Natural and Climatic Complex and Formation of Byki Archaeological Culture

Keywords: Upper Paleolithic of the Russian Plain of the End of the LGM, Byki-7 site, Byki archaeological culture, natural and climatic complex


The Upper Paleolithic complex of Byki sites in the Seym river basin on the Russian Plain contains at least 8 cultural layers related to Byki archaeological culture. These are Peny, Byki-1, Byki-2, 3, and site Byki-7. Available radiocarbon dates for the sites range from 25,200 to 14,300 BP.

We have an archaeological tradition that originates from the Last Glacial Maximum and lasts until the end of the permafrost degradation period. The hypothesis arises that local changes in the natural environment could have led to the beginning/development/selection of optimal techniques and life support strategies.

Byki culture sites are associated with small groups of people leading a nomadic lifestyle and hunting for fur animals and ungulates. This distinguishes them from their predecessors and from future inhabitants of the Seym and Desna basins.

Byki lithic industry is characterized by a technique and typological combination of the primary crafting of thin and not long blades, and their secondary transformation into triangles, which were present in the flint assemblages of a rather long period.

Two culture-forming categories of tools are identified – flint triangles of Byki type and bone projectile points with a natural groove of Byki type. The primary knapping, special techniques of crafting, including the focus on the crafting of the main types of cores specifically for them, the functional features of these types of throwing weapons are important peculiar features that distinguish Byki culture from chronologically close industries of Europe.

It can be assumed that during the period of permafrost degradation the territory of the Seym basin was so unstable that large groups of people left it. At the same time, for small groups leading a nomadic lifestyle and hunting for small animals, which is a characteristic of the inhabitants of Byki sites, the area turned out to be available.

Triangular microliths with the function of arrowheads, which are the culture-forming category of tools, become the basis of the hunting weapons of the prehistoric inhabitants of Byki sites on the Seym. This correlates well with the species composition of mammals. The certain variability of their metrics, the low spending of raw materials, as well as the sufficient ease of mass crafting, could provide the necessary variability of missile weapons characteristics. We see a gradual change in the shape of triangles, however single bone projectile points do not get development, they are not replaced by anything.

We can assume that it was the existing natural environment that contributed to the formation of Byki culture in this microregion.


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How to Cite
Akhmetgaleeva, N., & Burova, N. (2020). Natural and Climatic Complex and Formation of Byki Archaeological Culture. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (1(29), 169-179.
Stone Age