Kulbulak has been considered as a key site for the Palaeolithic archaeology in Central Asia. Its significance, however, is under debate. Our analysis of the lithics provides no evidence for a Lower Palaeolithic industry, and challenges the existence of the “Denticulate Mousterian” as a particular Middle Palaeolithic facies in Western Central Asia. One limitation to interpreting the record preserved at Kulbulak, has been the lack of a chronological framework. In this paper, we report on the first age results that we have obtained for the sedimentary sequence using luminescence signals from potassium feldspar.We applied a conventional approach, which consists of stimulating single-aliquots of feldspar with infrared at 50 °C after a preheat of 250 °C for 60 s. The characteristics of this luminescence signal are documented, and it is shown to suffer from anomalous fading. The fading rates measured in the laboratory are used for correcting the ages. In general, the fading-corrected ages are stratigraphically consistent and agree with the archaeological evidence; they bracket the upper 6 m of the sequence in between 39 ± 4 ka and 82 ± 9 ka. These are among the first dates for human occupation during the Upper and Middle Palaeolithic in the region, but should be interpreted with caution owing to the limitations of the fading-correction model.
Quaternary International, 2014, Vol 324, p. 180-189