Mongolian “Neolithic” and Early Bronze Age ground stone tools from the northern edge of the Gobi Desert
The transition from the Mongolian Neolithic to the Bronze Age is not well understood. Within Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, over a period of five years, we identified a number of sites with dense surface artefact scatters and features that seem to represent this transition period. Evident in those concentrations are characteristic microblade cores, microblades, “thumbnail" flake scrapers, projectile points, ground stone tools, and stone features of unknown function. Between 2012 and 2014 we collected ground stone artefacts from four sites and sediment samples from three sites. With permission of Mongolian authorities, the artefacts from one site and sediment samples from three sites were sent for botanical analyses to the University of Texas, Austin, Environmental Archaeology Laboratory. Preliminary results indicate that plant remains are present on the ground stone artefacts: dendritic long-cells from a deep pore of one artefact and starch grains from the pores of six of the seven artefacts. These data present the first opportunity to understand what resources “Neolithic” people were processing with ground stone tools in this area and further our opportunity to better understand the little-known “Neolithic”-Early Bronze Age transition period in Central Asia. This paper describes the ground stone artefacts and further explores the results of data retrieved from some of these artefacts.
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