The Upper Paleolithic of Mongolia: Recent finds and new perspectives

Sergei A. Gladyshev, John W. Olsen, Andrei V. Tabarev, Anthony J.T. Jull

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34 Scopus citations


This article reports on materials excavated and analyzed since 2008 at the multi-component open-air Tolbor-15 Site (Selenge River basin, northern Mongolia). Also discussed are problems of chronology and periodization of the Mongolian Upper Paleolithic based on radiocarbon dating, including new determinations available for the Tolbor-4 and 15 sites, along with associated archaeological materials. The early stage of the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) in Mongolia persisted for a relatively long period and can be divided into two sub-chrons, the earliest ranging from 40 to 35,000 BP. The later stage of the Mongolian EUP, falling between 33 and 26,000 BP, is represented by assemblages from the Khangai Mountains (e.g., Tolbor-4 and 15, Orkhon-7) and the Gobi Altai district (e.g., Tsagaan Agui Cave, Chikhen Agui Rockshelter, Chikhen-2). The middle Upper Paleolithic in Mongolia has been identified only on the basis of sites in the Orkhon River valley, all of which post-date ca. 25,000 BP. The material culture of this long period is characterized by the complete replacement of blade industries by flake industries, along with the parallel development of the pressure-flaked microblade technique. The later phase of the Mongolian Upper Paleolithic is well-dated down to the end of the Pleistocene. Typical industries include those excavated at Tolbor-15, which are characterized by the predominance of microcores reduced by both pressure and percussion, the appearance of retouched points on flakes, and an increase in the number of microblades as a fraction of overall blade blanks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - Dec 19 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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