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Stratum Plus. 2000. № 1

A. E. Marks, K. Monigal (Dallas, USA)

The Middle to Upper Paleolithic Interface in Crimea, with Particular Reference to Buran-Kaya-III, Eastern Crimea

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Pages: 84-96


The Crimean site of Buran-Kaya-III, a partially collapsed rockshelter on the Burulcha River, just south of Belogorsk, has a remarkably long stratigraphic sequence, spanning from the Neolithic to the late Middle Paleolithic. It is the only known site on the peninsula, furthermore, to contain both Upper Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic occupations, but while the expected stratigraphic sequence would have an Early Upper Paleolithic (Aurignacian) overlying a «transitional» industry, which itself should overly a terminal Mousterian, this is not the case. The lower part of the stratigraphic sequence at Buran-Kaya-III is as follows, from top to bottom, with their associated absolute dates: The Aurignacian assemblage is quite small, but displays some similarities to the occupations at Siuren I in western Crimea, which is dated to the same time. The assemblage of Level B is in every way quite typical of the Kiik Koba type Micoquian, although the dates are unexpectedly young. The underlying three assemblages are all unknown in Crimea, and their presence suggests that in eastern Crimea, at least the Middle Paleolithic continued unabated, while changes were taking place elsewhere. Level C, referred to provisionally as an Eastern Szeletian, is a completely bifacial industry with both Middle and Upper Paleolithic tool types, including finely made asymmetric bifacial knives and bifacially retouched trapezoidal microliths. In addition, the assemblage contains numerous bone tubes, possibly used as handles. While the Level C type assemblage is unknown elsewhere in Crimea, elements in the assemblage, particularly the specific bifacial reduction strategies, point to connections with the early Streletskayan assemblages of the Kostienki-Borshchevo region and may represent an early manifestation of that development. The assemblage from Level D represents a washed scattering of artifacts. It is quite small and dominated by chips and broken artifacts so that it is difficult to characterize; tools are limited to a few sidescrapers, denticulates, and retouched pieces. On the other hand, the assemblage from Level E, while still rather small, is quite distinctive. The reduction strategy apparent in the materials is almost exclusively hard hammer prismatic blade, although the few retouched tools have no Upper Paleolithic character; they are quite typically Middle Paleolithic for Crimea. While work is ongoing at Buran-Kaya-III, it is apparent that the period spanning the terminal Middle Paleolithic into the Early Upper Paleolithic in Crimea was quite complex, with numerous groups moving in and out of the area, with seemingly little effect on each other. The late dates for the end of the Crimean Middle Paleolithic at this and other sites on the peninsula, suggests that the Micoquian and Mousterian groups persisted until quite late and were at least partially contemporaneous with sporadic Aurignacian occupations after 30,000 BP.

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