VOLCANIC GLASSES OF THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST:
GEOLOGICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASPECTS
The aim of this book is to describe the sources of archaeological
obsidian found in prehistoric and protohistoric cultural complexes of the
southern part of the Russian Far East, Primorye (Maritime) and Sakhalin
Provinces of the Russian Federation, as well as to present the primary
geochemical data on volcanic glass not previously studied by instrumental
chemical analysis methods.
The geological, geochemical, and archaeological studies of the volcanic glass from outcrops (possible sources) and archaeological collections were carried out from 1992 to 2000 by a group of scholars from Russia (Dr. Yaroslav V. Kuzmin, Pacific Institute of Geography, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok; Dr. Vladimir K. Popov, Far Eastern Geological Institute, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok; and Dr. Andrei V. Tabarev, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk) and U.S.A. (Dr. Michael D. Glascock, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO; and Dr. M. Steven Shackley, University of Clafornia at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA).
The Stone Age Period in the Russian Far East can be subdivided
into two main epochs, the Paleolithic and Neolithic, and the boundary between
them is based on the appearance of pottery. The sites without pottery
are categorized as Paleolithic, and the sites with pottery are associated
with the Neolithic.
Within the Upper Paleolithic in Primorye, the Ustinovka cultural complex has been established. The Neolithic period of the southern Russian Far East can be subdivided into three stages: Initial, Early, and Late. The Gromatukha complex in the Middle Amur River basin corresponds to the Initial stage. Several cultures are associated with the Early Neolithic Period: the Rudnaya and the Boisman in Primorye; and the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the southern Sakhalin. Several other cultures are identified with the Late Neolithic Period: the Zaisanovka in Primorye; the Imchin on northern Sakhalin Island; and the Aniva on southern Sakhalin Island. The cultural epoch following the Neolithic in the Russian Far East is the Early Iron Age and/or Bronze Age. Some investigators combine these under the single term "Paleometal”.
As for the Primorye and Sakhalin sites under investigaton, the following belong to Upper Paleolithic: Osinovka, Ustinovka 1 and 4, Suvorovo 3, Gorelaya Sopka, Gadiychia Sopka, Firsanova Sopka, Ivanovka, Ilistaya 1, Borisovka, Razdolnaya, Timofeevka 1, Kentsukhe (Primorye); and Sennaya, Ogonki 5, 6, and 7; Odoptu, Slavnaya 2, Novoaleksandrovsk 2, 3, and 6; Pugachevo 4 and 5; Dolinsk 1, Olimpiya 1, and Ostantsevaya Cave (Sakhalin).
The Neolithic sites where volcanic glass tools and flakes are found are Ustinovka 3, Pereval, Khansi, Valentin-peresheek, Maihe, Troitsa, Rybak, Chernaya Sopka, and Gladkaya (Primorye); and Starodubskoye, Porechye 4, Lugovka, Yuzhnaya 2, Sedykh 1, Bogataya 1, Moneron 5, Vostochny 2, Yasnoye 3, Shebunino 1 and 2; Kirpuchny 9, Naiba 6, Ado-Tymovo, Puzi 4, and Blagodatny 3 (Sakhalin).
The Paleometal Period is comprised of several sites, including Sinie Skaly, Eustaphy, Phusun, Kievka (Primorye); and Beregovoye, Zarechye, Vostochny 1, Lovetskoye 5, Razmolovka, Sadovniki 1, Yasnomorskoye 3, Stary Nabil 5, Bakhura, and Kalinino 1 (Sakhalin).
The different types of volcanic glass, volcanic rocks, and the
history of volcanism in Primorye are described. Volcanic glasses
of the Primorye are located within volcanic-tectonic depressions and calderas,
and also within smaller structures, such as extrusive domes, dykes, lava
flows, and pyroclastic covers. The main areas for volcanic glass
in Primorye are Nezhdanka, Yakut-Gora, Sadovy, Brusilovka, Partizanskaya,
Krabbe, Ilisataya, Gladkaya, and Ryazanovka. No reliable volcanic
glass sources have been discovered on the Sakhalin Island. Beyond
the Prmorye, the Paektusan Volcano and Hokkaido (Oketo and Shirataki) are
the major sources of high-quality volcanic glass in the neighbouring regions
of northeastern Asia, and they are also characterized.
A geochemical study of volcanic glasses from Primorye, Sakhalin,
Hokkaido, and Paektusan Volcano was conducted using both Energy Dispersive
X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) and Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis
(INAA). Statistical grouping, based on bivariative and 3-D plots, cluster,
and discriminant classification analyses, were applied to indicate within
a 95% degree of probability the major geochemical groups reflecting the
sources of archaeological obsidian.
Geochemical analysis and consequent statistical grouping indicates
within 95% degree of probability the three major geochemical groups reflecting
sources of archaeological obsidian in Primorye. Source 1 originates
from the Late Tertiary basalt lava flows of two plateaus in southern Primorye,
Shkotovo and Shufan (Borisovka). As a result of water-lava erosion, high
quality obsidian pebbles were concentrated on the flood plains of rivers
draining both plateaus. There are at least 19 prehistoric sites, ranging
from the Late Paleolithic to Early Iron Age, correspond to Source 1.
They may be sub-divided into two groups, local (10 sites) and remote (9 sites). Local groups are situated directly near the basalt outcrops. The majority of remote sites comprise a cluster of the Ustinovka Upper Paleolithic culture sites in the Zerkalnaya River basin located about 170-300 km distance from obsidian source. This shows clearly that there were no local obsidian sources exploited in the Upper Paleolithic, and supports an earlier conclusion made by Vasilievsky and Gladyshev (1989).
Source 2 represents by middle quality rhyolitic glass from the Tertiary dykes and small extrusive domes in the Ryazanovka and Vinogradnaya River basins, extreme southwestern Primorye. There are 3 prehistoric sites that correlate with this source, and distance between the source and archaeological sites varies from 30 to 380 km.
Source 3 is located along the modern Paektusan volcano on the Chinese-North Korean border. High quality obsidian from the Paektusan was found at 9 sites, and the distance between source and site is between 230 and 680 km.
This is an important finding that prehistoric people in Primorye used the Paektusan obsidian since Final Paleolithic, ca. 10,000 BP, and most actively in the Zaisanovka culture of Late Neolithic, dated to ca. 5700-3000 BP. On the Korean Peninsula, wide use of Paektusan obsidian in prehistory is also known, with the distance from source to utilization sites ranging up to 350-450 km. Sources 1 and 2 may be termed as local while Source 3 is a remote one for the Primorye.
For the first time on the Russian Far East, we have established on the basis of instrumental geochemical data extensive use of exotic obsidian from the Pleistocene volcano Paektusan, along with local obsidian sources such as the Miocene-Pliocene basalts and rhyolites. There is unquestionable evidence of intensive long distance exchange (and possibly trade) of obsidian within Primorye and with adjacent territories of Northeast Asia, beginning ca. 10,000 BP.
A few obsidian artifacts from the Middle Amur River basin sites, Gromatukha (Initial Neolithic), Osinovoye Ozero (Late Neolithic), and Suhie Protoki (Early Iron Age), belong to a separate geochemical group not associated with the Promorye volcanic glass; this indicates that the source of archaeological obsidian in this area was probably different from the Primorye.
The obsidian artifacts collected on the Sakhalin Island are made
of high-quality rhyolitic volcanic glass. However, no similar sources
of volcanic glass have been found on the Sakhalin. In this case,
we collected volcanic glass samples from the closest known sources on Hokkaido
Island (Japan), Oketo and Shirataki. The Hokkaido obsidians are rhyolite
glasses, and are characterized by very low water content (less that 10%).
The INAA analysis was performed on both Skahalin archaeological obsidian and three major sources of Hokkaido high-quality volcanic glass, Oketo (43°42'N, 143°32'E), Shirataki (43°55'N, 143°09'E), and Tokachi-Mitsumara (43°28'N, 143°10'E). Statistical grouping indicates with at least 95% degree of probability there are three major geochemical groups, and they may be considered as sources of archaeological obsidian of the Sakhalin.
The first source is the Oketo volcano, and obsidian from this source was found on several archaelogical sites, distributed from south to the northern tip of the Sakhalin; the sites are Odoptu, Yuzhaya 2, Bogataya 1, Moneron 5, Beregovoye, Zarechye, Vostochny 1, Lvetskoye 5, Razmolovka, Sadovniki 1, Stary Nabil 5, and Kirpichny 9. Archaeological age for these sites vary from Final Paleolithic (ca. 12,000-10,000 BP) to Paleometal (Okhotsk culture, ca. 2000-1000 BP). The maximum distance from the Oketo source to archaeological site is ca. 1000 km.
The second source is in Shirataki area, Akaishiyama and Horokozawa localities. This obsidian is also distributed throughout Sakhalin Island, from south to north, and the sites are Sennaya 2, Starodubskoye, Porechye 4, Odoptu, Ogonki 5 (layers 1 and 2), Ogonki 6 and 7, Sokol, Bogataya 1, Slavnaya 2, Novoaleksandrovsk 2, 3, and 6, Vostochny 2, Pugachevo 4 and 5, Sadovniki 1, Naiba 6, Dolinsk 1, Bakhura, Blagodatny 3, and Ostantsevaya Cave. The sites belong mostly to Paleolithic and Neolithic stages, and only few (Sadovniki 1, Naiba 6, and Bakhura) correspond to the Paleometal stage. The maximum distance from the Shirataki source to archaeological site is ca. 1000 km.
The third source is also from the Shirataki area, Horokozawa, Hachigozawa, and Ajisaitaki localities. This type of obsidian was found in southern and central parts of the Sakhalin, on several sites such as Yuzhnaya 2, Ogonki 5 (layers 2 and 3), Ogonki 7, Sedykh 1, Lugovka, Sokol, Moneron 5, Vostochny 2, Yasnoye 3, Shebunino 1, Sadovniki 1, Yasnomorskoye 3, Novoaleksandrovsk 3, Ado-Tymovo 4, Puzi 4, Dolinsk 1, Olimpiya 1, and Bakhura. These sites corespond mostly to the Paleolithic and Neolithic stages, and only Sadovniki 1 and Yasnomorskoye 3 belong to the Paleometal stage. The maximum distance from the source area to archaeological site is ca. 750 km.
Between the neighbouring Sakhalin territory and the Japanese Islands the obsidian was used as a raw material mostly in Paleolithic and Jomon, since ca. 30,000 BP. The distance between source and utilization site in Paleolithic was up to 300-400 km. In Jomon, the existence of long distance exchange was revealed; there are findings on the Okinawa Islands of obsidian from the northwestern Kyushu source, locate ca. 1000 km away. Among major sources of archaeological obsidian in Japan, seven are located on the Kanto Plain (central Honshu), four on Hokkaido, and three on Kyushu. One of the most important research studies of obsidian exploitation was conducted by H. Kimura (1998) on the Shirataki source on the Hokkaido. He revealed the existence of Shirataki obsidian on two Sakhalin sites, Sokol and Dolinsk (Takoe) based on fission-track dating of volcanic glass.
We can now demonstrate the extensive use of the Shirataki source by prehistoric inhabitants of the Sakhalin, using the independent results of the INAA analysis, and confirm the earlier assertion of H. Kimura. For the first time we securely established wide use of two Hokkaido sources, Oketo and Shirataki, by the Sakhalin inhabitants.
Since the Final Paleolithic, ca. 12,000 BP, the volcanic glass from Shirataki and Oketo was brought to the northern part of the Sakhalin, Odoptu site (53°23'N, 143°10'E). In southern part of the Sakhalin, volcanic glass was brought from Hokkaido much earlier, at least ca. 20,000 BP (Ogonki 5 site), and may be even earlier (Sennaya site). In the Neolithic and Paleometal periods, the volcanic glass from Hokkaido was widely used in all of the Sakhalin. The absence of local obsidian sources forced people to make long (up to 1000 km) trips or engage in exchange relationships, across the La Perouse (Soya) Strait. If this strait appeared after the Last Glacial Maximum at ca. 10,000-8000 BP, this means that since this time people used the water transport (boats) to cross the natural obstacle of the La Perouse Strait, ca. 40 km wide.
All the requests, questions, suggestions concerning this book
should be sent to Dr. Vladimir K. Popov, Far Eastern Geological Institute,
Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 100-letiya Vladivostoku
Ave. 159, Vladivostok 690022, RUSSIA (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).