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The Siberian Times

Researchers discover ancient ‘weapon-making site’ - beside the skeleton of ‘hunted’ woolly mammoth

By Anna Liesowska
24 June 2019

Evidence on Arctic island show how people 10,000 or more years ago carved sharp slices off tusks to use for killing and cutting.

The scientists dug out the remains of the mammoth skeleton from the thawing permafrost. Picture: Innokenty Pavlov

Palaeontologists made the exceptionally rare discovery on Kotelny Island part of the New Siberian archipelago.

The island is the site of a major new Russian military base in the Arctic, called Northern Shamrock.

The scientists dug out the remains of the mammoth skeleton from the thawing permafrost and found the tusk had evidence of human handiwork.  

Tusk


Tusk


Innokenty Pavlov at mammoth's skeleton


Skeleton

The remains of the extinct beast weighing 23.6kg are being taken back to regional capital Yakutsk for further detailed study. Pictures: Innokenty Pavlov

‘Traces of processing, presumably by an ancient man, were found on the tusk fragments,’ said mammoth expert Innokenty Pavlov who found the remains.

Slivers of ivory have sharp edges, useful for butchering, but also used by ancient man for killing, for example in spears.

Map


Kotelny Island


Kotelny Island

Palaeontologists made the exceptionally rare discovery on Kotelny Island part of the New Siberian archipelago. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Innokenty Pavlov

‘The state of tusk remnants clearly points that the humans sliced it to make implements (and weapons).'

The palaeontologists are not certain yet that this beast was hunted and will undertake further study, but it appears to have a hunting wound on a lower rib.

The remains of the extinct beast weighing 23.6kg are being taken back to regional capital Yakutsk for further detailed study.

‘We will do radiocarbon dating of the remnants, but for now we can say that the age of the tusk is not less than 10,000 years old,’ he said.

Northern Shamrock


Northern Shamrock

Northern Shamrock military base located at Kotelny Island.

The expedition was organised with the help of Russian Geographical Society and Russian Ministry of Defence.

Pavlov and his team are from the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia.

In the Pleistocene Era, this island was connected to the mainland. It is a well-known mammoth necropolis. 

Spear of mammoth bone


Spear of mammoth bone


Spear of mammoth bone


Grooves for microliths


Spear of mammoth bone

The ivory spades dated as 28,500 and 12,000 - 10,000 years were found in Yakutia. Pictures: Michil Yakovlev

Other sites also show human activity here at the time.

The site is close to a pygmy woolly mammoth’s last resting place.

The scientists had hoped to excavate the pygmy - up to 50,000 years old -  this summer but were unable to do so because its grave was waterlogged.

The traces of human interference on the tip of the right tusk of Sopkarginsky mammoth (Zhenya). Picture: Vladimir Pitulko

Traces on the tusk

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