Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia
Ted Goebel, Ian Buvit
Chapter 1: Introducing the Archaeological Record of Beringia
"The reasons for choosing Siberia over other areas of northeast Asia are twofold. First, Beringia and Siberia shared very similar late Pleistocene environments, both being important components of the mammoth steppe during full glacial times and shrub tundra during late glacial times. Humans in Siberia and Beringia had similar experiences - facing some of the same environmental challenges during the last glacial cycle of the Pleistocene, 23,000-10,000 C14 BP (27,000-12,000 cal BP) and solving these problems with similar technological repertoires. Second, studies in molecular genetics have recently identified the greater Lake Baikal region of south Siberia as the "genetic homeland" of the first Beringians and Americans (Derenko et al. 2001; Starikovskaya et al. 2004; Zegura et al. 2004), so there is reason to predict that a strong historical connection existed between the early peoples of the Yenisei and Yukon basins. This connection has not been lost on archaeologists. Their experiences with Paleolithic collections from across greater northeast Asia have repeatedly pointed to the greater Baikal area of south Siberia as a likely source of Alaska's earliest cultural complexes (Dikov 1979; Dumond 1977; Graf 2008; Holmes 2001; Mochanov 1977; Powers 1990).
"Certainly other areas of northeast Asia are critical to our understanding of the dispersal of humans to Beringia and the Americas. Some early Beringians may very well have come from the maritime regions of temperate Asia-Japan or the Russian maritime provinces of Primorye, Khabarovsk, or Sakhalin. Craniometric studies of Pacific Rim populations imply such an event (Brace et al, 2001), the enigmatic early Ushki assemblage from Kamchatka could have had its roots in the Upper Paleolithic of the Japanese Archipelago (Dikov 1979; Goebel and Slobodin 1999), and similarities in microblade core technologies imply connections between Alaska and temperate east Asia (Chen 2007)."