Microlithic Technology in Northern Asia: A Risk-Minimizing Strategy of the Late Paleolithic and Early Holocene



Microblade technology was important in hunter-gatherer adaptations throughout northern Asia from the late Pleistocene through the Pleistocene/Holocene transition and beyond. To date, most studies from the region are concerned with origins, technological lineages, and culture history. In contrast, we direct attention to issues involving the role of microlithic technology in adaptive strategies and problem solution among north Asian hunter-gatherers by looking at artifact design and risk analysis. First we discuss the function of Asian microblades and outline the general costs and benefits of organic points with microblade insets over simple organic points and flaked stone points, as well as the relative advantages of wedge-shaped and split-pebble microcores in terms of the Z-score model. We conclude with a review of the role of microlithic technology as a risk-minimizing strategy of Arctic and sub-Arctic large-game hunters in northern Asia and suggest further lines of inquiry.