New chronology for the Middle Palaeolithic of the southern Caucasus suggests early demise of Neanderthals in this region

Pinhasi, Ron and Nioradze, Medea and Tushabramishvilli, Nikoloz and Lordkipanidze, David and Pleurdeau, David and Moncel, Marie-Helene and Adler, Daniel and Stringer, Christofer and Higham, Thomas (2012) New chronology for the Middle Palaeolithic of the southern Caucasus suggests early demise of Neanderthals in this region. Journal of Human Evolution, 63 (6). pp. 770-780. ISSN 00472484

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Neanderthal populations of the southern and northern Caucasus became locallyextinct during the Late Pleistocene. The timing of their extinction is one key inour understanding of the relationship between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (AMH) in Eurasia. Recent re-dating of the end of the Middle Palaeolithic (MP) at Mezmaiskaya Cave, Northern Caucasus and Ortvale Klde, southern Caucasus, suggest that Neanderthals did not survive after 39 ka cal BP. In this paperwe extend the analysis and present a revised regional chronology for MP occupational phases in western Georgia that is based on a series of model-based Bayesian analyses of radiocarbon dates from the caves of Sakajia, Ortvala and Bronze Cave. This allows the establishment of probability intervals for the onset and ending of each of the dated levels and for the end of the MP occupation at the three sites. Our results for Sakajia indicate the ending of the late Middle Palaeolithic (LMP) and the start of the Upper Palaeolithic (UP) occurred between 40200 – 37140 cal BP. The end of the MP in the neighbouring site of Ortvala occurred earlier at 43540–41420 cal BP (at 68.2% prob.). The dating of MP layers from Bronze cave confirms that it does not contain LMP phases. These results imply that Neanderthals did not survive in the southern Caucasus after 37 ka cal BP. It fits best with a model of Neanderthal extinction around the same period as the one reported for the northern Caucasus and for regions of Europe. Taken together with previous reports of the earliest UP phases in the region and the lack of archaeological evidence for an insitu transition, these results indicate that AMH arrived in the Caucasus a few millennia after this demise and hence suggest that the two species did not interact in this region. Further dating work is planned to add strength to the developing chronological picture.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Divisions: Faculties/Schools > School of Natural Sciences and Engineering
Depositing User: Prof. Dr. Nikoloz Tushabramishvili
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2014 08:33
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2015 08:48

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