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Dates Are Not Just Data: Paleolithic Settlement Patterns in Siberia Derived from Radiocarbon Records

  • Yaroslav V. Kuzmin (a1) and Susan G. Keates (a2)

The large radiocarbon database now established for Paleolithic sites in Siberia and the Russian Far East can be used to build up a picture of relative population size in these regions. We consider the time period of ca. 46,000 to 12,000 B.P. for which we have assembled and critically studied 437 radiocarbon dates. All dates from individual sites that fall within 1,000 14C years are considered as a single event and called occupation episode. The results of our analysis show that the number of 14C dates until ca. 28,000 B.P. is small and increases at ca. 28,000–20,000 B.P, and dates decrease in frequency for the ca. 20,000–16,000 B.P. time range. It is after ca. 16,000 B.P. that we see a substantial rise in the number of 14C dates. In terms of the relative size of Siberian Paleolithic populations based on the frequency of occupation episodes, population density was small until ca. 36,000 B.P. Subsequently, population size increased gradually at ca. 36,000–16,000 B.P., and the growth rate became almost exponential at ca. 16,000–12,000 B.P. The number of occupations from ca. 20,000 to 18,000 B.P. did not decrease, running counter to arguments that Siberia was completely or considerably depopulated during the Last Glacial Maximum.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
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