Microblade techniques diffused quickly throughout Northeast Asia during the post-glacial period

According to Sano, microblade industries on Hokkaido appeared earlier than in other parts of Japan. On Honshu and Kyushu, the oldest dates are c. 17,000-15,000 bp, and their manufacture is associated with a particular strategy of raw material exploitation (see Sano, Katsuhiro, “Emergence and Mobility of Microblade Industries in the Japanese Islands“, p. 90)

Eastern Siberia has an extensive distribution of microlithic industries from the Lena River to the Pacific coast (see Seong, citing Chard 1974; Kuznetsov 1995; Larichev et al. 1990, 1992)). The rapid diffusion of microblade technology throughout northeast Asia during the post-glacial period has been widely noted, see: Late Pleistocene climate change and Paleolithic cultural evolution in northern China: Implications from the Last Glacial Maximum by Loukas Barton, P. Jeffrey Brantingham, Duxue Ji, Journal: Developments in Quaternary Science , vol. 9, pp. 105-128, 2007 DOI: 10.1016/S1571-0866(07)09009-4:

“Temporal and spatial patterns in archaeological data from Pleistocene north China suggest strong correlations between climate change and culture change: but only in extreme cases.

The pronounced cold/dry climate spells during the intervals of the Pleistocene has an immediate impact on human mobility, severely constraining it. As high mobility becomes incompatible with the environmental limitations of extreme intervals, such as the Last Glacial Maximum, previously disparate mobile human groups aggregate and compete for limited and spatially segregated resources. While climate change does present challenges to human survival and may promote alternative adaptive strategies, rapid cultural evolution is driven primarily by group formation, between-group competition, and the mechanics of cultural transmission.

During such times, regional cultural variation evolves in isolation and natural selection acts on group-level adaptations, facilitating the evolution of cohesive and cooperative social networks. The process of group selection further allows for the rapid diffusion of cultural and technological innovation and may explain the rapid diffusion of microblade technology throughout northeast Asia during the post-glacial period.”

 

Did Paleo-Siberians or Eastern Siberians, aka Northeast Asians enter Japan and contribute to the peopling of Japan?

Yungang He’s 2012 paper “Paleolithic Contingent in Modern Japanese: Estimation and Inference using Genome-wide Data” showed that the genetic contributions of Jomon, the Paleolithic contingent in Japanese, are 54.3∼62.3% in Ryukyuans and 23.1∼39.5% in mainland Japanese, respectively. Utilizing inferred allele frequencies of the Jomon population, the paper further concluded that the Paleolithic contingent in Japanese had a Northeast Asian origin.

The microblade tradition of Japan has been studied and deemed to be the same as the microblade tradition of Eurasia (particularly that of Eastern Eurasia) which has a long chronological history (see H. Kajiwara, “Microlithization of Eurasia” pp. 221-229 and Emergence and Mobility of Microblade Industries in the Japanese Islands).

Araya Type of burins of Northeast Asia (Serizawa 2003)

Araya Type of burins of Northeast Asia (Serizawa 2003)

Microblades in Japan are of two kinds, one that is accompanied by Araya burins without pottery, and another that is without burins but has pottery (see Keiji Imamura’s “Prehistoric Japan: New perspectives on insular East Asia”, chap 3).

Microblades technology is currently thought  to have filtered into Japan from two likely (possibly more) sources:

Northeast Asia/Eastern Siberia as evidenced by microblade diffusion route from Northeast Asia (River Amur region) — and as evidenced by the Araya-burins which are a development clearly associated with Siberia (see Araya type burins, Serizawa 2003; via The Old Stone Age of Japanese
Archipelago and Siberia, with special reference to lithic use-wear analysis ) and their widespread presence in prehistoric Japan is evidence of migrants from Siberia bringing the technology into Japan. The similarity of the common flat-based pottery technology is also thought to support the northeast Asian sphere of provenance for the movement into northern Japanese lithics-hand-in-hand-with ceramics, see below:

 Cultures in early Far East flat-based pottery period

Cultures in early Far East flat-based pottery period. Northeast Asian traditions are adjacent to and are considered to have influenced Hokkaido. Yasatami Nishida “East Asia and Jomon

Cultures with blade-arrowheads were distributed widely in northeast Asia. A culture with the same type of arrowheads appeared in the early phase Jomon restricted to east Hokkaido. These microliths appeared in the early neolithic period in a cluster of adjacent regions comprising northern China, northern Korea, the Amur river basin and the Primorye region during what is know as the early half of the Far East flat-based pottery period. Excavations at Hutouliang, Xiachuan, and other major sites, including Upper Palaeolithic sites (Gai 1985), a number of microlithic localities have been excavated, uncovering tens of thousands of microblades and rnicroblade cores. The distribution is limited to north China largely above 35° north latitude, with the highest density in the Songhua and Nen River Plain in northeastern China (Gai 1985; Kato 1992).

A southern stream without araya burins filtered into Korea was likely dominant in the south, and although there is still doubt as to whether it is of southern Chinese/southeast Asian provenance, the scenario of a Northeast Asian provenance would also be entirely consistent with the Korean position if we infer from the combined fields of both the archaeology of lithics and genetics, that the bearers of the lithics technology were of northeast Asian stock:

“In general, the Korean mtDNA profiles revealed similarities to other northeastern Asian populations through analysis of individual haplogroup distributions, genetic distances between populations or an analysis of molecular variance, although a minor southern contribution was also suggested. Reanalysis of Y-chromosomal data confirmed both the overall similarity to other northeastern populations, and also a larger paternal contribution from southeastern populations.

The highest (23.8%) frequency in the Korean mtDNA pool was observed for haplogroup D4, which is widespread in northern East Asia and especially in the Korean-Chinese (21.6%), and Manchurians (20.0%). In total, haplogroup D lineages including the subhaplogroups (D4, D4a, D4b, D5, and D5a) accounted for 32.4% of the Korean mtDNA pool. In addition, the Koreans present moderate frequencies of (sub)haplogroup A (8.1%) and (sub)haplogroup G (10.3%) lineages, mostly prevalent in northeast Asia and southeast Siberia…. Other Siberian and Mongolian-prevalent haplogroups from the C, Y and Z lineages make up less than 4% of the Korean mtDNA pool. Haplogroups A5a and Y2 are found almost exclusively in Korea but were present at extremely low frequencies. In total, these northern haplogroups account for ~60% of the mtDNA gene pool of the Koreans”

Source: Jin H-J, Tyler-Smith C, Kim W (2009)”The Peopling of Korea Revealed by Analyses of Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosomal Markers.” PLoS ONE 4(1): e4210. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004210

From the perspective of Korean lithics research,  see Yongjoon Chang’s “Human activity and lithic technology between Korea and Japan from MIS 3 to MIS 2 in the Late Paleolithic period“, Quaternary InternationalVolumes 308–309, 2 October 2013, Pages 13–26, there is a “complicated and diverse sets of cultural features” shared between Korea and Japan from late MIS 3 to MIS 2, Japanese sourced obsidian is found in several South Korean sites (obsidian usage is older in Japan than in Korea) and the author suggests that the Yubetsu technique of microblade manufacture was introduced from South Korea, at least for the western end of Japanese sites. (The author also “suggests” rather tenuously that polished stone technology entered Japan from South Korea, however, the earliest polished stone tools are found in Japan, at dates far earlier than anywhere else in the world, and much earlier than South Korea.)

Yongjoon Chang’s assertion that Korean lithics techniques may have diffused from Inner Mongolia or North China … this view merits further study. In an earlier paper, Microblase technology in Korea and adjacent Northeast Asia, Asian Perspectives 37(2) Fall 1998, CHUNTAEK SEONG observed that The Yubetsu technique of Japan is almost identical to the Hetao technique of north China. Yubetsu cores; that the Togeshita (Yangyuan) technique… is equivalent to the Yangyuan in China; that the Oshoroko (Sanggan) technique and that in the successive rejuvenation of the platform is frequently observed this technique, is identical to the Sanggan technique in China; that the Saikai (Hutouliang) technique …is compatible with Hutouliang cores in China. It is also called the Fukui type (Kato and Tsurumaru 1980) or technique (Tachibana 1983), which is comparable to the Xiachuan technique (Chen and Wang 1989).”

Chuntaek Seong citing Chard noted: “In an influential work on northeast Asian prehistory, Chard (1974: 49-50) argued that the “wedge-shaped core” represented “cultural influence from the north (Siberia-Hokkaido)” in northern Japan, whereas conical or cylindrical cores reflect local evolution out of the earlier blade tradition.”  In the final word, Seong merely concludes that the relationship between variation in microblade technology and raw materials
in Korea indicates three regional-scale patterns:

(1) a northern pattern as represented by the sites of MandaI, Sangmuryong, and Hahwagye with an abundance of obsidian objects and cores with longitudinal blade production (blank types III and IV);

(2) a central pattern (Suyanggae and possibly Sokchang) with a
dominance of bifacial flaking on the elongated blank (type I), which is made out of siliceous shale with minor portions of obsidian and porphyry objects; and

(3) a southern pattern (Okkwa, Juksan, Kokcheon, Imbul), which is typically associated with cores of type II blanks made of tuff.

In C.J. Bae, K. Bae, “The nature of the Early to Late Paleolithic transition in Korea: Current perspectives”  / Quaternary International 281 (2012) 26e35, Baea and Kidong Baeb conclude that the early development of Korean and Japanese prehistoric lithics situation was best explained by this scenario:

“the slow transition from core and flake tools to a heavier reliance on blades, tanged points, and eventually microblades by the end of MIS 3 is that human foraging groups physically moved down from the north (e.g., Siberia, Mongolia) in small scale migrations or these more northerly groups may have traded with indigenous peoples living in Korea during MIS 3e2 (see also KD Bae, 2010).”

The paper also underscored that there was as yet no convincing evidence for migrations from south China into Korean peninsula, instead finding that ” … blades/microblades do not appear in Southeast Asia, including southern China …  The earliest evidence for the transition to the Late Paleolithic (e.g., introduction of blade and microblade technologies) appears in northern China, Korea, and Japan.”

The paper made the following observations:

“…in Korea it is fairly well documented that between 40,000-30,000 BP blades and tanged points begin to appear in small frequencies in strata that are still dominated by traditional Early Paleolithic core and flake stone toolkits (e.g., Yonghodong, Hwadaeri, Hopyeongdong), including sometimes bifacially worked implements (Seong, 2009; KD Bae, 2010). The archaeological record currently suggests that it is not until after the advent of MIS 2 that blade and microblade stone tool industries become more dominant in the Korean peninsula.

The slow introduction of blade and tanged points, rather than a quick replacement of those tool types over the Early Paleolithic stone tool industries, might actually be suggestive of some type of slow introduction of human foragers’ influence into the region either through direct occasional migrations or some type of trade interactions (Norton and Jin, 2009).

Although it is difficult to document trade interactions during MIS 3, obsidian from sites dating to 30,000 BP situated on the Kanto Plain in Honshu, Japan has been sourced to Kozushima (Ikawa-Smith, 2008). Kozushima is an offshore island that would have been minimally separated from Honshu by at least 40 km of open water during glacial periods.
During MIS 2, there is evidence that obsidian was moved upwards
of 300 km from Hokkaido to Sakhalin as early as 23,000 BP (Kuzmin
et al., 2002). “

The paper also notes that 1) genetics studies; and 2) paleobathymetric variation, do not support model theory of human migrations occurring from the north and south as an explanation for why core and flake assemblages alongside blade and microblade collections during the Korean Late Paleolithic.

On the rapid diffusion of cultural and technological innovation (microblade technology) throughout northeast Asia during the post-glacial period, see: Late Pleistocene climate change and Paleolithic cultural evolution in northern China: Implications from the Last Glacial Maximum by Loukas Barton, P. Jeffrey Brantingham, Duxue Ji, Journal: Developments in Quaternary Science, vol. 9, pp. 105-128, 2007 DOI: 10.1016/S1571-0866(07)09009-4:

“Temporal and spatial patterns in archaeological data from Pleistocene north China suggest strong correlations between climate change and culture change: but only in extreme cases.

The pronounced cold/dry climate spells during the intervals of the Pleistocene has an immediate impact on human mobility, severely constraining it. As high mobility becomes incompatible with the environmental limitations of extreme intervals, such as the Last Glacial Maximum, previously disparate mobile human groups aggregate and compete for limited and spatially segregated resources. While climate change does present challenges to human survival and may promote alternative adaptive strategies, rapid cultural evolution is driven primarily by group formation, between-group competition, and the mechanics of cultural transmission.

During such times, regional cultural variation evolves in isolation and natural selection acts on group-level adaptations, facilitating the evolution of cohesive and cooperative social networks. The process of group selection further allows for the rapid diffusion of cultural and technological innovation and may explain the rapid diffusion of microblade technology throughout northeast Asia during the post-glacial period.”

Was Siberia the Palaeolithic backwater people used to think it was?

According to the study “C14 CHRONOLOGY OF STONE AGE CULTURES IN THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST” by YAROSLAV V. KUZMIN, et al.:

“The earliest evidence for manufacture of microblades on the Russian Far East is known from the Ust-Ulma 1 site (Derevianko 196; Derevianko and Zenin 195). This may be used to establish the boundary between the early and late stages of the Upper Paleolithic in northern Asia (Abramova 1989: 241). Layer 2b on this site was dated to 19,320 ± 65BP (SOAN-2619). Since this time, we have the continuous sequence of C 14 dates from the late Upper Paleolithic sites in both Primorye and the Amur River basin (Table 1). The most recent Paleolithic sites with microblades are dated in the Amur River basin to Ca. 10,50 BP, and in Primorye to ca. 780 BP (Ca. 670 cal BC).

Neolithic Cultures The Paleolithic/Neolithic Boundary and Evidence for the Earliest Pottery

The earliest evidence for pottery-making in the lower Amur River basin (i.e, from Khabarovsk City to the Amur River mouth), which marks the begining of the Neolithic in Russian archaeology (Krushanov 1989), is dated to Ca. 13,00-13,30 BP on both Khummi and Gasya sites. The Goncharka site is slightly younger at ca. 90 BP. Al three sites belong to the Osipovka Initial Neolithic culture (Kuzmin et al. 197; Shevkomud 196; Lapshina 195), and the date of the upper level of  Osipovka layer on the Khummi site is 760 ± 120 BP (7010-6345 cal BC) (GIN-6945). This is probably the upper limit of the Osipovka culture; thus, it existed during ca. 780-13,30 BP. “

The answer to the above question is also to be found in the following excerpted portions of Jiří Chlachula’s “Climate History and Early Peopling of Siberia“:

The human occupation of Siberia used to be traditionally associated with the Late Palaeolithic cultures. Systematic geoarchaeology investigations during the last 20 years across the entire Siberia (with the key research loci in the Tran-Ural region of West Siberia, the Altai region, the Upper Yenisei, Angara and Lena Basins, as well as at the easternmost margins of the Russian Far East in Primoriye and on the Sakhalin Island) revealed several hundred of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites (Serikov, 2007; Chlachula et al., 2003, 2004b; Derevianko & Markin,1999; Derevianko & Shunkov, 2009; Medvedev et al., 1990; Mochanov, 1992; Vasilevsky, 2008; Zenin, 2002). Particularly the discoveries of numerous Palaeolithic sites, some of potentially great antiquity (> 0.5 Ma), located in large-scale surface exposures (river erosions and open-pit mines) followed by systematic archaeological investigations within the major river basins of south and central Siberia between the Irtysh River in the west and the Lena River / Lake Baikal in the east (Fig. 1A), have provided overwhelming evidence of a much greater antiquity of human presence in broader Siberia and capability of early people to adjust to changing Pleistocene environments.

The variety of cultural finds provides witness to several principal stages of inhabitation of the Pleistocene Siberia, possibly encompassing the time interval close to 1 Ma with the earliest (Early and Middle Pleistocene stages) represented by typical “pebble tool” industries, followed by the Middle Palaeolithic complexes, including the (Neanderthal) traditions with the Levallois prepared-core stone-flaking technology, and the regionally diverse Late/Final Palaeolithic blade complexes eventually replaced by the microlithic Mesolithic cultural facies that developed in response to major natural transformations during the final Pleistocene.

A further northern geographic expansion of humans into the Arctic regions reflects a progressive cultural adaptation to extreme climatic conditions of (sub)polar Pleistocene environments (e.g., Mochanov & Fedoseeva, 1996, 2001). The occupation sites in the Polar Urals and North Siberia (Svendsen & Pavlov, 2003; Pitulko et al., 2004) provide eloquent evidence that people reached the Arctic coast already before the Last Glacial (>24 000 years ago). All these discoveries logically lead to revision of the traditional perceptions on a late peopling of northern Asia as well as the “late chronology” models of the initial human migrations across the exposed land-bridge of Beringia to the North American continent (Chlachula, 2003b). Geoarchaeology studies, particularly in the poorly explored and marginal geographic regions of northern and eastern Siberia (Pitulko et al., 2004; Vasilevsky, 2008), are of utmost importance for reconstruction of past climate change as well as the early human history in north Eurasia.

The oldest recorded (Early Palaeolithic) sites are mostly exposed along active river banks of the Kama reservoir by erosion of loess and loessic sediments overlying relics of the Middle Pleistocene (35-60 m) river terraces. The cultural material is represented by archaic and simply flaked core-andflake stone industries (cores, retouched flakes, scrapers and other tools, partly bifacially worked) produced on cobbles from old river alluvia. Numerous fragmented animal bones with the anthropogenic working and use attributes (flaking, splitting, retouching) (Fig. 2B) indicate productive natural occupation habitats and complex behavioral activities. The formal technological uniformity of these Palaeolithic finds and their geological contexts related to the Middle Pleistocene alluvia suggests an intensive expansion of the Old Stone Age people across the middle latitudes of Eurasia prior to the last interglacial. (>130 ka BP) (Matyushin, 1994; Velichko et al., 1997; Chlachula, 2010a).

The stone artifacts mostly represented by simple flakes (Fig. 5F) were used for processing the slaughtered animals. Human activity is also manifested by flaked and cut bones of mammoth, rhinoceros, bison and elk, and mammoth tusk fragments. The palaeogeographic site configuration with the concentrations of the skeletal remains suggest that the game was hunted by people in the nearby area across the 100-110 m terrace over a cliff onto the present 65-70 m terrace (which formed the floodplain) and transported in dissected pieces to the habitation place. The composition of the inventories reinforces the interpretation that it was a short-term occupation / processing campsite. In respect to the high age and the contextual completeness, the Ust’-Izhul’ locality is at present without parallel in Siberia. Together with other Pleistocene megafaunal assemblages from the Minusinsk Basin, the associated fauna record bears witness to the rich biological potential of the area for early human occupation.

There is no consensus if the Middle Palaeolithic tradition in southern Siberia can be associated with the European and Near Eastern cultural milieu, although some “classical” Mousterian influences in the Altai cave sites are evident (Derevianko & Markin 1992) (Fig. 4F). The Middle Palaeolithic stone flaking technology, especially the Levallois technique, is still reminiscent in the Late Palaeolithic traditions, suggesting a certain continuity of the cultural and possibly biological human evolution in Siberia during the Late Pleistocene.

The Late Palaeolithic occupation in the southern Central Siberia is documented at both open-air and cave sites. Warming during the mid-last glacial interstadial stage (MIS 3) accelerated formation of the Late Palaeolithic cultures characterized by the developed blade flaking techniques. The upper Yenisei basin is one of the major loci of the Late Palaeolithic sites in Siberia (the Krasnoyarsk – Kanskaya forest-steppe, the Northern and Southern Minusinsk Basin, and the Western Sayan foothills) (Astaknov, 1986; Drozdov et al., 1990; Larichev et al., 1990; Vasiliev, 1992; Yamskikh, 1990). The earliest occupation sites have been found buried in the Karginsk (MIS 3) Pedocomplex (31-20 ka BP), in the early Sartan loess and the intercalated, weakly developed, humic loamy interstadial forest-tundra soils (dated to 25-22 ka BP)

The Early and Middle Pleistocene climates brought a major modification of natural habitats, facilitating the northward dispersal of Palaeolithic people from the southern areas of Central Asia and Mongolia, and their environmental adaptation to the Siberian habitats and regional settings. The earliest unequivocally documented Middle Pleistocene (Early Palaeolithic) occupation centered in the southern continental basins and river valleys north of the Altai-Sayan Mountains. The human dispersal into East Siberia is assumed to have principally occurred during warm interglacials in the processes of the northern expansion of mixed parkland forests and associated fauna communities, whereas only local movements of early human groups are envisaged during cold stages. The Tobol (MIS 9) Interglacial (390-270 ka BP), when the MAT was by ca. 3-4°C higher than at present, is likely to have been (one of) the most favorable time period for the main initial migration to northern Asia through the major Siberian river valleys, reaching as far north as 60°N latitude. The Early and Middle Palaeolithic finds bear witness of repeated inhabitation of the Irtysh, Ob, upper Yenisei, Angara, Viluy, Aldan and the upper Lena River basins prior to the Last Interglacial.

 

Further readings:

M.A. Kiriyak,  Early art of the Northern Far East has drawings of early lithics

A comparison is made of earliest Amur River basin ceramics and the emergent pottery tradition together with lithics assemblages in the Sea of Japan basin in proper context, ZHUSHCHIKHOVSKAYA, I. 1997, On Early Pottery-Making in the Russian Far East . Asian Perspectives 36 (2): 159-74.

Early ceramics from the Gasya and Khummy sites of the Lower Amur River region now rival the early ceramics discovered in the Japanese archipelago. The oldest Russian Far East ceramics are accompanied by stone artifacts made in the blade technique. See excerpt from the ZHUSHCHIKHOVSKAYA article:

“Sites containing simple ceramics were discovered in the Amur River basin, the Primorie  (Maritime) region, and on Sakhalin Island. These sites are widely dated from between 13,000 to 6000 B.P.” “In the Russian Far East, the problem of pottery-making origins has been explored only recently (Derevyanko and Medvedev 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995; Garkovik and Zhushchikhovskaya 1995; Golubev and Zhushchikhovskaya 1987; Zhushchikhovskaya 1995a, 1995b)”

Early ceramics assemblages from various regions in the northern part of the Sea of Japan basin and the Russian Far East are characterized by certain technological and morphological features. Two types of ceramic pastes can be distinguished, the first employing natural clay without artificial temper (Ustinovka-3, Almazinka) and the second using clay with plant fiber artificial temper (Gasya, Khummy, Yuzhno-Sakhalinskaya culture, Chernigovka-1). Not all of the pottery assemblages provide evidence of forming techniques. At least three can be identified:
a moulding technique, perhaps in conjunction with the use of a paddle and
anvil (Khummy, Gasya, Ustinovka-3), slab c.

These features are similar to those described for early ceramics from other
regions of eastern Asia and elsewhere in the world. For example, a ceramic paste of untempered natural clay is typical for the earliest pottery of Japan (Vandiver 1991). My inspection of Incipient Jomon ceramics from Kiriyama-Wada and Jin located in Honshu and dated to approximately 12,000-10,000 B.P. suggests some trends involving the technology of paste among these early ceramics. The ceramics from the earliest sites (or components of sites) have a paste prepared of rough, unworked natural clay. The ceramics from later components is characterized by clay in which more of the large particles have been removed, producing a more plastic clay paste that is still untempered. Plant fiber-tempering technology
occurred in the pottery of the Initial and Earliest Jomon periods (Nishida 1987). This technology appeared in the early ceramics of North and Central America (Griffin 1965; Hoopes 1994; Reichel-Dolmatoff 1971; Reid 1984), Near East and Central Asia (Amiran 1965; Saiko 1982), and now for the materials from the Russian Far East.
There is some evidence for the use of mould forming methods in ceramic
assemblages from south and southeast China dated to 10,000-9000 B.P. (Wang Xiao Qing 1995). The use of moulds in the forming process was popular in several areas of Eurasia (Bobrinsky 1978). According to P. B. Vandiver, the earliest Japanese pottery was formed by a method similar to slab construction. Coiling was not employed in the initial stage of pottery production (Vandiver 1991). The combination of partial moulding and slab construction took place in some cases (Vandiver 1987). Similar examples of this technique were discovered in sites from south China dated between 9000 and 8000 B.P. A roundish stone or a basket may have been used as a mould to which pieces of clay were then applied (Wang Xiao Qing 1995). The coiling method for making pottery is widely represented among
archaeological assemblages throughout the world. Obvious evidence for this
method can be identified among later ceramics from J omon sites in Japan.
A relatively simple morphological pattern was a common characteristic of
early ceramics. Nonetheless, vessels with a rectangular shape also occurred in early pottery-making. The box-shaped vessels associated with Sakhalin Island’s Yuzhno-Sakhalinskaya culture are similar to those from sites in northern Japan dated to 13,000-10,000 B.P. (Suda 1995).

The early ceramic assemblages of the Russian Far East share many technological and morphological properties with early ceramics discovered in other regions of the world. This resemblance may be explained, in part, by the comparable level of pottery-making development that restricted the technological and morphological choice. Variability within these early ceramic traditions developed gradually, as skills and expertise improved. At the same time, it may be noted that regional differences appeared in the very earliest stages of pottery-making. Ceramic assemblages from the Russian Far East show evidence of partial moulds and possibly
paddle and anvil techniques. In early Jomon assemblages, slab construction was employed, followed by coiling in later assemblages.
The Russian Far Eastern early ceramic assemblages that represent a common pottery-making level are placed into a fairly wide temporal interval between 13,000 and 6000 B.P. This large interval may reflect the few radiocarbon dates yet available for these assemblages and the lack of other absolute dating methods.
This article has shown that sites associated with early ceramics within each of the regions included here are consistently dated to a somewhat narrower interval of time. The lower Amur River basin is characterized by the oldest dates of the sites, ranging from 13,000 to 10,000 B.P. The sites from Primorie region occupy an intermediate position, between 8500 and 7500 B.P., and Sakhalin Island is characterized by the most recent sites, dated to 6500-6000 B.P. This chronological sequence possibly reflects the geographically uneven dynamics for the introduction of pottery-making in the territories of the Russian Far East.
The lower Amur River basin may be interpreted as a region of the earliest ceramics. Radiocarbon dates for the lowest components of the Gasya and Khummy sites are close to the dates of the Jomon sites in Japan containing the most unadvanced pottery. The ages of the sites in the Primorie region associated with early ceramics tend to match dates for sites associated with early pottery from areas to the south and southeast in China (Jiao 1995; Wang Xiao Qing 1995).
A common trait of both the Russian Far Eastern and Japanese sites is the occurrence of early ceramics together with a lithic industry combining elements from the Late Paleolithic and Neolithic. This may reflect certain technical and social contexts linked to the first appearance of pottery in this part of the world.
Because the first discoveries of early ceramics in East Asia occurred in the
Japanese archipelago, initial conceptions about the origins of pottery-making emphasized this territory (Ikawa-Smith 1976; Serizawa 1976). The discovery of the new sites containing early ceramics in the Russian Far East indicates that the area of ceramic origins needs to be broadened to include the Sea of Japan basin as a whole (Zhushchikhovskaya 1995b). Clearly, this perspective will lead to more comparative and new field research on the origins of pottery-making in East Asia. “

On Sakhalin Island, however: The most archaic pottery-making tradition in this region is connected with the sites of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinskaya archaeological culture (Golubev and Zhushchikhovskaya 1987). It is radiocarbon dated to approximately 6500-6000 B.P. The location of this archaeological culture is the southern portion of Sakhalin Island (Shubin et al. 1984).

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