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Dating an ancient Russian 'revolution.' (Siberian Kara-Bom site research indicates that transition from stone-tool culture to tool technology occurred 7,000 years earlier than previously believed) (Brief Article)

Siberia, once renowned as a frigid prison for Soviet dissidents, now proves hospitable to Russian archaeologists studying human prehistory. Their exploration of a site settled by successive waves of ancient peoples indicates that the move from a simple stone-tool culture to a more sophisticated tool technology in central Asia occurred at least 43,000 years ago, about 7,000 years earlier than researchers had thought.

Other investigations have also dated this transition - which signaled revolutionary changes in human thought and behavior - to more than 40,000 years ago in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe (SN: 12/16/89, p.388).

Anatoli P. Derevianko and Valerii T. Petrin, both from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, have directed excavations since 1987 at a Siberian site called KaraBom. They have identified seven separate occupations of the. site, each displaying a distinctive style of advanced stone-tool manufacture. A rich trove of animal bones has also emerged, including the remains of horses, woolly rhinoceroses, bison, yaks, antelope, and cave hyenas.

In 1991, Ted Goebel of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks retrieved charcoal samples from four occupation layers at Kara-Bom. Much of the charcoal probably came from fires or hearths tended by humans, according to Goebel. An advanced radiocarbon-dating technique, which separates and counts carbon atoms of different mass in small samples, yielded charcoal ages in the deepest occupation layer ranging from around 31,000 to 43,000 years old, Goebel, Derevianko, and Petrin report in the August-October CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 2, 1993
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