The Initial Upper Paleolithic Tolbor-21 site: a new article in Quaternary International

Our new paper

Evgeny P. Rybin, Cleantha N. Paine, Arina M. Khatsenovich, Tsedendorj Bolorbat, Sahra Talamo, Daria V. Marchenko, William Rendu, Alexei M. Klementiev, Davakhuu Odsuren, Byambaa Gunchinsuren, Nicolas Zwyns., 2020. A new Upper Paleolithic occupation at the site of Tolbor-21 (Mongolia): Site formation, human behavior and implications for the regional sequence

has appeared online in Quaternary International. Access it here

In Central and East Asia, the Upper Paleolithic dates as early as 45 ka cal BP but, until recently, there was little reliable information concerning human occupation during the following period, between 45 and 40 ka cal BP. Here we present results of the excavation of the Tolbor-21 site, in the Selenga drainage system, northern Mongolia. We focus on Tolbor-21 Archeological Horizon 4 (AH4), a cultural assemblage that documents human occupations that fall stratigraphically and chronologically between the Initial and the Early Upper Paleolithic. We report on the spatial distribution of finds, zooarchaeological and lithic data to determine which reflect post-depositional processes, and which are informative of human behavior. Our initial results presented here show evidence of reworking and preservation bias in a succession of occupations, the exploitation of medium and large herbivores, and the potential structured use of space. At the regional level, our results suggest that improving the resolution of data collection may identify previously undocumented episodes of human occupation. On a broader scale, the Tolbor-21 AH4 assemblage brings new perspectives to the development of the Early Upper Paleolithic in Central and Northeast Asia.


The Russian Science Foundation supports ER, AMK, DM and AK for lithic (project #19-18-00198) and faunal (project# 19-78-10112) analyses.

The US National Science Foundation (#1560784) supports NZ’s field research in the Ikh-Tulberiin-Gol. NZ is grateful for the support of the Leakey Foundation, the Max Planck Society, the UC-Davis Department of Anthropology and Academic Senate, and the Hellman Foundation.
ST is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant agreement No. 803147 RESOLUTION,

Excavations at the Tolbor-21 site
Members of the 2015 excavation team

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