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Yana RHS Bone and Ivory Artifacts


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Bone and Ivory Art at the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site
Excavating Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site

Excavations at Yana RHS, Northern Area (2007), viewed from the west. The cultural layer lies within polygons formed by polygonal ice wedges, and is covered by ∼7m of frozen alluvial sediments.

Courtesy Vladimir V. Pitulko and Antiquity

The Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site (RHS) locality is a group of six important Upper Paleolithic sites, all located above the Arctic circle in Siberia, and occupied beginning 28,000 calendar years ago (cal BP). Yana RHS is important for a number of things: it is the farthest north of any Upper Paleolithic site in the world; it may be been occupied by the ancestors of the first colonists in the Americas before they moved into Beringia; and, reported most recently, it contained an extensive and remarkable collection of carved and decorated bone and ivory artifacts. A 2012 article in Antiquity described these artifacts in some detail: researcher Vladimir Pitulko was generous enough to let us get a closer look at them here.

Nearly 3,000 pieces of worked, polished and engraved bone and personal objects have been recovered from the sites to date. This collection represents the oldest forms of elaborated symbolic activity found above the Arctic Circle, and many of the particular objects are unique in Eurasian Paleolithic archaeology.


Pitulko VV, Pavlova EY, Nikolskiy PA, and Ivanova VV. 2012. The oldest art of the Eurasian Arctic: personal ornaments and symbolic objects from Yana RHS, Arctic Siberia. Antiquity 86(333):642-659.

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