New data on the formation of local variations in the Upper Paleolithic of the Caucasus
Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Doronicheva E.V.
VESTNIK ARHEOLOGII ANTROPOLOGII I ETNOGRAFII ¹ 1 (60) (2023)
As of today, very few Upper Paleolithic sites are known on both the southern and the northern slopes of the Caucasus. Their materials allow tracing settlement dynamics in the region from 40/39 to 20 cal ka BP. The change of the research methodology, which today is focused on thorough excavations involving a range of natural science disciplines for complex investigation of the materials, including complete water sieving of the cultural deposits, enables obtaining many new, often unique data on human occupation, life-support strategies, and adaptations of humans in different periods of the Upper Paleolithic in the Caucasus. In our paper, a wide range of issues is discussed, concerned with the cultural affinity, diversity, and interaction of the Upper Paleolithic population of the Caucasus. The earliest Upper Paleolithic industries (40–35 cal ka BP) of the southern as well as the northern slopes of the Caucasus show the closest affinity. Studies of the raw-material strategies indicate the presence of contacts between populations of the northwestern and South Caucasus throughout the entire Upper Paleolithic and the development of extensive social networks. During the Late Upper Paleolithic period, the materials of the North and South Caucasus acquire certain features of distinctiveness, as in the stone industry and in bone tools and decorations. The appearance of geometric microliths in the South Caucasus contemporaneously with the Near East attests to the contacts between these regions. The delivery of seashells from the Caspian Sea coast to the Lesser Caucasus also indicates the southeastern direction of the contacts. The import of seashells from the Black Sea coast to the northwestern Caucasus indicates the southwestern direction of contacts. The unique finds that have analogies in the Upper Paleolithic of the Russian Plain indicate contacts between populations of the northwestern Caucasus and the Russian Plain that belong to different cultural areas. The current data demonstrate formation of local differences in the culture of the Upper Paleolithic populations in both the South and the North Caucasus, including under the influence of the neighboring regions.
Keywords: Upper Paleolithic, remote migrations, social networks, contacts between different cultural areas, Caucasus.
Funding. This research was supported by grant from the Russian Science Foundation ¹ 20-18-00060 “Tendencies of cultural process in the Late Pleistocene in the North-Western Caucasus”.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Article is published: 15.03.2023