Buried paleosols of the Upper Paleolithic multilayered site Kostenki-1

B. F. Aparin, N. I. Platonova, E. Yu Sukhacheva, A. E. Dudin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The morphology and chemical and physicochemical properties of paleosols buried at the Upper Paleolithic multilayered site Kostenki-1 in Kostenki–Borshchevo district of Voronezh oblast were studied. Four in situ paleosols formed 20–40(45) ka ago were separated in the archaeological excavation. Together with the surface soils, they characterized two different epochs of pedogenesis—the interstadial and interglacial (Holocene) epochs—and three shorter cycles of pedogenesis. The traces of human occupation in the studied hollow in the Late Paleolithic were found in the layers corresponding to the interstadial epoch. The buried paleosols had a simple horizonation: A(W)–C. A shallow thickness of the soil profiles could be due to relatively short periods of pedogenesis and to the shallow embedding by the carbonate geochemical barrier. The degree of the organic matter humification in the paleosols varied from 0.6 to 1.5, which corresponded to the mean duration of the period of biological activity of 60 to 150 days per year characterizing the climatic conditions of the tundra, taiga, forest-steppe, and steppe natural zones. In the excavation Kostenki-1 (2004–2005), soil–sediment sequences composed of five series of lithological layers with soil layers on top of them were found. Their deposition proceeded in two phases—the water phase and the aerial phase—that predetermined the morphology and composition of the soil–sediment sequences. The history of sediment accumulation in the studied hollow consisted of five stages. Similar morphologies and compositions of the soil–sediment sequences corresponding to these stages attest to the cyclic pattern of their development. The stages of sedimentation and soil formation corresponded to cyclic climate fluctuations with changes in the temperature and moisture conditions. A comparative analysis of the morphology and properties of the paleosols and soil–sediment sequences made it possible to characterize the environmental conditions of ancient humans and the dynamics of the climate during the past 50 ka.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1343
Number of pages15
JournalEurasian Soil Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • ancient humans
  • Chernozems
  • climate change
  • landscapes
  • paleoreconstruction
  • pedogenetic phases
  • Regosols
  • sedimentation stages
  • soil evolution
  • Upper Paleolithic

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