Kostenki 1 and the early Upper Paleolithic of Eastern Europe
Although best known for its spectacular Gravettian features and art, the open-air site of Kostenki 1 (located near Voronezh on the Don River [Russian Federation]) also has played an important role in the study of the early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) of Eastern Europe. New excavations at Kostenki 1 were undertaken in 2004-2012 with a focus on the EUP layers (Layers III-V), which represent temporal zones of recurring occupation, buried in low-energy slope deposits (5% slope). Soils formed during periods of increased surface stability. A new set of radiocarbon estimates on wood charcoal indicates that Layer III dates between 33,000 and 38,000. cal BP. Layer V underlies the CI tephra (~ 40,000. cal BP), which is redeposited and identified only by microscopic analysis of sediment samples in most of the (downslope) areas of the site excavated during 2004-2012. Large and medium mammal remains recovered from the EUP layers include mammoth, horse, reindeer, arctic fox, and wolf, and taphonomic analyses indicate that carcasses were processed at the site. All EUP layers yielded artifacts typical of the East European Strelets industry (e.g., bifaces, side-scrapers), but earlier excavation (1948-1953) of Layer III also produced diagnostic Aurignacian artifacts (e.g., carinated scrapers, retouched bladelets). The new chronology for Layer III suggests an association between the Aurignacian of the central East European Plain and the warm intervals (GI 8-GI 7) following the HE4 cold period (~ 38,000-40,000. cal BP).