Kostenki-Borshevo Sites

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kostenki-Borshevo Sites


a group of more than 20 Upper Paleolithic settlements on the right bank of the Don River, located south of Voronezh in the vicinity of two neighboring villages—Kostenki and Borshevo (Borshchevo). The settlements were discovered by I. S. Poliakov in 1879. The principal excavations were carried out in the 1920’s and 1930’s by P. P. Efimenko and in the 1940’s through the 1960’s by A. N. Rogachev. The investigations at Kostenki-Borshevo have played an important role in developing the modern methods of excavating Paleolithic settlements, in researching the problem of Paleolithic dwellings and the meaning of the female figurines, in the periodization of the Upper Paleolithic period, and in differentiating various Upper Paleolithic cultures and establishing their interrelationships. Some of the sites contained several cultural levels dating from various stages and cultures of the Upper Paleolithic.

The following are the most important sites and discoveries.

Kostenki I (the Poliakov site) consisted of five levels. Preserved in the uppermost level were the remains of a dwelling (35 X 15 m) built directly on the ground with hearths situated along the long axis. Also preserved were subterranean dwellings and pits for domestic use. The artifacts included flint tips, hoes made from the tusks of mammoths, small bone shovels, a rod made of deer antler, approximately 40 statuettes of women carved from mammoth tusk and marl, figurines of a bear and the cave lion, and small anthropomorphic heads made of marl. The lowest level contained triangular flint tips with a concave base, carefully trimmed by pressure flaking.

Kostenki II (the Zamiatin site) yielded the remains of a dwelling (7 X 8 m) with a hearth in the center; the dwelling was constructed from the large bones of mammoths. A burial chamber of mammoth bones was adjacent to it and contained a burial of a Cro-Magnon man in a seated position.

Preserved in the upper of the two cultural levels at the Kostenki IV site (Aleksandrovka) were the remains of two round dwellings measuring about 6 m in diameter, each with a central hearth. The artifacts included polished perforated disks made of schist. The lower level revealed the remains of two elongated dwellings (34 and 23 m long and 5.5 m wide) with longitudinally situated hearths.

Kostenki VIII (the Tel’man site) contained four cultural levels. The upper contained the remains of a round dwelling dug partly into the ground measuring about 5.5 m in diameter and having a central hearth. The articles found included flint leafshaped, pressure-flaked tips. The second level contained fragments of partially charred human bones and also flint utensils— miniature plates and needlelike points.

Kostenki XI (Anosovka II) contained no less than five cultural levels. Discovered in the upper level were the remains of an elliptical dwelling measuring about 9 m in diameter and constructed of large mammoth bones. The lower levels yielded interesting triangular flint tips resembling those found in the lower level of Kostenki I.

Kostenki XIV (Mount Markina) contained four cultural levels. The third revealed the flexed burial, colored with red ochre, of a man with some Negroid characteristics.

Kostenki XV (Gorodtsov site) was found to contain the burial, also colored, of a child (about six years of age) resembling the Cro-Magnons of Czechoslovakia. Flint and bone implements and more than 150 perforated arctic-fox teeth were found near the burial.

The Borshevo II site had three cultural levels, which were typical of the very end of the Upper Paleolithic and the transitional period to the Mesolithic period. The upper level (the remains of a temporary camp of nomad horse hunters) had no mammoth bones; however, some reindeer bones were found. The flint implements were of the microlithic type.


Efimenko, P. P. Kostenki I. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Efimenko, P. P. Pervobytnoe obshchestvo, 3rd ed. Kiev, 1953.
Rogachev, A. N. Aleksandrovskoe poselenie drevnekamennogo veka u sela Kostenki na Donu. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Rogachev, A. N. “Mnogosloinye stoianki Kostenkovsko-Borshevskogo raiona na Donu i problema razvitiia kuPtury v epokhu verkhnego paleolita na Russkoi ravnine.” In the collection Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, no. 59. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Boriskovskii, P. I. Ocherki po paleolitu basseina Dona. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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