The tempo of cultural change in the Kostenki Upper Paleolithic: further insights

Rob Dinnis*, Alexander Bessudnov, Natasha Reynolds, Gennady A. Khlopachev, Mikhail Sablin, Andrei Sinitsyn, Thomas Higham, Katerina Douka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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The Kostenki-Borshchevo site complex (Voronezh region, Russia) serves as the foundation of Eastern Europe’s Upper Paleolithic chronocultural framework. Here we present new radiocarbon dates for three Kostenki sites. Dates of ∼27.5–27 ka BP for Kostenki 15 suggest that its archaeological layer accumulated over a short period. These results help to confirm that the site is unrelated to Aurignacian assemblages. New dates for the Kostenki-Avdeevo Culture (KAC) Layer I of Kostenki 1 address the longstanding question of its chronology. Our results of ∼23.5–23 ka BP from different areas of the site are consistent with the layer’s accumulation over a short period. These results accord with recently obtained dates for Kostenki’s other KAC sites. Our younger results of ∼22.5–21 ka BP for different material from Layer III of Kostenki 21 are similarly consistent with a short chronological window for Kostenki’s KAC sites. Overall, this and other recent publications support the view that many Kostenki assemblages are chronologically distinct. This provides an important insight into the tempo of Upper Paleolithic cultural change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-803
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

open access via Cambridge University Press agreement

This work was funded by the Leverhulme Trust (AHOB3 and RPG-2012-800). We thank the staff of the ORAU past and present for their careful laboratory work. We also thank the reviewers and Editor-in-Chief for their comments. AB and AS acknowledge Russian Science Foundation grant numbers 20-78-10151 and 18-78-00136, and Russian Foundation of Basic Research grant numbers 18-39-20009, 18-00-00837 and 20-09-00233. We also acknowledge the participation of IHMC RAS (state assignment 0184-2019-0001) and ZIN RAS (state assignment АААА-А19-119032590102-7). We thank the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for supporting the Oxford node of the National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF).


  • Eastern Europe
  • Late Pleistocene
  • radiocarbon dating
  • Russia


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