The “Microblade Adaptation” and Recolonization of Siberia during the Late Upper Pleistocene



In Siberia, a scarcity of sites 22,000 to 18,000 years in age suggests that human populations unable to cope with extreme conditions of the last glacial maximum abandoned the region. After 18,000 years ago, as glaciers retreated and the tree line gradually advanced northward, humans wielding microblade technology recolonized the Asian north, ultimately spreading to the high arctic by 11,000 years ago. This chapter recounts the evidence for the timing of this colonization event and summarizes technological, subsistence, and settlement data from over 20 sites to reconstruct hunter-gatherer adaptations during the Siberian late Upper Paleolithic. Results suggest that late glacial microblade-producing populations were highly mobile hunters who commonly exploited single prey species from short-term camps.