By Way of Millennia: Virtual tours to the Stone Age sites in Central and North Asia

We invite you to embark on a virtual tour of famous Stone Age sites. The discovery and study of these sites have significantly altered researchers' understanding of the ancient history of the region. The first phase of the tour will focus on five sites:

Our virtual catalog is yet to be updated.

The project is being carried out by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.The project was launched in 2023 thanks to the support of a grant provided by the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia for science communicators, one of the support measures for the federal project “Popularization of Science and Technology”. In 2024, with the support of the same program, the catalog will be replenished with unique monuments of the Russian Altai.

You can send questions to researchers and feedback to


Virtual 3D tours

Stone Age in Central and North Asia

The Central and North Asia region has captured the keen interest of archaeologists due to its historical significance as a crossroad of civilizations across human history. Undoubtedly, Central Asia is most renowned for its prominence during Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when the Great Silk Road linked the Eastern and Western realms of human civilization. However, even during earlier times, in the Stone Age, Central Asia served as a hub for migration routes, where ancient human populations traversed the vast expanse of Eurasian territories.

Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the data obtained by archaeologists, which suggests that Central and North Asia will play a pivotal role in resolving a widely debated issue regarding the timing of the emergence and distribution of modern humans, their relationship with previous human populations, and the correlation of this phenomenon with changes in the material culture of Stone Age humans, particularly the significant advancements in tool production techniques.

Over the course of several decades, comprehensive interdisciplinary investigations have been conducted on Paleolithic sites in Central and North Asia, which commenced in the late 20th century. These studies have examined numerous exceptional industrial assemblages. The utilization of advanced techniques in recording, dating, and interpreting archaeological and scientific data pertaining to the Paleolithic sites in this region has propelled research to unprecedented heights. This approach enables the formulation of new hypotheses and the development of novel concepts in the study of human settlement stages across Eurasia.

Nevertheless, when compared to the well-explored regions of Europe and the Middle East, the history of the ancient Stone Age in Central and North Asia has remained a relatively uncharted territory, characterized by many gaps and unresolved mysteries.

Stone Age in Altai

Altai played a fundamental role in the formation of ancient cultures; it is not without reason that it is called the “cradle of cultures.” Starting from the late 1960s, employees of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS (in those years - the Institute of History, Philology and Philosophy of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences) conducted research on ancient human sites in this region, often after decades returning to work with the collected materials and already known objects, since emerging new research methods make it possible to clarify dating and better imagine how tens of thousands of years ago people explored the vastness of Altai. The Altai collection of tools and jewelry of ancient man now forms a unique exhibition of the Museum of History and Culture of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East located at the institute in Novosibirsk.