Mamontovaya Kurya

    محمد جلال عبد الغني
    محمد جلال عبد الغني
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    university : أسيوط
    تاريخ التسجيل : 25/11/2007

    Mamontovaya Kurya

    مُساهمة من طرف محمد جلال عبد الغني في 2008-03-25, 11:57 am

    Mamontovaya Kurya:bball:

    (Mamontovaya Kurya - "bend in the river where mammoth bones are found")

    Human presence in the European Arctic nearly 40 000 years ago

    Authors: Pavel Pavlov, John Inge Svendsen, Svein Indrelid

    Text and images except where otherwise noted adapted from: Nature Vol 413, 6 September 2001

    Traces of human occupation nearly 40 000 years old have been discovered at Mamontovaya Kurya, a Palaeolithic site situated in the European part of the Russian Arctic. It was previously generally believed that this vast region was not colonized by humans until the final stage of the last Ice Age some 13 000 - 14 000 years ago.

    At the site stone artefacts, animal bones and a mammoth tusk with human-made marks were recovered from strata covered by thick Quaternary deposits. This is the oldest documented evidence for human presence at this high latitude. It implies that either the Neanderthals expanded much further north than previously thought or that modern humans were present in the Arctic only a few thousand years after their first appearance in Europe.

    Title of article: Mamontovaya Kurya: an enigmatic, nearly 40 000 years old Paleolithic site in the Russian Arctic
    Authors: Pavel Pavlov, John Inge Svendsen
    Caption: Photograph showing the find-bearing strata (I) near the base of the exposed sediments at Mamontovaya Kurya. The brownish layers with bones and artifacts are covered by younger alluvial (II and III) and aeolian deposits (IV and V).

    Map showing the location of the Palaeolithic sites Mamontovaya Kurya and Byzovaya discussed in the text and the maximum extent of the Eurasian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum (21 000±18 000 yr BP). The area within which Neanderthal remains have been found is indicated with a dotted line. The location of radiocarbondated European sites with skeletal remains of late Neanderthals and early modern humans are also shown: A, Arcy-sur-Cure; K, Kent's Cavern; M, Mazmaiskaya; Vi, Vindija; Vo, Vogelherd; Z, Zafarraya; and Q, Qufzeh. Numbers in parentheses indicate radiocarbon ages ( x 103 yr BP).

    (Thus a number written as (36) indicates an age of 36 000 years before the present, the present being defined as 1950. - Don)

    The Mamontovaya Kurya site is located on the southern bank of the Usa river, at 53 metres above sea level, at the Arctic circle at 66° 34' N; 62° 25' E, close to the polar Urals. The riverbed at this site has been known as a place for finding mammoth tusks and bones since the end of the 18th century, but finds of artefacts have not previously been reported. In order to clarify the stratigraphic context of these bones and to find out if they could be related to early human activities, archaeological and geological field investigations were carried out during the summer seasons of 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997.

    Photo left: Nature Vol 413, 6 September 2001
    Photo right:
    Title of article: Mamontovaya Kurya: an enigmatic, nearly 40 000 years old Paleolithic site in the Russian Arctic
    Authors: Pavel Pavlov, John Inge Svendsen

    Many animal bones and several stone artefacts were uncovered from the basal layers of a 12 - 13 metre high river bluff which is cut into the terrace along a bend in the river. The finds, which were scattered throughout the excavated area (48 m2) without any clear concentrations, were incorporated in cross-bedded gravel and sand that accumulated on the floor of an old river channel. Many of the bones uncovered were encapsulated in silt and we also noticed frequent mud clasts (Clasts are defined as broken pieces of older weathered and eroded rocks within another rock more recently formed. Here it means a lump of mud found within a different deposit such as sand or gravel - Don) within the basal part of the find-bearing channel deposit, which probably reflects slumping from an ancient river terrace covered by over-bank mud. In all, 123 mammalian bones, primarily mammoth (114), but also horse (2), reindeer (5) and wolf (2), were collected. See the table below.

    Mammuthus primigenius Blum
    (woolly mammoth)
    Rangifer tarandus L.
    Canis lupus L.
    Equus caballus
    7 ribs1 antler1 metacarpal2 teeth
    1 pelvis1 pelvis1 unspecified
    2 tusks1 shoulder
    1 lower jaw2 unspecified
    1 skull fragment
    3 teeth, upper jaw
    2 vertebrae
    70 unspecified mammoth

    The most important find was a 1.3 metre long tusk from a young, 6 to 8 year old female mammoth which exhibits a series of distinct grooves (Figs 3 and 4). The marks are 1-2 mm deep, 0.5-1 cm long and appear as densely spaced rows of lines lying crosswise along the tusk. Microscopic analysis reveals that the grooves were made by chopping with a sharp stone edge, unequivocally the work of humans. It is uncertain whether the marks were formed during processing while using the tusk as an anvil, or if they reflect intentional marks with artistic or symbolic meaning.

    (The use of the tusk as an anvil seems to me to be the most likely cause. The tusk would have been a convenient "stop" for the knife or axe when cutting something else, to avoid damaging the edge of the brittle stone implement on the rocks on which it would otherwise impact - Don)

    The following is from :

    The mammoth tusk with incision marks is of special importance. Preliminary microscope analysis suggests that the marks were inflicted when the ivory was still fresh and that they were most likely made shortly after the mammoth died.

    Photo far left:
    Title of article: Mamontovaya Kurya: an enigmatic, nearly 40 000 years old Paleolithic site in the Russian Arctic
    Authors: Pavel Pavlov, John Inge Svendsen

    Photo centre: Espelie, Erin M., Natural History, 00280712, Feb 2002, Vol. 111, Issue 1

    Black and White photo: Nature Vol 413, 6 September 2001

    The stone artefacts that were excavated from the same strata comprise five unmodified stone flakes, a straight side-scraper on a massive cortical blade and a bifacial tool.

    The edges of the stone artefacts are sharp and the tusks and bones show minimal signs of wear, indicating a very short transportation and that the materials were swiftly buried by alluvial deposits. The few artefacts are not diagnostic and resemble Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian as well as the earliest Upper Palaeolithic assemblages in eastern Europe, a time interval which is also in accordance with the radiocarbon dates discussed below. Similar bifaces are reported for Late Mousterian sites on Crimea, for instance Zaskalnaya V, but they are also known from early Upper Palaeolithic complexes in Eastern Europe, among them Kostenki XII at the Don river. However, we are not able to determine the cultural affiliation on the basis of the sparse material found.

    Photo: Nature Vol 413, 6 September 2001
    Caption: Drawings of the mammoth tusk with human-made marks, a side-scraper and a bifacial stone tool (knife?) that were uncovered from the excavated river channel deposits at the Mamontovaya Kurya section.

    The OSL dates (calendar years), measured on quartz grains in the sand grain fraction, were produced at the Nordic Laboratory for Luminescence Dating, Risù National Laboratory, Denmark. The radiocarbon dates (14Cyr BP) were carried out at various laboratories. Beta, Beta analytic; ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology AMS Facility; T, Trondheim Radiocarbon Laboratory; TUa, prepared at the Trondheim and measured at the accelerator at the Svedberg Laboratory, Uppsala; LU, St Petersburg University The bones and tusks were in good condition, well suited for radiocarbon dating. The tusk with incision marks was radiocarbon dated to 36 660 14C years before present (yr BP) and three other bones from the same unit yielded similar ages in the range of 34 400 to 37 400 yr BP. This time interval is close to the maximum limit for obtaining accurate radiocarbon dates.

    Pollen analysis of the alluvial silt clasts that were found in association with the bones reflects a treeless steppe environment dominated by herbs and grasses, presumably with local stands of willow scrubs (Salix spp) along the river banks.

    Human occupation probably occurred during a relatively mild interlude of the last Ice Age, although the climate at this time was probably considerably colder and more continental than today. This mild interlude may correspond with the Hengelo interstadial (39 000 to 36 000 yr BP) in western Europe. A palaeo-environmental reconstruction suggests that the landscapes in The Netherlands and northern Germany and eastwards were then covered by a shrub tundra. The northern rim of the Eurasian continent was evidently not glaciated and probably only small mountain glaciers existed in the Ural Mountains. The Scandinavian ice sheet was probably much smaller than during the Last Glacial Maximum some 20 000 yr BP.

    Reconstructed geological history at Mamontovaya Kurya. According to this interpretation the bones and artefacts slumped into the former Usa river soon after they were left on the riverbank 35-40 000 years ago. The findbearing strata were subsequently covered by younger alluvial and aeolian sediments. The present river started to incise into the sediment sequence around 14 000 years ago and exposed the layers with bones and artifacts along the present river bank.

    Photo and text: Mamontovaya Kurya: an enigmatic, nearly 40 000 years old Paleolithic site in the Russian Arctic
    Authors: Pavel Pavlov, John Inge Svendsen

    The fact that humans were present in this area as early as around 36 000 yr BP leads us to reassess the history of the earliest human occupation in the Arctic. Until now, the oldest known Palaeolithic sites in the Eurasian Arctic are dated to 13 000 to 14 000 yr BP.

    However, there is an early Upper Palaeolithic site close to the Byzovaya village along the Pechora river, approximately 300 km to the southwest of Mamontovaya Kurya. At this site nearly 300 artefacts and more than 4 000 animal bones (mainly of mammoth) have been unearthed during several excavations. An early Upper Palaeolithic age has recently been supported by 13 radiocarbon dates on bones from the find-bearing layer which have yielded ages in the range of 26 000 to 29 000 yr BP with a mean of about 28 000 yr BP.


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