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The Upper Paleolithic of the Russian steppe zone

Abstract

The vast steppe area North of the Black Sea has been populated since the early Middle Paleolithic. The number of known sites dating to the Upper Paleolithic is increasing as research progresses, and today about 150 Upper Paleolithic sites have received some (although varied) degree of study. For a long time, the steppe zone was considered to have had a separate cultural-economic adaptation that differed drastically from that found in the periglacial province farther north. The difference was expressed in the specialization in bison hunting and in the very high mobility of the population. More recent archaeological research, described briefly in this article, presents a different picture: Subsistence was more varied, hunting was not limited to bison, and the settlement system indicates long periods of occupation of the sites. There were many local archaeological cultures, and study of the material remains indicates numerous contacts between the people of the steppe zone and those in Central Europe and the Caucasus and, by way of the Caucasus, with Western Asia.

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Leonova, N.B. The Upper Paleolithic of the Russian steppe zone. J World Prehist 8, 169–210 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02220563

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Key words

  • Upper Paleolithic
  • Russia
  • steppe zone
  • adaptation