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2021-04-10 13:52:32   •   ID: 2247

A Streletskian point from Suschky (Ukraine; Poltawa Region)

Figure 1
This is a very typical Streletskian Point from Suschky near Poltava (Ukraine) (6x4x0,4 cm) made from a very fine and homogeneous quartzite.

Other items were made from high quality flint. Streletskian Points are flat, triangular points with a concave base characterized by a bifacial covering retouch.

Such tools may be be strictly isosceles triangles or show an elongated triangular character. The concave base and the bifacial covering retouche are the most important hallmarks for a strict definition.

These artifacts were originally described by A.N. Rogachev (1957) from the Streletskaya site or Kostenki 6 station from the Kostenki-Borshchevo region at the Don in Russia.

During the following years Russian researchers coined the the term "Streletskaya point" (N.D. Prazlov), which is still worldwide in use today. If you are looking for a "fossil directeur" in the Paleolithic-here it is!

In analogy to other projectiles, Streletskaya points were probably dart-points propelled by spear-throwers.The dimension of the point shown here, is typical for these projectiles.

Together with this unique points, bifacial leaf-shaped points, "Poplar leaf points" and small endscrapers with continuous edge retouch, producing a roughly triangular or thumbnail design are also characteristic for the Streletskian.

Figure 2
Basic information about the Streletskian was already given in this Blog- see -here 2053 .

Here I will give a short update about new findings and interpretations, generated by international pluridisciplinar teams which try to overcome the discrepancies, that were probably inevitable due to different excavation methods, different interpretive approaches, National research traditions and the development or improvement of new dating methods in the past. I will focus on three questions:

  • 1. What do we know about the spatial expansion of the techno-complex?


  • 2. What do we know about the beginning and the end of the techno-complex?


  • 3. does it make any sense to assign the Streletskian to a Middle or Upper Paleolithic and does the term "transitional industry" make any sense?


ad1: The known Streletskaya sites are concentrated in the Kostenki-Borshchevo area of the Middle Don Region. Traditionally Kostenki 1-Layer V, Kostenki 6, Kostenki 11-Layer V and Kostenki12 were ascribed to the Streletskian.

The most important site has been found at Sungir in the Klyazma Basin. In addition Bradley (1995) ascribed Biryuchya Balka on the Lower Severski Donets and Garchi 1 on the Lower Kama, in the Ural Region to the Streletskian. I suggest that more material could be found in local museums.

Suschky, the find spot of our Point would be localized on the Western Edge of the Streletskian sphere. The nearest distance to the above mentioned stations is at least c 400 km - not too much regarding the vast extension of the East Europan plain, with a low number of geographical barriers.

Figure 3
We should also consider the low number of known Paleolithic sites, most of them are deeply buried in loess leading to a still limited knowledge about the Paleolithic over the East European plain, biased by the Geomorphology of the region.

ad2: Dinnis at al. in 2021 published an extensive review of the older and new excavations for a more stringent Definition of the Streletskian of the Kostenki-Borshchevo region. A comprehensive Publication about the important Sungir site was recently published by Otte et al.

A critical reading by Dennis et al. revealed that Kostenki 1 North was far the best preserved area, undisturbed by taphonomic processes.

This layer contained the typical Streletskian Points and revealed a new C-14 date of 35,1 ± 0,5 k.a. BP, similar to older dates and was therefore deposited prior to deposition of the CI tephra ( >34.3 k.a. BP or 39 k.a. Cal BP respectively).

The AMS data were obtained by the isolation of hydroxyproline, an amino-acid, that is found almost uniquely in mammalian collagen. The method is suggested to be superior to remove contaminations from bone samples.

Kostenki 6 (Streletskaya 1 and 2) is of similar age and the characteristic artifacts were embedded prior to the deposition of the CI tephra. Although Kostenki 6 represents only a small artifactual sample (n=50), it nevertheless revealed the diagnostic Points and a larger bifacial knife. The non-bifacial ensemble contains typical Upper Paleolithic material, including one typical Dufour bladelet .

There are several problems with Kostenki 12, which consists of two strata, that seem to be partially intermixed. There is an unusual high number of typical Middle Paleolithic artifacts, only two typical diagnostic points, while other bifaces are rather similar to triangular points of the Moravany-Dlah-subtype with a convex base and crude elongated leaf-points.

It has to be mentioned, that the oldest technocomplexes at Kostenki (Kostenki 17 Layer II and Kostenki 14 Layer IVw) are about 1-2 k.a. older than the local Streletskian and show a fully Upper Paleolithic character, with affinities to the Protoaurignacian.

Figure 4
Localities, that have been detected outside the Kostenki area have already described in post 2053

Of great interest remains the Sungir site, dated to 33-34 k.a. BP by the hydroxiproline method, but maybe 2-4 k.a younger.

Beside an upper lithic inventory and diagnostic isosceles and elongated Streletskian points, Sungir is the site of the most strange and complex Upper Palaeolithic burials of at least 10 persons in Europe- see here: SUNGIR

ad 3: I have already criticized the term "transitional industries" in an earlier post. In my view the Streletskian is principally an Early Upper Palaeolithic Industry. Bifacial Elements are no proof for a Middle Paleolithic or have to be always linked with an preceding eastern Micoquian.

They appear in Upper Paleolithic technocomplexes in the East European Plain quite often. The same could be said about scrapers and denticulated tools at some sites.

A good example is the Mira Horse-Butchering Site near the center of the floodplain of the Middle Dnepr River with C-14 dates on two occupation layers at around ~32 k.a. cal BP. Beside backed bladelets, the lithic ensembles includes different side- scrapers including convergent scrapers / points, limaces and bifacial plano-convex points- similar to Moravany Dlah examples.

The equation that a flake based and bifacial technology is the signature of Neanderthals maybe valid only for Western Europe.

The makers of the Streletskian, especially at Kostenki remain unknown. Anyhow we should resume that the North European Plain was probably no an adequate habitat for Neanderthals.

Suggested Reading:

Le Sungirien par S. Vasylyev, A. Sinitsyn, M. Otte (edit.) ERAUL147; 2018

E Trinkaus et al.:The People of Sunghir: Burials, Bodies, and Behavior in the Earlier Upper Paleolithic (Human Evolution Series); 2018

Did you know?:

The Battle of Poltava was a resounding victory for Peter the Great. He defeated Charles the XII and 14,000 Swedish cavalry with a superior force of 45,000 Russian soldiers. The battle lasted all day with the outnumbered Swedish soldiers making several valiant efforts against the superior Russian forces.

Ultimately the Swedish soldiers had taken too many losses to effectively continue the battle and Charles retreated to Moldavia for five years before he could finally return to Sweden. The captured Swedish soldiers were taken to St. Petersburg and they helped to build the great city.

From October 1941 to January 1942 the Germans attempted the invasion of Moscow and then suffered a counter-attack after the city had been defended. Operation Barbarossa called for the Nazis to capture Moscow in four months but the brutal Russian winter and the lessons of Napoleon were ignored.

The Battle of Smolensk slowed the Wehrmacht down and the tide was completely reversed at Moscow. - From The sin of underestimation