Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Puzzling Radiocarbon Dates for the Upper Paleolithic Site of Sungir (Central Russian Plain)

  • Yaroslav V Kuzmin (a1), Johannes van der Plicht (a2) and Leopold D Sulerzhitsky (a3)

Abstract

A summary is presented of more than a decade-long study of direct radiocarbon dating for one of the most important human burials in Eurasia, the Sungir site in eastern Europe. Eighteen 14C dates were produced before early 2014 on three skeletons (Sungir 1–3), and there is still no consistency in the results. In the absence of other independent methods to establish the antiquity of Sungir, a careful analysis is performed of the site's stratigraphy, paleoenvironment, and 14C dates run on animal bones from the same layer as the burials. Although the conclusions of this work cannot be guaranteed to be absolutely correct, we suggest that at the present stage of research the age range of ∼26,000–27,210 BP is the most probable time for the creation of the elaborate human burials at the Sungir site.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Corresponding author. E-mail: kuzmin@fulbrightmail.org.

References

Hide All
Alekseeva, LI. 1998. Okhotnichya fauna stoyanki Sungir [The prey fauna of the Sungir site]. In: Bader, NO, editor. Pozdnepaleoliticheskoe Poselenie Sungir (Pogrebeniya i Prirodnaya Sreda). Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. p 240–57. In Russian.
Alekseeva, TI, Bader, NO, editors. 2000. Homo sungirensis. Upper Palaeolithic Man: Ecological and Evolutionary Aspects of the Investigation. Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. 468 p. In Russian with English abstract.
Bader, NO, editor. 1998. Pozdnepaleoliticheskoe Poselenie Sungir (Pogrebeniya i Prirodnaya Sreda). Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. 270 p. In Russian.
Bader, NO, Mikhailova, LA. 1998. Kulturny sloi poseleniya Sungir po raskopkam 1987–1995 godov [The cultural layer of the Sungir settlement according to the 1987–1995 excavations]. In: Bader, NO, editor. Pozdnepaleoliticheskoe Poselenie Sungir (Pogrebeniya i Prirodnaya Sreda). Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. p 165–88. In Russian.
Bader, ON. 1978. Sungir. Verkhnepaleoliticheskaya Stoyanka [Sungir. An Upper Paleolithic Site]. Moscow: Nauka Publishers. 271 p. In Russian.
Bader, ON. 1998. Sungir. Paleoliticheskie porgebeniya [The Sungir site. Paleolithic burials]. In: Bader, NO, editor. Pozdnepaleoliticheskoe Poselenie Sungir (Pogrebeniya i Prirodnaya Sreda). Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. p 5158. In Russian.
Bahder, ON. 1967. Eine ungewöhnliche paläolitische Bestattung in Mittelrußland. Quartär 18:191–4.
Bahn, P, editor. 2001. The Penguin Archaeology Guide. London: Penguin Books. 494 p.
Brock, F, Higham, T, Ditchfield, P, Bronk Ramsey, C. 2010. Current pretreatment methods for AMS radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). Radiocarbon 52(1):103–12.
Brock, F, Wood, R, Higham, TFG, Ditchfield, P, Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C. 2012. Reliability of nitrogen content (%N) and carbon:nitrogen atomic ratios (C:N) as indicators of collagen preservation suitable for radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 54(3–4):879–86.
Cherdyntsev, VV, Zavelsky, FS, Kind, NV, Sulerzhitsky, LD, Forova, VS. 1969. Radiouglerodnye daty GIN AN SSSR. Soobshchenie IV [Radiocarbon dates of the Geological Institute, USSR Academy of Sciences. Report IV]. Bulleten Komissii po Izucheniyu Chetvertichnogo Perioda 36:172–93. In Russian.
Clark, PU, Dyke, AS, Shakun, JD, Carlson, AE, Clark, J, Wohlfarth, B, Mitrovica, JX, Hostetler, SW, McCabe, AM. 2009. The Last Glacial Maximum. Science 325(5941):710–4.
DeNiro, M. 1985. Postmortem preservation and alteration of in vivo bone collagen isotope ratios in relation to palaeodietary reconstruction. Nature 317(6040):806–9.
Dobrovolskaya, M, Richards, MP, Trinkaus, E. 2012. Direct radiocarbon dates for the mid Upper Paleolithic (eastern Gravettian) burials from Sunghir, Russia. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris 24:96102.
Kuzmin, YV, Burr, GS, Jull, AJT, Sulerzhitsky, LD. 2004. AMS 14C age of the Upper Palaeolithic skeletons from Sungir site, Central Russian Plain. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223–224:731–4.
Longin, R. 1971. New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230(5291):241–2.
Marom, A, McCullagh, JSO, Higham, TFG, Sinitsyn, AA, Hedges, REM. 2012. Single amino acid radiocarbon dating of Upper Paleolithic modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109(18):6878–81.
Mook, WG, Streurman, HJ. 1983. Physical and chemical aspects of radiocarbon dating. In: Mook, WG, Waterbolk, HT, editors. Proceedings of the First International Symposium 14C and Archaeology, Groningen, 1981. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. p 3155.
Pettitt, PB, Bader, NO. 2000. Direct AMS radiocarbon dates for the Sungir mid Upper Palaeolithic burials. Antiquity 74(284):269–70.
Praslov, ND, Soulerjytsky, LD. 1997. De nouvelles données chronologiques pour le Paléolithique de Kostienki-sur-Don. Préhistoire Européenne 11:133–43.
Praslov, ND, Sulerzhitsky, LD. 1999. New data on the chronology of Paleolithic sites in Kostenki-on-Don. Doklady Earth Sciences 365(2):196200.
Reimer, PJ, Baillie, MGL, Bard, E, Bayliss, A, Beck, JW, Blackwell, PG, Bronk Ramsey, C, Buck, CE, Burr, GS. Edwards, RL, Friedrich, M, Grootes, PM, Guilderson, TP, Hajdas, I, Heaton, TJ, Hogg, AG, Hughen, KA, Kaiser, KF, Kromer, B, McCormac, FG, Manning, SW, Reimer, RW, Richards, DA, Southon, JR, Talamo, S, Turney, CSM, van der Plicht, J, Weyhenmeyer, CE. 2009. IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 51(4):1111–50.
Richards, MP, Pettitt, PB, Stiner, MC, Trinkaus, E. 2001. Stable isotope evidence for increasing dietary breadth in the European mid-Upper Paleolithic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 98(11):6528–32.
Sinitsyn, AA, Hoffecker, JF. 2006. Radiocarbon dating and chronology of the Early Upper Paleolithic at Kostenki. Quaternary International 152–153:175–85.
Soffer, O. 1993. Upper Palaeolithic adaptations in Central and Eastern Europe and man–mammoth interactions. In: Soffer, O, Praslov, ND, editors. From Kostenki to Clovis: Upper Palaeolithic – Paleo-Indian Adaptations. New York: Plenum Press. p 3149.
Stuiver, M, Reimer, PJ. 1993. Extended 14C data base and revised CALIB 3.0 14C age calibration program. Radiocarbon 35(1):215–30.
Sulerzhitsky, LD. 1997. Cherty radiouglerodnoi khronologii mamontov Sibiri i severa Vostochnoi Evropy (kak substrata dlya rasseleniya cheloveka) [The features of radiocarbon chronology of mammoths in Siberia and northern Eastern Europe (as substratum for human dispersal)]. In: Velichko, AA, Soffer, O, editors. Chelovek Zaselyaet Planetu Zemlya. Moscow: Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. p 184202. In Russian.
Sulerzhitsky, LD. 2004. The chronological span of some Late Palaeolithic sites according to the radiocarbon dating of the bones of megafauna. Rossiiskaya Arkheologiya 3:103–12. In Russian with English abstract.
Sulerzhitsky, LD, Pettitt, P, Bader, NO. 2000. Radiocarbon dates of the remains from the settlement Sunghir. In: Alekseeva, TI, Bader, NO, editors. Homo sungirensis. Upper Palaeolithic Man: Ecological and Evolutionary Aspects of the Investigation. Moscow: Nauchny Mir Publishers. p 30–4. In Russian with English abstract.
Taylor, RE, Southon, J. 2012. On the resolution of 14C dating anomalies: case studies from New World archaeology. Radiocarbon 54(3–4):979–91.
Velichko, AA, Faustova, MA, Pisareva, VV, Gribchenko, YN, Sudakova, NG, Lavrentiev, NV. 2011. Glaciations of the East European Plain: distribution and chronology. In: Ehlers, J, Gibbard, PL, Hughes, PD, editors. Quaternary Glaciations – Extent and Chronology: A Closer Look. Amsterdam: Elsevier. p 337–59.
Vogel, J, Waterbolk, HT. 1972. Groningen radiocarbon dates X. Radiocarbon 14(1):6110.
Zenin, VN, van der Plicht, J, Orlova, LA, Kuzmin, YV. 2000. AMS 14C chronology of woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum.) remains from the Shestakovo Upper Paleolithic site, Western Siberia: timing of human-mammoth interaction. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172(1–4):745–50.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed