As a result of a series of new archaeological discoveries in the Siberian region, it has been stated that the first inhabitants of the Arctic appeared around 40,000 years ago. The discovery came when a group of scientists from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (COPAH) carried out a radiocarbon analysis of reindeer antler fragments found at the Paleolithic site of Kushevat in the Lower Obi.
According to information received from Arkeofili; Materials discovered during excavations in the Paleolithic region of Kushevat were studied in 2020, under the guidance of scientists led by Ivan Zolnikov from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 31 fragments of animal bones were discovered at the site located in the Shuryshkarsky district of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
Among these bones were discovered the remains of caribou (Rangifer taradus), woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), steppe bison (Bison priscus), elk (Alces alces), wapiti (Cervus elephus sibiricus) and possibly ox musk (Ovibos moschatus). According to the results of the analysis, the bones are between 20,000 and 40,000 years old and were based on 20 different radiocarbon dates.
While these findings indicate that 40,000 years ago only animals, not humans, inhabited the Arctic region, this discovery now lays the groundwork for future analysis by dating human activity in the region from Obi 40,000 years ago. Among these bones, traces of human activity were found in two of the reindeer antlers that have just been analyzed.
Using accelerator mass spectrometry, СО РАН scientists recently concluded that these human traces are about 40,000 years old. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a dating method frequently used in archaeology, biomedical, geological and planetary sciences to measure long-lived radionuclides naturally present in our environment.
AMS analysis showed that ‘modern’ humans lived in the lower parts of the Obi region during the early Upper Paleolithic, which began around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago and ended around 40,000 years ago. about 10,000 years old. This period is marked by the gradual disappearance of Neanderthals and the emergence of “modern humans” (Homo sapiens) in more important occupations.
The dates given, thanks to AMS findings, are the earliest we know of when modern humans settled in the Arctic region. Additionally, the remains in reindeer antlers have led scientists to suggest that the origins of humans in the Arctic are linked to hunting activities.
Earlier findings had suggested that Homo sapiens first appeared in western Siberia at least 45,000 years ago, rather than in the Arctic. Scientists came to this conclusion thanks to a coxal bone discovered in 2008 in the Omsk region. Radiocarbon and paleogenetic analyzes of the bone had shown that it belonged to a man who died at the site around 46,880 to 43,210 years ago. However, AMS analysis of the horns shows that Homo sapiens also lived outside the Arctic Circle during the Upper Paleolithic.
Moreover, the results show that not only Neanderthals but also Homo sapiens lived in the Arctic Circle during the Upper Paleolithic. Twenty years ago it was known with certainty that only Neanderthals lived in this region at that time. These conclusions were drawn from radiocarbon dating of a series of bones in Yakutia in 2001. Radiocarbon analysis suggested that Neanderthals were in the area around 28,500 to 27,000 years ago.
Therefore, the new AMS analysis has made two major breakthroughs: first, it shows that Homo sapiens as well as Neanderthals lived in the Arctic Circle during the Paleolithic; The second discovery is that Homo sapiens lived in this region 40,000 years ago.
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