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I'EOJIOI?NEC~ MHCTkfTYT PAH
m M ~ O M PA T~ E P ~ H KO Y~ ~~ T Y P PAH
E.M. rqa,B.B. numynb~o
h m n y umpm m a r e p m o l ~yrn~ypu
The Russian-American 'Zbokhov-2000" project made it possible
chaeo1ogid and naturaI-science research in 2000. Supported by the Rock Foundation under
Edmond Carpenter, the range of the research could have been considerably diversified and wid-
T w e d o g M and t e h n d o g i d reseaFch
Tmceological and technological research of the Prokhov site materials are of particular importance primarily due to the necessity of a fuller reconstruction of ancient production activities
occurring on its territory.
For lithic industries of the Stone Age, technology of blades and bladelets production to be used
as inserts makes a unique example of a repeated we of one complicatd h p p i a g tschnique complex at the Zhokhov site.
This technology is meant to exclusively produce medial hgments of straight profile bladelets
and a very high degree of other pmmters identification. Description and record of all the hap
ping products relatbd to the context of their production at the Plokhov site makes it possible not
only to estimate specification of *'puren tachnological complex quantities, but also to evaluate the
level of the Mesolithic production.
Multiplicity, variety and an exceptionally good condition of insert tools with survived handles
enable us to r w h more accurately define traces of use; they also allow comparing them to similar
items originating from other sites, where handles did not survive.
Now we can be positive in saying that Zhokhov materials allow defining and widening our
ideas of the ways the insert composite tools were used on rhe whole, and the knives in particular.
Preliminary results show they were used not only in butchering, but also for wood,ivory and wider
treatment. We are offered a unique chance to examine a question of a possible poIyhnctiona1 use
of some of them.
Examining these items under microscope of small magnification (MBS 10 and MSPEl up to
1Wpower) revealed deliberate, though very fine retouch -on a number of items.
The retouch found on Zhokhov bladelets is mostly obtuse, but not abrupt. Some retouch scars
are so fine, one cannot often see them with a naked eye. So far, the way the retouch is made is not
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the edge retouch is one sided, one row, sufficiently
regular (Picture 1:A).
The most part of the fttow:hed items arc inserts of composite tools. All of them are made form
medial parts of stmight profile bldelets. A non-working lengthwise edge meant to be inserted in a
f k m was retouched. More rarely retouch is found on the ends of inserts.
Some other tools whose function is to be defined were made with the help of microretouch.
Among these Ieast of a11 studied forms, there is a group of bladelet hgments with two retouched
edges and a preserved proximal end. Micro-burin spalls, a rwadbd edge and pobhbg often occur
on the broken distal end that most likely presented a working part. A few similar items with a
pointed end, bearing alternate edge retouch were found. Most ~ k c l ya, part of these items wih retouch on two lengthwise sides was used as tools for cutting grooves in frames, others have similar
loddng traces due to their being wed as perforators.
Hence, one can s u m h e that only adaptation tool elements were retouched in the plokhov
cultural tradition. A sharp edge of a non-treated blade-& flake was used as the principal working
In the Zhokhov industry, apart from retouch, one more kind of a secondary treatment was used
to manufacture tools from flint blradelets: grinding. This is a technology fundamentally new for the
Stone Age archaeology, presently, it has not my analogues. Tram of treatment of this "exotic"
kind occur on various parts of b l a d e l ~for
grinding of lengthwise sides of proximal fragments of bladelets to blunt them at the right angle
(Picture 2: A, B).
grinding of ridges on proximd and d i d dorsal fragments of bladelets (Picture 2: C; 3; 4);
So far, the purpo~eof tha treatment of tbis kind is not completely clear to us. What is obvious,
it is diverse and ambiguous. Possibly, it both makes the inserts thinner to facilitate their putting
into a p v e and forms wo-g
elements of some took: fine trimming of working
parts (sharpening &or blunting).
Practically all the imerh in frames and many inserts found without them have a very special
damage of the cutting edge: IdiIisation w
h (Picture 1: B,C, D)&me main difference between
this particular kind of the edge of Madelet d f i c a t i o n and that of delihate retouch is as follows:
its bigger h,
lesser degree of its regularity;
position on both sides of one edge;
more p r o n o u d number of rows,
Most of all, this kind of damage reminds of classicai traces of bard mamials sawing/cutting.
Cutting edges of inserts show micro traces of use wear typical for the Stone Age sites:
of maat carving (Picture 5);
meat raw hide;
antler, bone, ivory.
A combined tool for cutting hide oonsisting of a wooden base, flint insert and sinew banding
can exemplify a surprisingly simple and rational solution for fixing an insert inside a handle (Picture 6). Judging fiom aa
in the handle, the tool was not meant for temporary we, it was
either suspended -where
(eat,when using, it was secured on the hand with a loop), or worn at
the belt and was possibly d
d Tbe flint cutting edge of thii item shows WCU pronounced
hide cutting hwes comp1cx. This curious highly spacialid tool is a knife for cutting hides baving
almost "a museum item" la& ( P b m 7).
i and macro w e w a r seat on ftagments of various kinds of large and small sledges sldd
f d in the cultural layer can we11 bs cornpad to ethnogaphkd
d has tto analogues
among 0th admwIogical sites. In this case we art confronted with a d r y to work out a
new field of twmlogical d:
tracoology of woodare situated on the lower part of the skid, wbere they twch the grouad. They represent gmmd smoothing nut of the skid surf- and, as in most -,
its entire polishing. Any
rough grooves or scmchss are absent on the polished surface. It is very smmh and shining. It is
to be f d out in the future what kind of g m d leave d tmca~
Thanks to excqtiondy we11
organic a d k t s , rbe rage of potentially roconrstructible kinds of activities of the ancient hhabitmts of the site is amazingly wide. These activities can
stone h a p p i i
stone tnatmcnt by po1ishing;
manuand me of c o m t e toob (W,antler, ivory in combhation with stone);
mammoth iwrty m
t and reideer mtkr tTeatmcnt (splitting, h p h g by bewing, planing
baskmy d,pssibly, mat manufacture;
wood matment (splitting, shaping by hewing, planing d cutting) to build living dweIling,
mwl faciiitk, cooking utensils, implements;
use of travel facilities (various Id& of sledges).
This tist is far from king compsete.
TecbooIogical contexts comparative analysis ~
~ dl t b nc t y p s gof activities shows chat
not dl of them are rcpmmted at tbe site equally well. Gntexts showing cettain kinds of activities
are quite complete, composition of dms, on tbe contrary, is NJ of gaps.
A technological conext of insert marmfacture for coqwdtc tools - points for hunting a d
knives is most fully qmmtd in rhe d I a p of Zhohhov site artefats. Microblade manufacture (blanks for fKnt hut tools manufactwe) mdoubtdy took place immediately at the rite.
A sufficiently complete technological context h r a c m k s various kinds of manufacture connected with tools for hunting. Thanks to the availability of prdcaliy all kinds of original raw
material, wastage, Whed and a l m d item t h m are all the masons to assume that manufacture,
use and fixing of bone, antkr, ivory and wooden toob with flint or obsidian inserts took place at
the site. Most part of the tools points and knives - was connected with polar bear and reindeer
hunting and their butchering. This conclusion is confumd both by n m u s animal debris and
traces of work with m a t , hide and bone left on lithic inserts,
The same is true concerning floatwad tmattnent. The analysis of amfacts d a t d with this
type shows numerous Graces of splitting, shaping by hewing, planing and cutting. It is undoubted
that the cultural layer of the site reveals practically all the possible mute of such manufacture,
up to the smallest chips and shavings;i.e., it forms an integral w b l o g i c a l context; w i n g that
wood treatment was taking p l w on the immediate territory of the site.
On the contrary, some other kinds of activities, shown above. cannot k evidtntially proven as
taking place immediately and/or only on the territory of the site due to M
i technological context
Few obsidian items found in thc cultural tayer a mostly presented by b1adelets and, to a -1
degree, by small flakes. Such a composition of the splitting produce forms does not &ow us to
state that the whole complex of actions connected with its maaufacture was taking place in siru.
Obsidian was likely to be deliverad to the site as finished nuclei. The closest known obsidian outcrops are relatively far, in the mid-stream of the Indigirka river.
Large blade manufacture technology cannot be recomtructed with the nectssary compietcness
due to absence of certain forms of the technological context:
I) them are no cotes in the assemblage from which such spdls could have k n taken;
2) there are no p p t i o n spalh of such cores for blade removal, whost availability would
have boen unavoidable;
3) moreover, such large lumps of flint of adcquate quality are not available on the island of
A very similar situstion occurs when polished chopping tools are analyzed. Most part of adzelike items with traces of grinding bears rejuvenation m.Ground adzes fragments rejuvenation
into nuclei for mimoblades is not mThe a s s e shows
~ ~ =para& specimens of adze blanks, as well as n u m u s spalls from the
finished tools of this kind. However, splitting p r o d w corresponding to the manufactured chopping tools of the assemblage is not available, neither qdiralivel y, nor quantitatively.
Hence, we have no sufficient masons to assume that di the obsidian items, large blades and
ground chopping tools were m a ~ l u k t w dimmediately on the island of mokhov. They were
Iilrely to have been d d i v c d to the site as finished items w prefabs.
The wicker-work manufacture context cannot be considered complete, either. Presently, in
spite of the perfect -on
of small and comparatively large fragments of mats (?) and baskets (?), the site never revealed any traces of raw material d n s , prefabs and tmls for wickerwork
Wastage related to fossil ivory tFeatment is dso p-nt
insufficiently. Practically all the ivory
spalls of tht assemblage can be r e f d to the context of the &led
Ypick-likeu item. These are
products of breakdown and mgh treatment of ivory by a lithic dm,
At the same time, tfie produce of finer man*
like planing, cutting, scraping, whose traces
am well rrackd on d n ivmy items is practically entirely a b n L What is most surprising is the
absence of ivory shavings. Our expe-nts
with fossil ivory make it cleat h t removing 5 cubic
centimetres of this material by a flint plane can result in 3 cubic ckcinmtres of shaving a d more
layer are in a quite
Since wooden chops and shavings, bits of hide aad tendons of t l cultural
satisfactory state of preservation, to explain the &em of thin ivory shavings only by their M
prmmation does not seem convincing.
The cultural Iayer i t t c l h n u m m u fhgments of M e with hair on it, pieces of dressed
leather (with hair ~moved) and l e a k bits, t
h Plolchov site assemblage has so far never rev d e d a single scraper with or without
of use, or any other tool connected with intense
scraping of a hide. Initial treatment and M a g of hides d w not mto take place here, '
Every new Plokhov axcavation mson bring to light new types of arte-,
overall correlation of diffmnt technological contexts stays prdcally invariable. T h t is why we
have every teason to makc certain conclusions c o n d n g the chawter of activities of the ancient
inhabitants of the site, as well as the d n g of the tatter.
In all probability, h m we have a specidid hunters' camp meant to fulfil a definite but very
narrow range of tasks. R-ning
from a positive estimation of the available i n f o d o n we possess, we can r c c o m some kinds of activities taking place at the site when it was in use:
construction of living dwelling;
constrPction and repah of maans of transport;
manufacture of u k d s for domestic purposes;
manufacture and repair of huntingequipment;
repair and alteration of worlring tools;
butchering and preliminary pn>cessiog of hunt animals.
Most part of rhe working tools, a part of raw material to IM happed and made tools from, separate fwil ivory item, as well as wicker-work items: baskets (?), bags (?), mats (?) w e delived
to the site.
Even now, in spite of tfic incomplete state of excavation and analytical work, the m l r s of new
research on Zhokhov site are considered exclusively i n f o d v e . They give hope to further receive reliable data about d o u s kinds of ancient beams of Zokhov cultural tditiott production
activity occurring not only immodiatcly on the sitc but around it. Discovery of new types of items
and technologies, in particular, discovery of a new secondary -t
technology (grinding of
bladelets) arc likely to facilitate in the future the search for a Plokbov industry analogue on the
continent, As mw inEomutb bccomdf~available, the functional meaning of the sitc beoomes
more and a o ~ e
clear. Conithuing rcsm@~of the archaeological site involved seems quite justifable since it is under the threat of Wing -had
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