia and the adjacent areas. Three or partly four levels of habitation are represented on the lower terrace, following the opinions of the geologists (Nesmeyanov 1980). The area of 800 sq. m. is excavated on the lower terrace. The next excavations done in 1967–72 by M. D. Djurakulov and E. N. Amartzeva fixed the older horizon connected with the lower sediments of the upper terrace. The peculiarity of the Samarkand’s site industry is manifested in the combination of the crude Mousterian elements of the previous epoch and the progressive traits of Upper Palaeolithic as the innovations. Present together with pebble-tools (choppers, chopping-tools, side-scrapers, axes, hews, discoid and of Levallois type cores) are burins, grooved-tools, gouges, microscrapers (round and of end-type), chisels, microcores and other artefacts. All of it provoked different opinions concerning the age and the interpretation of the assemblage. Several researchers (D.N.Lev, P.P.Efimenko, P.I.Boriskovskyi and some others) dated the Samarkand’s site to 40 000 b. p. The others (V.A.Ranov, S.A.Nesmeyanov, G.F.Korobkova) supposed a date within the second half of Upper Palaeolithic, about 20 000 b. p. The recent excavations in the upper terrace made several corrections in the dating and in the interpretation of the site. First of all, the lower layer of the upper terrace gave the earliest materials. They are not numerous, but we have to use them, because a new excavation of the site is impossible now. Second, all the area of the site was not inhabited at the same time. The upper terrace (the level of lower horizon) was settled first and then were settled the lower terrace and the upper levels of the upper terrace. Third, a stable and flourishing production – chipping of stone and stone tools production, cutting of the carcasses of killed animals, preparation of skins and wood works were fixed on the area of the site by the methods of traceology. The high percentage of the tools (25,8 %) and their strong utilisation enabled a suggestion that Samarkand’s site was a base camp of steppe-and-desert hunters for wild horse, ass and aurochs. The abundance of the local raw materials was reflected in the dissipated nature of stone chipping and tools production. The reference of some scholars to the similarities between the Samarkand’s site and the sites of Malta-Buret culture and also some Yenisei area sites is not adequate. The similarities can be explained rather as epochal and regional ones, which looked as a contribution to the Upper Palaeolithic mode. We can’t ignore also the fact that all of the sites in comparison are from the same large common sphere of the Asian-Siberian Upper Palaeolithic cultures.

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