This half of the lecture introduces Upper Paleolithic sites in Afro Eurasia highlighting the sites Kostenki, Sungir, Pronyatin, Bilzingsleben, Heidelberg, and the Omo Valley in Nubia (Ethiopia/Kenya). In Europe, Upper Paleolithic is synonymous with art.
According to Alexeev, in Siberia the Upper Paleolithic sites are centralized in the Southern regions, in the Lena Valley, in a great zone of not very high mountains and surrounding steppe. Here in the Lena Valley, tools are in the form of flaked blades as contrasted to the Caucasus where stone and bone variations are found (bone tools are likely used for hunting birds, not animals). These tools are Upper Paleolithic. In Europe, Upper Paleolithic is synonymous with art.
Kostenki 1 is located in the Don River Basin near the Sea of Azov. It is a small village surrounded by hills and dry valleys, ideal for hunting. At the site of Kostenki, both stone and bone tools have been found as well as stone and bone sculptures. Alexander Marshack 2 interprets decorations found on bone pieces as astrological calculations. Bone female figurines also have been found; these are similar to those found in Villendorf, Austria and are examples of Kostenki art. Here at Kostenki there is also evidence of houses.
Both Kostenki II and Kostenki XIV produced burials of Upper Paleolithic man. Skeletal remains from Kostenki II are of an adult male, tall, and approximately fifty years of age. Reconstruction of the head reveals a broad face and narrow brow. The head from Kostenki XIV is the best preserved; no bones were destroyed except for the end of the nasal bone which had been crushed by the investigator. Reconstruction reflects a very strong adult individual with a combination of morphological features. The nose is very broad, similar to African or Australian. This strong development around the nose is not typical for Europoid but is similar to East African populations; however, Negroid nasal bones are flat while Kostenki XIV is strong. This find is a combination of features whose origin is different from other groups.
Thus, at Kostenki, we have both stone and bone tools and sculptures as well as houses, female figurines similar the "Venus of Villendorf", and the remains of Upper Paleolithic man. From Kostenki II we have a broad head and narrow brow and from Kostenki XIV we have a tall adult exhibiting a combination of strong physical features which differ from typical Europoid.
Sungir 3 is located 200 kl east of Moscow and reveals several burials; therefore, it is considered to be the first cemetery in Russia. A total of five burials, all from the same layer produced 4 adults and 2 teenagers (together in one burial).
Burial #1 was of an adult male, 35-40 years of age. Reconstruction of skeletal remains reveal huge shoulders; nothing like this has been found in Upper Europe. Also in the burial were bones from a furbearing animal.
Burial #5 was of 2 teenagers placed head to head; the male was eleven years of age and the female thirteen. Alongside the burial was a long spear, 2.5 meters in length and made of one piece of straight ivory. Alexeev's Question: how was the ivory straightened 4?
Pronyatin is a site near Molodova in Southwestern Ukraine. This site has many layers with three layers of Upper Paleolithic (and other layers of Mousterian). Found in one of the Mousterian layers was a piece of bone in the shape of an animal. On the bone is what appears to be drawings. Possibly this is the first instance of drawing from a Mousterian site. Or possibly the bone came from the Upper Paleolithic layer and moved from one layer to another.
Bilzingsleben 5 is located in Germany 80 kl from Weimar, the birthplace of Goethe. This site was excavated by Dietrich Mania in 1975. Found at Bilzingsleban were Acheulian bone and stone implements with the skull of Homo erectus. Also present was a broken rhinoceros bone 6 with thirteen or possibly fourteen incised lines. This likely is not a piece of art but is the first evidence of mental activity. What we have here is Homo erectus, Acheullian tools, and evidence of mental activity 7.
The archaeological site at Heidelberg in Germany produced the remains Homo erectus. The discovery was made in 1907 8.
Omo Valley in Nubia (Ethiopia and Kenya) has produced the remains of either late Australopithicines or Homo erectus dating to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC 9.
An outline of Russian archaeology can be found in Prehistoric Russia by Tadeusz Solimersky, 1970 10.
Japanese scholars believe no finds can be dated before 600,000 years. From China it's 600,000 -400,000 years.
A conference held in 1959 surveyed one hundred years of Neandertal discoveries 11.
Reconstruction techniques were developed in the early 1930's by M.M. Gerasimov. Working with cadavers, he analyzed soft tissue and bone structure and found that the greater the bone structure, the thicker the soft tissue. His book was translated into German and Japanese 12.
Henri Vallois published a work dedicated to Neandertal skulls in 1989 or 1960. This work was published in German and English.
The fourth lecture in the series is delivered the day before American Independence Day. The Upper Paleolithic sites of Mal'ta and Bureti in Siberia are presented with both sites producing art objects and/or calendrics and female figurines. Professor Alexeev then introduces the concept of migration i.e. mass movement from the west to east across the Russian steppe, but refutes this concept claiming that instead of migration there was a diffusion of cultural, technological, and ideological exchange throughout the area. As concerns the peopling of America, Alexeev presents his reasons why there was no movement from Eurasia to America using dates from Duktai and Ushki to substantiate his argument. In discussing Upper Paleolithic art, Alexeev contrasts the cave art from Altamira in Spain with the art from Kapovaia Cave in Russia. Concluding this lecture, in a lighter frame of reference, Alexeev tells a delightful anecdote about Big and Little Diomedes and a dog. After class our conversations continue in The Yard with a recipe for piroshke from him and a "dasvedanya" from us. He then very solemnly wishes us a very happy Independence Day.
Alexeev continues: Mal'ta 13 is located in the Angara River Valley near Lake Baikal, Siberia. The Angara River Valley begins in the Baikal Sea and this steppe zone extends to the Yenissei River. This area has produced the remains of a rhinoceros covered with wool 14.
Mal'ta was excavated by M.M. Gerasimov in 1956-58. This site reveals rich cultural material including art objects as burial goods, engraved bone pieces, animal bone remains which depict both the species hunted and the usage of bone in technology. The species hunted are typical for Siberia i.e. rhinoceros and ox; there is no indication that the horse was hunted. Houses are also found at Malta.
According to the "Great Soviet Encyclopedia" Mal'ta is an upper paleolithic site on the Belaia River near the village of Mal'ta. This site, discovered in 1928 by Gerasimov, was investigated by him until 1959. Mal'ta produced remains of different types of dwellings (tepee-like, semi subterranean, and surface) which existed simultaneously. The Mal'ta burial was that of a child with rich grave goods, similar to the find at Bureti site.
Bureti is also located in the Angara River Valley and was excavated by the same person who discovered Teshik-Tash Cave [i.e. Okladnikov] 15. Excavations at Bureti reveal the same results as at Mal'ta; however, Mal'ta is the larger site. Currently the two sites are considered to be one unit left behind by one population. The distance from Bureti to Mal'ta is 12-14 kl; a two hour walk.
Bureti is located in a steppe zone with narrow hills. The climate is dry and animal life is rich. At the confluence of the Angara and Belaia Rivers were discovered the remains of animals that had been killed. Possibly Bureti was a campsite; this site could have been inhabited in winter when the rivers would have been frozen.
As per Alexeev, it is Okladnikov who proposes the following hypothesis: in the Paleolithic era, the Caspian Sea was larger than at present and occupied much of the western Ural area. Thus this great water barrier eliminated a direct path from west to east 16. The Okladnikov theory counters earlier hypotheses that the first migrations were from the west to the east across the steppes and Urals to Lake Baikal. Alexeev questions: Why is there a similarity between Czech sites and Lake Baikal sites? Possibly sites in between were destroyed by water.
Professor Alexeev disagrees with migration theories. Instead he believes that there was a diffusion of cultural, technological, and ideological exchange throughout the area.
Pieces of ivory, likely that from mammoth, have been found at Mal'ta. These paleolithic art objects are similar to those found in European and Czech sites and are examples of Upper Paleolithic art. Also from Malta comes an image of a mammoth; however, only a few bones of mammoth have been discovered at the site. Most of the bones found were from rhinoceros.
Also found and carved in ivory are figures of birds. A plate with many ornamental figures is likely a calendar recording (or predicting) seasonal events and climatic changes. This plate is similar to those found at some sites in France, most specifically the calendars from Fausi Cave, although the calendars are different.
An old photograph depicts houses with some use of stone which had been transported from an area 8-10 kilometers away. In addition to using stone in house construction, bones of rhinoceros are used to construct the frame of a house. These bones are then covered with the skins of many animals.
A burial, that of a child 2-4 years of age, was originally thought to be of a young person with strange morphological, possibly even pathological features. Actually the burial is of two children i.e. a secondary burial of a newborn placed with the older child. An ornamental plate was found on the remains of the elder child; the many ornamental figures on the plate can be interpreted as possibly a calendar for seasonal events and climatic changes. One interpretation of this unusual burial is that the father of these children had been an interpreter of calendrics.
Female figurines also have been discovered at Mal'ta 17. One is of a figure wrapped in a costume which also shrouds the head. Her face is broad with a flat nose and narrow eyes; possibly a similarity exists between this figurine and a native American. A second figurine is of bone, thin, and covered with auger marks.
In North America there are three types of tools: Sandia, Clovis, and Folsom points. Sandia points, in a triangular shape with the base curved convexly, are entirely napped except for a "new moon" sliver at the base (this is the only flat part). Sandia points come from sites dating to 12-10,000 BC and have been found from sites in Kentucky 18. Folsom points are also triangularly shaped except the only areas knapped are along the edges of the legs. The base is smooth. Folsom points are found in Mexico 19. Clovis points 20 belong to the same grouping as Sandia; both are 2-3,000 years later than Folsom points. These points: Sandia, Folsom, and Clovis are not found in Siberia 21.
In reply to the question as to whether America was settled from Siberia, Professor Alexeev thinks there is no typological relationship between Siberia and America. Of importance is the fact that sites in Central Asia and Eastern China are not included in the discussion of populating America.
The Duktai Culture is found in the small village of Duktai located on a coast of the Aldan River at the point where the Aldan flows into the Lena River. The site is a small cave and was excavated in the 1960's by Iurii Alekseevich Mochanov 22. This site has no complicated stratigraphy; only one cultural layer. As per Alexeev, there are other small caves in the Aldan and Lena Valleys which have been found with Upper Paleolithic tools.
Alexeev continues: the distribution of the Duktai Culture is only in the Aldan/Lena area, in the mid Lena Valley; however there is a possibility that some Duktai people did in fact reach the coast. C-14 dates for the Duktai Culture place it at existing from 30,000-10,000 BC 23. Some scholars think this culture could not have existed for so long a period of time, and there is doubt regarding the early dates from the caves. Only dates at 10,000 BC can be approved in conjunction with the cultural material; Mochanov argues for a date at 20,000 BC.
As per Alexeev, in the Duktai Culture there are no Folsom, Sandia, or Clovis points and the implements found are unexpressive. Mochanov's position is that the dates for the Duktai Culture are at 20,000 BC 24. However, in personal communication with American scholars such as Dennis Stanford and William Fitzhugh, this information is inaccurate. In the Smithsonian Institution collections, there are paleoindian materials dating only to 10-12,000 BC. At this time America had already been settled by early immigrants from Asia.
Ushki is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia and was discovered by Nikolai Dikov 25. The site reveals houses with fireplaces; however, the tools are unexpressive like the Duktai Culture tools. C-14 dates are at 12,000-10,000, a late date and the same as the last stage of the Duktai Culture. At this time early man had already entered America.
Conclusion: in southern Siberia there are C-14 dates at 40,000-32,000 with some Mousterian traditions but there is no resemblance with sites in America. Therefore, as per Alexeev, the peopling of America cannot be substantiated by the archaeological data.
The history of Upper Paleolithic art is complicated. Careful attention has been given to the first discoveries of Upper Paleolithic art in Eurasia. These discoveries have been declared to be falsifications by Europeans who could not believe in the existence of Upper Paleolithic art in Eurasia.
At Altamira Cave in Spain, cave art was accidently discovered in 1879 26. The art consists of color drawings of bison, horses, and two wild beasts. Professor Alexeev questions whether this art is a later (later than Upper Paleolithic) falsification and questions whether this area is the only location in the world where Upper Paleolithic art is located. This area, known as the Franco Contabrian region of Central and Southern France on the border of France and the Iberian Peninsula, appears to have the greatest concentration of Upper Paleolithic art. In addition to color drawings, small sculptures of stone and clay have been found; a figure of a bison has been discovered in Tuc d'Audubert Cave. Paolo Graziosi has published a book on Paleolithic art which was translated from the Italian 27.
Professor Alexeev also cites page 478 of "National Geographic"; October, 1988 as another reference for Upper Paleolithic art. This citation references Alexander Marshack's article entitled "An Ice Age Ancestor?" which describes an ivory carved portrait of an Upper Paleolithic hunter;
"an extraordinarily powerful male head with staring eyes, pinpoint holes in the irises, heavy brows, a strong upturned nose, a beard, and long deeply incised hair".
This bust supposedly was discovered in the 1890's in a field near Dolni Vestonice in Czechoslovakia.
In Eurasia, only one place has been found containing Upper Paleolithic Art and that place is Kapovaia Cave, discovered by Otto Nikolaevich Bader 28. The cave is located in the southern Ural Mountains on the right bank of the Belaia River (different from Belaia, tributary of Angara). This cave painting is of a small horse, a rhinoceros, a mammoth, and a large horse all in color. This is definitely a composition.
No sculptured pieces in clay have been found in European Russia; only one piece, a human figure, has been found at the site of Krasnoyarsk near Novosibirsk. Professor Alexeev questions why there is only one colored cave painting and only one clay object discovered in European and/or Asian Russia and why everything else is concentrated in western Europe. However, small sculptures of bone and stone are well distributed throughout the territory of Russia 29.
Well into the second week of lecture, as Professor Alexeev became more familiar and relaxed with the class, he told this anecdote:
"Two islands, Big Diomedes and Little Diomedes, were what separated the cold war enemies: the Soviet Union and the United States. Early in the cold war, Russian scientists would stand on Big Diomedes and with their binoculars would spy on the Americans on Little Diomedes. The Americans on Little Diomedes would be standing there with their binoculars focused on the Soviets. This process continued for some time, each formally spying on the other. After a great while, one of the Russian scientists raised his hand, not too high, perhaps only to his shoulders. In response, one of the American scientists raised his hand, also not too high. So it continued -- the stiff gesture slowly becoming a gentle nod. Then suddenly the ice broke. And from the American side came a dog leaping from one ice patch to another until he reached Big Diomedes. The Russians were very excited to greet an American dog and they invited the dog into their cabin to have some food. But the dog didn't respond. He wasn't very well trained. He was a very dumb dog"!
In response, one of my classmates exclaimed: "Must have been a Samoyed"!