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The researchers used microscopic examinations to analyze the marks and notches used during the carving of the pieces.
A group of Russian archaeologists from the Siberian Federal University and Novosibirsk State University have managed to identify in detail the manufacturing process and technology used by humans more than 20,000 years ago to carve mammoth ivory, according to astudy prepublished in Archeological Research in Asia.
The researchers studied a series of beads of various shapes and sizes, fragments of what could be a bracelet, various objects of unclear function and a mammoth figurine, all carved from mammoth ivory. The pieces were found in the archaeological site belonging to the Upper Paleolithic of Ust-Kova, in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk.
During the investigation, "a detailed microscopic analysis of each object was carried out to identify the tools used in their manufacture by the marks they left",Nikolay Drozdov explained, professor at the Siberian Federal University and co-author of the study.
The results of the microscopic examination made it possible to identify the production sequence, as well as the stone instruments probably used to process the mammoth ivory. Impact marks and notches on the found artifacts reveal the use of leveling blades, hand drills, and burins.
According to the scientists, the production process began with the decomposition of the mammoth tusk into various segments, using the smaller plates to make the beads, which were drilled using the stone drill.
Meanwhile, the largest ivory pieces were used to make the figurines. To carve the mammoth, the craftsman outlined a head and legs with a leveling blade and then removed the excess bone with a cutter. Once the figure was finished, it was decorated with a pattern to imitate the eyes and hair, the publication explains.
In the same way, the scientists analyzed the chemical composition of the remains of red and black pigments present in the mammoth figurine, with which they discovered that the paint used was made from calcium, an element presumably extracted from rock located not far from the site.
In addition, archaeologists were able to identify several layers of paint on the surface and holes of some of the beads, suggesting that they were used and redecorated on various occasions.
For the authors, the research will help improve the "understanding of the genesis and evolution of ancient technologies related to the manufacture of paleoart in northern Eurasia" and provide new parameters to compare the techniques and tools used by different human groups in nearby territories.
Credit: Eurekalert and RT.