Project 1206

Project 1206: Human technological and behavioral adaptation to the Last Glacial Maximum in Northeast Asia (Contact: Masami Izuho)

Project aim: this 4 year project focuses on the Human technological and behavioral adaptation to the Last Glacial Maximum in Northeast Asia.

The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), roughly 20,000-17,000 14C BP, was a crucial time in NE Asian Prehistory as foragers were forced to reorganize themselves to cope with extreme ecological deterioration. It is becoming clear that in Siberia foragers adopted microblade technology as insets for organic tools to allow them the flexibility of pursuing solitary game from short-term campsites during and immediately after the LGM. Some researchers assert that these new developments are the result of human population expansion from either Mongolia or Hokkaido into subarctic and arctic regions of Siberia, while other scholars maintain that microblade technology was present in Siberia prior to the LGM. Presently, we have little knowledge about how LGM archaeological sites in Hokkaido relate to these patterns found in other parts of NE Asia.

The purpose of the proposed research is to understand the relationship between environmental changes and human technological organization around the LGM based on Archaeology (geoarchaeological and stone tool data from Paleolithic sites in Hokkaido), and Paleoecology. The central question for us to investigate is: How did human technology respond to LGM environmental conditions in Northeast Asia? Field and laboratory work will be aimed at collecting environmental data at archaeological sites and assessing changes in lithic technological organization.

The project leader, Masami Izuho (co-editor with Akira Ono) has recently assembled the special issue on “Environmental changes and human Occupation in North and East Asia during OIS3 and OIS2” in British Archaeological Reports, International Series 2352, 2012. This volume provides chronological and regional diversity of the human-environmental interaction across the local regions in Upper Pleistocene. Based on this work, we will be focusing on just before/during/just after LGM in the regions more detail.

This project has several specific objectives:

  • To characterize the geological and geomorphic context of the site including landforms, depositional history, and sediments of the sites before/during/after LGM across Northeastern Asia;
  • To evaluate the stratigraphic integrity of the site through assessment of the post-depositional processes that influenced the distribution, abundance, and visibility of ecofacts, artifacts, and features of the sites;
  • To determine the age of artifact-bearing strata of the site and landforms through radiocarbon analysis of the sites;
  • To assess Upper Paleolithic adaptations through stone tool analysis of representative sites;
  • To synthesize these human ecological elements for reconstructing the human ecosystem in regional context.

We are pleased to invite all researchers who are interested in this project, to participate in this year's Workshop on Geochronology of Upper Paleolithic sites before/ during/ after the LGM in Northeast Asia. The purpose of this workshop is to review geochronological evidence of Upper Paleolithic sites before/ during/ after LGM across Northeast Asia. Participants will come from Russia, United States, Mongolia and Japan.

Date: 30 November 2012

Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo (Japan)

Information and timetable (pdf 23kb)