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Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38

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Rethinking the initial Upper Paleolithic

Steven L. Kuhn a, *, Nicolas Zwyns b, c
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Bldg. 30, Tucson, AZ 85721-0030, USA
Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The term Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) was originally proposed to describe a specic assemblage from
Available online 23 June 2014 the site of Boker Tachtit (level 4). The use of the term was subsequently extended to cover the earliest
Upper Paleolithic assemblages in the Levant, characterized by forms of blade production that combines
Keywords: elements of Levallois method (faceted platforms, hard hammer percussion, at-faced cores) with fea-
Early Upper Paleolithic tures more typical of Upper Paleolithic blade technologies. More recently, the term IUP has been
Hominin dispersals
broadened again to include any early Upper Paleolithic assemblage with Levallois-like features in
methods of blade production, irrespective of location. Artifact assemblages conforming to this broadest
Blade technology
denition of the IUP have been reported from a vast area, stretching from the Levant through Central and
Eastern Europe to the Siberian Altai and Northwest China. Whereas it is indisputable that similar lithic
technologies can be found in all of these areas, it is not self-evident that they represent a unied cultural
phenomenon. An alternative possibility is convergence, common responses to adapting Mousterian/MSA
Levallois technology to the production of blade blanks, or some combination of multiple local origins
with subsequent dispersal. In this paper, we suggest that the current denition of IUP has become too
broad to address such issues, and that understanding the origins of this phenomenon requires a more
explicit differentiation between analogies and homologies in lithic assemblages.
2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) has become this sort of
extensive cultural phenomenon. When rst proposed, the term
What we call cultures or culture complexes in the Paleolithic Initial Upper Paleolithic had a very narrow meaning. The use of the
often exist on a scale unmatched by any familiar contemporary term has subsequently been broadened to encompass an ever-
social or cultural phenomenon. Constellations of associated mate- larger series of archaeological assemblages that spans an area
rial culture traits that dene the Acheulean or the Aurignacian are stretching from North Africa to north China. At this point the term
extraordinarily persistent in time and remarkably widespread in has become so generalized that its meaning and utility must be re-
space. Specic technological procedures, such as pressure micro- evaluated. Here, we examine what has been called IUP in various
blade production or Levallois method are even more broadly places and reconsider what this phenomenon might signify for
distributed and long-lived. These kinds of phenomena present a hominin global dispersals and trajectories of cultural evolution. We
challenge to archaeologists. We do not know exactly how to un- briey review the origins and uses of the term Initial Upper
derstand them. Are they cultures in a familiar sense at all, or are Paleolithic, the spatial and temporal ranges of assemblages iden-
they the outcome of less familiar processes leading to the xation of tied as IUP, and some of the technological variability subsumed
certain cultural traits across very large areas? To what extent can under the name. At this point, the global distribution of IUP as-
broad similarity in lithic technology be equated with continuity in semblages presents important challenges for distinguishing results
cultural transmission, as opposed to convergence guided by the of large-scale dispersal events from outcomes of technological
fracture mechanics of isotropic stone or responses to similar convergence.
ecological challenges?
2. History of the term
* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (S.L. Kuhn), As far as we are aware, Marks and Ferring (1988) coined the
(N. Zwyns). term Initial Upper Paleolithic to describe the lithic industry from
1040-6182/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
30 S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38

layer 4 (the most recent stratum) at Boker Tachtit, as well as the formerly termed Emiran with those conforming to Marks and Fer-
earliest Upper Paleolithic levels at Ksar Akil. The layer 4 industry ring's conceptualization of the Initial Upper Paleolithic. The term
resembles material from the other three layers at Boker Tachtit in IUP was proposed as a replacement for existing terminologies such
terms of many typological and technological indicators. However, as Emiran, which is too specic (Emireh points are not found at all
it contains a method of blade production that combines some sites) or transitional (which presumes a phylogenetic relationship
features of Levallois (hard hammer percussion, platform facet- with earlier and later assemblages). Although IUP technologies may
ing), with an Upper Paleolithic volumetric exploitation of the be transitional in some places, this must be demonstrated. E. Boe da
core's volume. What further sets layer 4 apart is the predominant and colleagues proposed the designation Pal eolithique intermediare
use of unipolar production: in the earliest levels bidirectional for similar reasons, but the use of term has so far been limited to
exploitation is much more common. Moreover, while artifacts comparatively recent assemblages from Umm et Tlel, Syria
resembling Levallois blades and points were produced, they do (Bourguignon, 1998; Ploux and Soriano, 2003). At sites such as
not occur at the end of the reduction sequence as in other as- agzl cave and Ksar Akil, where organic preservation is good,
semblages from the site, leading Volkman (1983) to conclude other elements of Upper Paleolithic non-lithic technologies,
that they were not the intended products of reduction. Marks including ornaments and bone tools, are present, even abundant in
saw the Boker Tachtit sequence as documenting the gradual layers yielding IUP assemblages.
transformation of MP-type Levallois blade production to an More recently, application of the term IUP has been broadened
essentially UP mode of core exploitation and (unipolar) produc- even more. Many researchers now refer to all industries dating to
tion. Thus, the technology from Layer 1 at the bottom of the between 35 ka and 50 ka, and that show features of Levallois
stratigraphic sequence was considered to be predominantly technology in blade production as Initial Upper Paleolithic (e.g.,
Levallois Mousterian in character, while the Layer 4 assemblage Hoffecker, 2011). This includes assemblages scattered from N. Africa
was predominantly Upper Paleolithic. to central Europe to northwest China. Sinitsyn (2003) and
The next revision of term IUP came when Kuhn et al. (1999) Arrizabalaga et al. (2003) independently proposed a rather
proposed it as a general descriptor for all early Upper Paleolithic different denition of the term. They call the earliest Upper
assemblages from the eastern Mediterranean and Near East that Paleolithic industries in a particular area, irrespective of their
contained mainly Upper Paleolithic tool forms made on blades characteristics, Initial Upper Paleolithic. This usage reframes IUP as
produced by a technology combining elements of Levallois (at a purely chronostratigraphic term with little specic technological
core faces, hard hammer, platform faceting, etc.) with more typical or typological content. While that may be a valid literal use of the
prismatic core exploitation. In essence, this combined assemblages phrase Initial Upper Paleolithic, we are concerned here with a

nska Ska
Fig. 1. Global distribution of IUP sites. 1. Brno-Bohunice; 2. Stra la III; 3. Bohunice-Kejbaly I, II; 4. Temnata; 5. Bacho-Kiro; 6. Kulychyvka; 7. Korolevo I, 2; 8. Shlyakh; 9. Haua
Fteah; 10. Hagfet ed Dabba; 11. ag zl; 12. Kanal Cave; 13. Um el'Tlel; 14. Jerf Ajlah; 15. Yabrud II; 16. Antelias; 17. Abou Halka; 18. Ksar Akil; 19. Emireh; 20. El Wad; 21. Raqefet; 22.
Mughur al Hamamah; 23. Tor Sadaf; 24. Boker Tachtit; 25. Kara-Bom; 26. Ust-Karakol 1; 27. Kara-Tenesh; 28. Makarovo 4; 29. Kamenka A-C; 30. Khotyk; 31. Podzvonkaya; 32. Tolbor
4; 33. Tolbor 16; 34. Tsagan-Agui; 35. Shuidonggou 1; 36. Shuidonggou 2, 9 (adapted from
S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38 31

somewhat more strictly dened phenomenon, namely the set of assemblages in different parts of the world. It might even be possible
early Upper Paleolithic assemblages, from anywhere in the world, to claim that they trace an eastward dispersal of Neanderthals. Fossil
with features of Levallois in blank production and essentially Upper associations are few and taxonomic determinations are tentative at
Paleolithic retouched tool inventories. best. The isolated teeth from ag zl cave in southern Turkey show a
While IUP may be preferable to terms such as transitional, predominance of Homo sapiens traits but a few possess Neanderthal
lumping together any and all late Pleistocene industries with features as well (Kuhn et al., 2009; Baykara, 2010). Likewise, the
Levallois-like features in the system of blade production and a fragmentary remains from layer XXIV or XXV at Ksar Akil (Douka et al.,
predominance of UP tool forms may produce a denition that is too 2013) are taxonomically ambiguous. Based on morphology alone, we
general to be very useful except as descriptive shorthand for gen- are often on uncertain ground in attributing fragmentary fossils from
eral features of lithic technology. The central question is whether this period to one taxon or another. Moreover, given recent genetic
the combination of UP tool forms and Levallois blade production evidence for interbreeding between Neanderthals and (and to a
could represent independent developments rather than a complex smaller extent Denisovans) and the ancestors of modern H. sapiens
of cultures related by descent. In other words, are the shared (Green et al., 2010; Reich et al., 2010; Sankararaman et al., 2012), we
characteristics the IUP sensu lato evidence for cultural continuity e must allow for the possibility that what are called IUP industries could
via diffusion or population movement e over a vast area (homol- have been produced by more than one hominin taxon.
ogies), or are they simply a series of convergences?
The IUP is of more than anecdotal interest since it is one key to 3. Geographic range, temporal duration, and technological
understanding the historical and evolutionary processes leading to variability
the establishment of modern humans in Eurasia (Hublin, 2012).
Where it occurs the IUP is always the earliest form of Upper With their discovery in the middle of the 20th century, a few
Paleolithic industry in a particular region. It is also often (but not salient attributes of Levantine IUP assemblages captured the atten-
always) associated with novel forms of behavior identied as tion of archaeologists. The combination of stereotypical Middle
modern (beads, shaped bone tools, etc.). Because IUP technolo- Paleolithic knapping techniques with Upper Paleolithic blank and
gies combine elements of Levallois technology with more classic tool forms, along with distinctive fossiles directeurs such as Emireh
volumetric UP blade production, some researchers consider them points and chanfreins made the Levantine assemblages quite unique
transitional between Middle and Upper Paleolithic. However, in globally (Garrod, 1951e1952). Subsequent ndings demonstrated
many areas (central Europe, Mongolia, China) they are clearly that the general phenomenon of Upper Paleolithic tools on Levallois-
intrusive. Other researchers have assumed a phylogenetic rela- like blanks is more widespread. In evaluating the signicance of the
tionship between technologies distributed over tens of thousands IUP sensu lato, we must recognize the geographic scale over which it
of kilometers and spanning nearly ten thousand years, claiming occurs. Assemblages tting the broad denition of IUP have been
that this particular constellation of features is a proxy for a single documented from North Africa to North China (Table 1, Fig. 1).
early dispersal of anatomically modern humans into Eurasia Particular dense concentrations of UP assemblages with Levallois-
(Hoffecker, 2011:35). like blade technology occur in the eastern Mediterranean Levant,
There is currently no strong evidence that the IUP as a whole in- Moravia (the Bohunician sites), and between the Siberian Altai and
dexes anatomically modern humans. We currently do not know northern Mongolia. However, scattered occurrences are noted
which hominin(s) were responsible for producing the IUP across southern and eastern Europe and northwest China.

Table 1
Sites yielding IUP/early UP with Levallois blades. Only excavated, stratigraphically-secure contexts included. (References are generally limited to the most recent publications,
especially to those containing dates).

Region Country Site Layer(s) Dated? (y/n) Notes References

N. Africa Libya Haua Fteah Dabban McBurney, 1967a, 1967b

Hagfet ed Dabba Dabban McBurney, 1967b
Middle East Israel Boker Tachtit 1e4 Yes: redating Marks and Volkman, 1983; Volkman 1983
Emireh No Garrod, 1955
El Wad F No Garrod, 1951e52
Raqefet VIIIeV No Sarel, 2004
Jordan Mughur al- Hamamah Yes Richter et al., 2009b
Tor Sadaf A, B? No Fox and Coinman, 2004
Syria Yabrud II 6 No Mixed? Pastoors et al., 2008
Jerf Ajlah B,C Yes Richter et al., 2001
Um et'Tlel II2b-IIbase Yes Pal
eolithique Ploux and Soriano, 2003
Lebanon Antelias VIIeV No Copeland, 1970; Leder, 2013
Abou Halka IVfeIVe No Azoury, 1986; Leder, 2013
Ksar Akil XXVeXXII Azoury, 1986; Ohnuma, 1988
Turkey agzl FeI Yes Kuhn et al., 2009
Kanal cave No Kuhn et al., 1999
S.E. Europe Bulgaria Temnata Yes Tsanova, 2008
Bacho Kiro Yes Tsanova, 2008
Central Europe Moravia Brno-Bohunice Various Yes Bohunician Richter et al., 2008, 2009a
anska Sk
ala III 5 Yes Bohunician Richter et al., 2008
Bohunice-Kejbaly I,II 4a Richter et al., 2008
Eastern Europe Ukraine Korolevo I, 2 (1a, II) Yes Gladilin, 1989; Gladilin and Demidenko, 1989
Kulychivka III Cohen and Stepanchuk, 1999
(continued on next page)
32 S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38

Table 1 (continued )

Region Country Site Layer(s) Dated? (y/n) Notes References

Russia Shlyakh 8 Yes Nekhoroshev, 1999; Hoffecker, 2011

Siberian Altai Russia Kara-Bom OH5e6 Yes Goebel et al., 1993
Ust Karakol 1 (sector 1) OH 5.4e5.5 No Derevianko et al., 1987; Slavinskiy, 2007
Kara Tanesh No Derevianko et al., 2001
Cis-and Russia Makarovo 4 3a Yes Goebel and Aksenov, 1995
Kamenka A-C 6 Orlova et al., 2005; Lbova, 2008
Khotyk 3 Kuzmin et al., 2006; Lbova, 2008
Podzvonkaya 2 Tashak, 2002
N.Mongolia Tolbor 4 OH5eOH6 Yes Derevianko et al., 2007; Zwyns, 2012
Tolbor 16 7 (lower) In progress Zwyns et al., 2014
S. Mongolia Tsagan-Agui 3 Yes Derevianko et al., 2004
N.W. China Shuidonnguo 1 Lower Yes Li et al., 2013
Shuidonnguo 2, 9 5, 7 Yes Li et al., 2013

It is equally important to recognize that although the IUP in the

Table 2 (continued )
broadest sense is very widespread, it is not a ubiquitous component
of Paleolithic cultural sequences. To date, assemblages with these Site Layer/industry 14
C age s Calib. BP s
characteristics have not been reported from western and northern 2
Ucagizli 1 I 35,100 1400 39,682 1554
Europe. Nor are they known in the area stretching from the Zagros Ucagizli 12 I 36,915 335 41,812 335
Ucagizli 12 I 39,200 1300 43,354 943
through Central and South Asia (see Dennell et al.,1991 for a possible
Ucagizli 12 I 39,700 1600 43,737 1193
exception), although there are few well-studied assemblages from Ucagizli 12 I 39,817 383 43,646 599
these regions and future discoveries could change the situation Ucagizli 12 I 40,200 1300 44,020 1079
radically. What this shows is that early Upper Paleolithic assem- Umm el Tlel3 PI 36,000 2500 39,958 2515
blages with Levallois features in blade production are not a universal Bacho Kiro4 11 34,800 1100 39,638 1288
Bacho Kiro4 11 37,650 1450 42,334 1127
stage in the transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic. They are an Bacho Kiro4 11 38,500 1700 42,883 1228
element in many, but by no means all regional sequences. Bacho Kiro4 11 >43,000
In addition to covering a vast area of geographic space, in some Temnata Doupka4 couche 4- inter. 38,200 1500 42,728 1122
places IUP assemblages also cover very long spans of time. The Temnata Doupka4 couche 4- inter. 38,800 1700 43,092 1205
Temnata Doupka4 couche 4- inter. 39,100 1800 43,312 185
calibrated radiocarbon dates for layers yielding claimed IUP as-
Temnata Doupka4 couche 4- inter. 45,000 7000
semblages range between 32 ka and 47 ka, mostly falling between Temnata Doupka4 couche 4- inter. 46,000 8000
39 ka and 45 ka cal BP (Table 2). Where multiple dates are available, Stranska Skala5 IIIc 34,440 720 39,620 1010
individual sites or site complexes may cover a signicant timespan, Stranska Skala5 IIId 34,530 790 39,643 1046
on the order of 6e8 ky. Certainly a part of this variability stems from Stranska Skala5 IIId 34,530 770 39,696 977
Stranska Skala5 IIIc 34,680 820 39,738 1043
very real difculties in radiocarbon dating samples in this time range
Stranska Skala5 IIId 35,080 830 40,003 1045
(e.g., Higham et al., 2009). Many dates, and especially those obtained Stranska Skala5 IIId 35,320 310 40,250 874
prior to the widespread use of AMS counting and development of Stranska Skala5 IIIc 36,350 990 40,889 1158
highly effective sample-pre-treatment techniques should be Stranska Skala5 IIIc 36,570 940 41,229 941
Stranska Skala5 IIId 37,270 990 42,024 670
considered essentially minimum age estimates. Even with the most
Stranska Skala5 IIId 37,900 1100 42,574 884
stringent sample pre-treatment and counting procedures as well as Stranska Skala5 III-1 38,200 1100 42,784 893
the most up-to-date calibration methods, dates older than 40 k 14C Stranska Skala5 IIIc 38,300 1100 42,847 888
years are likely to underestimate the true age. Application of inde- Stranska Skala5 III-2 38,500 1300 42,948 974
pendent dating methods such as OSL and TL, as well as stratigraphic Stranska Skala5 IIIa 41,300 1300 44,879 1301
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 32,740 530 37,237 856
markers such as the Y-5 tephra (Fedele et al., 2003; Pyle et al., 2006),
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 34,770 240 39,926 812
will be vital to obtaining a better understanding of the true age of Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 35,025 730 39,994 989
these and other late MP and early UP assemblages. Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 36,000 1100 40,576 1265
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 36,050 260 40,752 1035
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 36,540 310 41,633 310
Brno-Bohunice Bohunician 38,200 330 42,617 428
Table 2
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 38,690 320 43,082 592
Published radiocarbon dates for IUP sites/assemblages. (** refers to later early UP-
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 38,770 330 43,100 600
provides minimum age for underlying IUP). Where calibrated ages were not pub-
Brno-Bohunice5 Bohunician 40,050 360 43,772 625
lished dates were calibrated using CalPal online version 1.5.
Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 40,173 1200 43,979 1016
Site Layer/industry 14
C age s Calib. BP s Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 41,250 450 44,780 735
Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 41,350 450 44,878 726
Boker Tachtit 4 34,000 600 39,300 1150 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 41,400 1400 45,015 1399
Boker Tachtit1 1 45,000 1000 48,345 1800 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 42,100 450 45,501 844
Boker Tachtit1 1 47,000 1000 50,600 2200 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 42,750 550 46,246 1206
Ucagizli 12 Fbc 34,000 690 39,160 1300 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 42,900 1700 46,681 1936
Ucagizli 12 Fbc 35,020 740 39,989 993 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 43,250 550 46,868 1606
Ucagizli 12 Fbc 39,100 1000 43,300 800 Bohunice: Red Hill Sites5 Bohunician 43,600 550 47,144 1604
Ucagizli 12 G 39,100 1500 43,300 1060 Shlyakh6 layer 8 <44,000 <47,500
Ucagizli 12 H1-3 35,500 1200 40,200 1312 Kulychivka6 III??? 31,000 500 35,100 500
Ucagizli 12 H1-3 35,670 730 40,400 1070 Kara Bom7 OH5-6 43,200 1500 46,931 1995
Ucagizli 12 H1-3 38,900 1100 43,185 850 Kara Bom7 OH5-6 43,300 1600 47,025 2052
Ucagizli 12 H1-3 39,400 1200 43,467 896 Ust-Karakol 1 (1)**8 OH 5.2e5.3 31,410 1160 35,784 1356
Ucagizli 12 H1-3 41,400 1100 44,927 1157 Ust-Karakol 1 (1)**8 OH 5.2e5.3 29,900 2070 34,728 2209
Ucagizli 12 I 33,874 271 39,496 1015
S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38 33

Table 2 (continued ) intersection with a narrow face or lateral edge (e.g. Kara-Bom).
Site Layer/industry 14
C age s Calib. BP s These variants can sometimes coexist and may at times repre-
sent different stages of reduction.
Kamenka A 40,500 3800 44,848 3587
Kamenka A8 35,845 695 40,588 1046
 Some IUP technological systems appear to have been oriented
Kamenka A8 31,060 530 35,188 528 toward production of pointed pieces, others toward the pro-
Kamenka A8 30,460 430 34,739 441 duction of blades or even elongated akes. Multiple products
Kamenka A8 26,760 265 31,451 344 occur together in many assemblages, making it difcult to infer
Khotyk9 3 38,200 2800 42,039 2598
the intentionality of the toolmakers: reduction systems may be
Khotyk9 3 28,770 245 33,264 414
Podzvonkaya10 3 38,900 3300 42,755 3132 oriented toward producing multiple blank forms (Shimelmitz
Tolbor 411 31,210 410 34,233 400 and Kuhn, 2013).
Tolbor 411 >41,050 >44,570  Although standardized bladelet production systems are rare, at
Tolbor 411 35,230 680 40,129 991 least two different approaches to the manufacture of small
Tolbor 411 37,400 2600 41,354 2475
Chikhen Agui12 27,432 872 32,114 818
blanks are documented among IUP assemblages in different
Chikhen Agui 2**12 2.5 30,555 410 34,813 438 regions. At Umm el Tlel bladelets were produced as part of the
Tsagaan Agui12 3 33,840 640 38,992 1420 chaine op eratoire for making macro-blades and points, leaving
Tsagaan Agui12 3 33,780 585 38,972 1432 characteristic scars on the dorsal faces of Umm el Tlell points
Tsagaan Agui12 3 33,500 600 38,676 1585 da and Bonliauri, 2006): microwear
(Bourguignon, 1998; Boe
Tsagaan Agui12 3 32,960 670 37,498 1018
Tsagaan Agui12 3 30,940 480 35,080 478 evidence shows that some of these small elements were hafted.
SDG213 7 34,395 328 The asymmetric blade core/burin-core technology combination
SDG213 7 41,445 223 is typical of the IUP Siberia and in Mongolia (Zwyns, 2012;
Sources: 1, Marks, 1983; 2, Kuhn et al., 2009; 3, Ploux and Soriano 2003; 4, Tsanova, Zwyns et al., 2012). The method is oriented toward the pro-
2008: 12, 107; 5, Richter et al., 2009a, 2009b; 6, Hoffecker, 2011; 7, Derevianko and duction of small blades detached from the lateral edge of a
Rybin, 2003; 8, Kuzmin, 2004; 9, Kuzmin et al., 2006; 10. Lbova 2008; 11, larger blade, following its longitudinal axis (Fig. 2). Based on the
Derevianko et al., 2007; 12, Derevianko et al., 2004; 13, Li et al., 2013.
publications, at least a few burin-like cores were also collected
from Boker Tachtit (1, 2) (Volkman, 1983) and Temnata (sector II,
layer VI) (Tsanova, 2008) but they seem absent from Ksar-Akil
These caveats notwithstanding, dates from more recent studies and the Bohunician.
(Richter et al., 2008, 2009a; Kuhn et al., 2009) do suggest that at  Distinctive retouched forms vary regionally. In the Levant two
least the Levantine IUP and the Bohunician lasted for prolonged distinctive tool forms, Emireh points and chanfreins occur in IUP
periods. This dispersal of radiometric dates shows that the IUP is assemblages, though they are seldom found together. Neither
not a transitory phenomenon. Even taking the dates critically it artifact form is found in the Bulgarian sites or elsewhere in
probably lasted longer than recent estimates for the age range of southern Europe. In Siberia and Mongolia, blanks with inverse
the proto-Aurignacian, and perhaps the early Aurignacian as well proximal thinning do occur (Fig. 2) (Derevianko et al., 1987,
(Banks et al., 2013). Some authors have described temporal 1998a, 1998b; Rybin, 2004, 2014; Zwyns, 2012; Zwyns et al.,
sequencing within the Levantine IUP sites, although the number of 2014). Blanks differ in size and shape, being either elongated
well-dated localities is comparatively small (Marks, 1990; blades with inverse retouch on the distal end (in the Altai),
Demidenko and Usik, 1993; Leder, 2013). In Siberia and northern pointed akes in the Cis-Baikal (e.g. Makarovo-4) (Rybin, 2000)
Mongolia, chronological data available suggest a sudden appear- and blades with inverse truncation in Mongolia (e.g. Tolbor 4).
ance of this technology, but they are insufcient to address the  Other archaeological associations are also highly variable. In the
question of the local development (Gladyshev et al., 2010). Based on zl (Kuhn et al.,
Levant at least, the later IUP at Ksar Akil and ag
the current data, comparisons with the ages of sites in southern 2001, 2009) is associated with bone tools and abundant shell
Mongolia and northwest China indicate that it took more than 5 ky beads. Ornaments are also present in the early layers at Bacho
for these technological systems to diffuse or be carried into the arid Kiro (Kozlowski et al., 1982; Tsanova, 2008) and in Kara Bom
regions of East Asia (Li et al., 2013). (Derevianko and Rybin, 2003) and at Khotyk, in the Transbaikal.
Finally, the range of industries designated as IUP exhibit a In the latter region, bone artifacts such as a whistle (Kamenka A)
considerable degree of technological heterogeneity. The more we and a ute/whistle (Khotyk, layer 3), or stone ornament have
learn about early Upper Paleolithic assemblages from different also been reported (Lbova, 2010).
parts of Eurasia, and about IUP assemblages specically, the more
we realize that there is substantial variation among them. In the Because it ignores many aspects of this variability, the broad
broadest sense of the term, the industries dened as Initial Upper denition of IUP can lead to an interpretative dilemma. Long dis-
Paleolithic share only a few basic traits. They are united mainly by tance comparisons between Central European and North Asian
the use of hard hammer percussion, facetted platforms and rela- assemblages are a good example of the problems. Without clearly
tively at exploitation faces on some cores, all of which are tightly suggesting the idea of a united complex, some authors have
linked traits from a technological point of view. Locally, other fea- emphasized similarities between Bohunician and Kara-Bom IUP
tures are highly variable. (Svoboda and Skrdla, 1995; Bar-Yosef and Svoboda, 2003, 2004;
Skrdla, 2003b). Granted, these assemblages share some techno-
 In some assemblages, (ag zl FeI, Ksar Akil, Boker Tachtit 4)
logical and typological features (Levallois-like products, dominance
blank production is almost exclusively unidirectional. In others of hard-hammer percussion, UP tool-types on blade blanks, bidi-
(Boker Tachtit 1, 2, the Bohunician sites, Kara-Bom (OH5eOH6), rectional aking). However, signicant differences can also be
Tolbor 4 (OH5eOH6), Shuidonggou 1, 2, blank production in- identied.
volves bidirectional removals. As described at Str  Ska
anska la, the most representative Bohu-
 Even bidirectional technological systems are not homogeneous. nician reduction sequence is based on the production of convergent
Sometimes bidirectional cores have platforms on opposite ends blanks (Skrdla, 2003b). Although the aking is initialized by
of the same broad face of the core (e.g Bohunician), but often the removing crested blades, the convergent blanks are generally
reduction took place on a broad aking surface and at the struck in short series from the central part of the aking surface on
34 S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38

Fig. 2. Artifacts from IUP sites in North Asia. 1e3 : Tolbor 4, OH5e6; 4e6 : Ust-Karakol 1 (sector 1) (OH5.4e5.5). Blade with proximal retouch (1 and 4); burin-core (2 and 5),
bidirectional asymmetrical blade core (3 and 6) (drawings by N. Zwyns).
S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38 35

the broad face of the core. The convexity of the aking surface is approach different from the dominant Bohunician reduction
then reshaped by debordant removals on both sides of the core, a sequence at Stra nska Ska
la, although cores exploited on the broad
notable difference from the recurrent centripetal Levallois method and narrow face, or the narrow face alone, are also reported (see
(Fig. 3, lower). As noted by Skrdla (2003b), the cores start as Upper Skrdla, 2003a; 2003b, Figs. 7.1, 7.5, 9.7).
Paleolithic but nish as Middle Paleolithic, and integrate elements Interestingly, the variability within the laminar Middle Paleo-
of both volumetric conceptions. lithic of northwest Europe also encompasses these two types of
At Kara-Bom, reduction takes place alternately on a broad and a blade reduction. At Seclin (MIS5, France), reduction of blade cores
narrow face of the core (Derevianko and Volkov, 2004; Derevianko following a semi-prismatic pattern includes debordant/crested
et al., 2001; Zwyns, 2012) (Fig. 3, upper). The intersection of the two blades removed from both edges and a central aking surface
surfaces seems to be used to reshape convexities during the (Tuffreau et al., 1994). Although oriented toward different end
reduction process and at the stage of discard the core is rather at products, this system is roughly comparable to the Bohunician
and/or asymmetrical in section. Blanks produced encompass three management of lateral convexities. Asymmetrical cores are
categories: blades with parallel or sub-parallel edges, convergent described in Rocourt (Belgium, MIS5) (Otte et al., 1990). The coex-
blades and thick debordant/crested elements (used as blanks for istence with classical Levallois, the level of technological variability
burin-cores). This reduction path illustrates a sub-volumetric observed, and the broad timespan represented suggest that MIS5
assemblages represent an incipient development of the northwest
European Middle Paleolithic (Re villion, 1995) rather than a united
cultural complex. Asymmetrical cores close to the Kara-Bom IUP
are also considered typical for the Chatelperronian (e.g. Roc-de-
Combe layer 8) (Boe da, 1990; but see also; Pelegrin, 1995;
Roussel, 2011). Given that it can be found in the early UP as well
as MP assemblages dated to the last interglacial, this reduction
system can hardly be sufcient basis to dene a single cultural
complex that encompasses any and all assemblage showing bidi-
rectional debordant pieces and Levallois akes/blades. The same
reasoning could apply to the differences between western and
north Asian IUP assemblages. In light of the relative consistency
observed between the assemblages from the Altai and from
northern Mongolia, the structural differences observed between
the Bohunician and Kara-Bom blade technology cannot be left
unexplained. To make sense out of these differences it is essential to
re-evaluate the concept of the IUP, and to attempt to describe and
explain variation within it.

4. Discussion

The geographic and temporal dispersal of IUP technology poses

a fundamental question. What range of processes that can lead to
the repetition of a constellation of technological features over time
and space? Dispersal of a single group bearing a particular tech-
nological tradition is one such process, arguably the rst one that
many archaeologists think of. However, technologies can also
disperse across existing social networks without people actually
moving with them. A third, less frequently-considered possibility is
that the broad dispersal of some characteristics of the IUP repre-
sents frequent convergent evolution. The loose conguration of
attributes that dene the IUP may simply represent an easy
pathway from late MP Levallois to UP prismatic blade tech-
nologyda comparatively small-scale shift in modalities of blade
production. In other words, as a global phenomenon, the IUP could
represent a grade rather than a clade. While we tend to consider
them separately, all these sets of mechanisms are probably impli-
cated in the full range and distribution of industries termed IUP. The
variability observed could represent a series of radiations or
distinct dispersal events, at various geographical scales, occurring
Fig. 3. Analytical description of IUP variants in bidirectional blade reduction. Kara- within a narrow time window.
Bom (above) and Stra nska ska
la (below) (adapted from Boe da, 1990; Skrdla, 2003b). Although one should be very cautious in interpreting radio-
A. Initial crest B. Reduction e lateral motion: Above, the reduction is going back and
carbon dates greater than 37,000 14C years, the existing corpus of
forth between a narrow and a broad aking surface. Below, the reduction is semi-
circular and moves from one side to the other with a aking surface located in between dates (Table 2) is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the global
C. Reduction e geometry: Above, the reduction area ts into a rectangular or scalene IUP represents a single dispersal event. There is a broad time trend
triangle. Below, a rst phase of initialization (C1) is followed by the reduction (C2). The in dates within the IUP range, running from southwest (the Levant)
reduction area ts into a trapeze. D. Reduction e inward motion: Above, the core to the northeast (Mongolia and northwest China) but the trend is
reduction follows an oblique axis form the point of initialization. Below, the core fol-
lows a straight axis from the initial crest. E. Management of lateral convexities:
hardly clear or monotonic. For example, the dates from Kara Bom in
debordant or crested blade. F. Below, a rst series of Levallois blanks (F1) is followed by the Siberian Altai are among the oldest in the entire sample,
a management of the lateral (E) convexities before the second one starts (F2). approaching the current age estimates for the base of Boker Tachit
36 S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38

(Fig. 1). Focusing just on the western part of the IUP distribution we between the late MP and early Ahmarian in the Levant, its potential
must imagine a complex scenario in order to explain the apparent signicance for human evolution was fairly clear. Now that we are
relationships between the Bohunician and the Levantine IUP: speaking of a list of shared characteristics e centered on Levallois-
like blade technology e that link assemblages covering a large part
1. Early development of the Initial Upper Paleolithic in the of Eurasia, it is less evident what we are dealing with. The IUP sensu
southern Levant (Boker Tachtit 1e2), possibly stimulated by lato could represent evidence for one or more population dispersal
diffusion of techniques or people out of the Nile Valley. These events, it could reect diffusion of technological ideas across
earliest assemblages are characterized by bidirectional interconnected populations, or it could signal technological con-
production. vergences on a large scale. On the one hand, allowing for one case of
2. A fairly rapid dispersal of early populations using a bidirectional technological convergence leads us to wonder whether there may
core management strategy to south-central Europe, resulting in not be more examples of homoplasy. On the other hand, the
the Bohunician assemblages (Tostevin, 2000, 2003). technological and typological dissimilarities among IUP industries
3. A second, later dispersal of populations using unidirectional from different parts of Eurasia do not necessarily indicate that they
production strategies from the southern Levant into the north- are entirely unrelated, independent local developments. After all,
ern Levant (ag zl, Ksar Akil, possibly Umm etTlel). one would expect a dispersing culture complex to change over
time, so unless it spread extraordinarily quickly, the earliest and
Given the known dates and the typo-technological differences most recent manifestations should not be identical.
stressed above, it is even more difcult to derive the eastern Euro- Fortunately, these alternative scenarios, of changes accumu-
pean or Altai Initial Upper Paleolithic out of the Bohunician or early lating as a technology spread or of repeated, spontaneous de-
Bulgarian sites. In order to account for the early dates from sites in velopments, have also very different implications for spatial and
the Siberian Altai, one needs to posit that IUP-like technologies temporal structures of technological variability. Moreover, we also
occur early on in at least two areas, the Levant/North Africa and have the methods to resolve these different scenarios. The recog-
north Asia/the Altai. Although it has been proposed that IUP could nition of homologies and analogies using intensive attribute anal-
nd its origins in the Levantine (Rybin, 2004) or Central Asian ysis (e.g., Tostevin, 2000, 2003), combined with methods of analysis
Middle Paleolithic (Krivoshapkin et al., 2006, 2010), the antiquity of suitable for building hypotheses about relationships of descent
blade traditions in these regions makes it difcult to identify direct (e.g., see papers in O'Brien, 2008), have the potential to help us
ancestors for the North Asian technological systems. In Central Asia, better understand the IUP and related phenomena. In combination
the earliest documented assemblages with volumetric blade tech- with dating methods such as OSL and TL, application of these kinds
nology occur around 170 ka, at Khonako in Tadjikistan (Sch afer et al., of explicitly evolutionary approaches promise to provide a much
1998, 2003). Regrettably, few of the subsequent laminar MP as- better understanding of whether the many assemblages falling
semblages are securely dated. A second preliminary scenario must under the umbrella of the Initial Upper Paleolithic represent the
be proposed, qualied by the deciencies in temporal evidence: tracks of a single population or the consequences of external con-
straints on lithic reduction played out again and again in different
1. Early dispersal of a complex technologically intermediate be- parts of the world.
tween assemblages such as Obi-Rakhmat (upper layers) Discussing evidence for material culture among chimpanzees,
(Uzbekistan) (Krivoshapkin et al., 2006), Shi-Bat Dihya 1 Byrne (2007) stresses that a combination of near ubiquity and
(Yemen) (Delagnes et al., 2012), and Boker Tachtit layer 1 during intricate complexity is necessary to identify cultural transmission
the rst half of MIS3. This technology may have quickly devel- (see also Stout et al., 2010 for archeological applications). In the
oped derived features while spreading into neighboring regions. present case, it would mean identifying a combination of features
This techno-complex appears distinctly different than the IUP complex enough to represent homology rather than a direct
from Central Europe. response to technical or environmental constraints. Repetition of
2. From the Altai, Levallois-like blade technology (and/or pop- the features in the same or neighboring regions at around the same
ulations carrying it) spread into northern Mongolia, southern time makes it more likely that they are a marker for cultural
Mongolia, and nally northwest China. transmission, supporting dispersal hypotheses. Specic and con-
nected reduction sequences such as asymmetrical cores/burin-
Between Siberia and Northern Mongolia, interconnected cores are more likely to represent such homologies. To identify a
reduction sequences (asymmetric cores burin-cores) and other clear case of homoplasy implies that we explicitly dene features
technological and typological elements represent a package that are distributed beyond the regional scale. These analogies
consistent enough to be regarded as homologies rather than the could include some of the broad IUP characters such as a produc-
results of homoplasy. Using this combination of features, a similar tion of convergent blades/points, the switch to organic hammers
variety of IUP can be recognized across Siberia into Northern and unidirectional reduction, or the presence of common UP tool
Mongolia, the small number of sites notwithstanding. The last types (end scrapers, perforators or simple burin forms).
stages of its spread are more easily identied given the absence of In closing, we would like to emphasize that the questions we
likely antecedents to IUP technology in southern Mongolia and have posed about the IUP are not unique to that particular entity.
western China. IUP blade production may have been an easy Researchers have long been aware of the extraordinarily broad
pathway from Levallois to prismatic blade production, but only in distributions of certain more-or-less well-dened cultural phe-
places where there was Levallois to begin with. It is not such an nomena. Clovis technology, for example, is found, in one form or
obvious path for transforming typical northern Chinese core and another, over most of North and Central America during a relatively
ake technologies into blade production. restricted period at the end of the Pleistocene. Earlier culture
complexes such at the proto-Aurignacian, Aurignacien ancien and
5. Conclusion the Gravettian are also extraordinarily widespread within Eurasia.
Like the Initial Upper Paleolithic, these constellations of traits occur
As the denition of the term Initial Upper Paleolithic has been over geographic scales larger than familiar contemporary cultural
broadened, more questions have arisen as to what it represents. phenomena. Also like the Initial Upper Paleolithic, they are prob-
When the IUP was a discrete technological phase securely anchored ably the consequence of multiple processes, including migration,
S.L. Kuhn, N. Zwyns / Quaternary International 347 (2014) 29e38 37

cultural transmission, and technological convergence. Moreover, it Derevianko, A.P., Volkov, P.V., 2004. Evolution of lithic reduction technology in the
course of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Altai Mountains.
is virtually certain that the distributions of the Aurignacian and
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