Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 615–630 | Cite as

Reassessment of the Lower Paleolithic (Acheulean) presence in the western Tien Shan

  • K. A. KolobovaEmail author
  • D. Flas
  • A. I. Krivoshapkin
  • K. K. Pavlenok
  • D. Vandenberghe
  • M. De Dapper
Original Paper


Kulbulak (Uzbekistan) is among the most important Paleolithic sites in Central Asia. Based on excavations from the 1960s to the 1980s, a stratigraphic sequence yielding 46 archeological horizons of the Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic has been described. The lowermost 22 layers were at that time defined as Acheulean, both in cultural and chronological aspects. Based on these previous works, Kulbulak has thus often been cited as one of the rarest occurrences of Lower Paleolithic and Acheulean in the region. However, this attribution was debatable. New excavations at Kulbulak in 2007–2010 provided new material and the first reliable dates that permitted us to tackle this issue. Moreover, a reappraisal of the lithic collections and documents from previous excavations was also conducted. These new data clearly indicate the absence of Acheulean or even Lower Paleolithic at Kulbulak. On the contrary, the lithic assemblages from this site only correspond to Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods. The lowermost layers are particularly interesting due to the presence of an early industry with blade and bladelet technology.


Paleolithic Acheulean Blade and bladelet technology Central Asia 



We are grateful to the Russian Scientific Foundation (RNF), project #14-50-00036 “Multidisciplinary Research in Archaeology and Ethnography of Northern and Central Asia” for support of analytical part of this research. Support for field studies was provided by the grant of Ministry of Education and Science of RF (order No 220) for Altai State University contract No 14. Z50.31.0010, project “Earliest peopling of Siberia: formation and dynamic of cultures in Northern Asia”. We are grateful to the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.

Drawings of the lithic artifacts were made by N.V. Vavilina from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS. The authors are indebted to U.I. Islamov † from the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan for his consultations. The authors are indebted to their colleagues from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS and the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan for fruitful discussions during the field studies and the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. A. Kolobova
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Flas
    • 2
  • A. I. Krivoshapkin
    • 3
    • 4
  • K. K. Pavlenok
    • 4
  • D. Vandenberghe
    • 5
  • M. De Dapper
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RASNovosibirskRussia
  2. 2.TRACES – UMR 5608University Toulouse Jean JaurèsToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Novosibirsk State UniversityNovosibirskRussia
  4. 4.Altay State UniversityBarnaulRussia
  5. 5.Laboratory of Mineralogy and Petrology, Department of Geology and Soil SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  6. 6.Physical Geography, Geomorphology & Geo-archaeology of Mediterranean and Tropical Areas, Department of GeographyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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