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COMMON PART


Project Number17-78-20082

Project titleHuman-nature interaction in the Past in the Central Caucasus: dynamics of environmental change and technological innovations, and subsistence strategies

Project LeadDoronicheva Ekaterina

AffiliationANO Laboratory of Prehistory,

Implementation period2017 - 2019

Research area 08 - HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, 08-103 - Archeology

KeywordsDynamics of changes in the natural environment, paleogeography, volcanism, Central Caucasus, adaptations, migrations, technological innovations, raw material strategies, economic changes, transformation of social institutions.


 

PROJECT CONTENT


Annotation
The project is aimed to research the human-nature interaction in the past, including studying of the dynamics of natural environmental changes, mechanisms of the emergence of technological innovations, and adaptations of subsistence strategies in human society. The study of ancient periods of human history, especially the Stone Age, provides new data on these issues, which are important not only for the study of the past, but also can make a significant contribution to our understanding of mechanisms of natural changes and their impact on man and society in different historical periods. The newest multidisciplinary studies of the Stone Age sites provide important, fundamentally new data on the issues of human adaptations to changing environmental conditions. The results of recent scientific research allow us to assess the influence of the natural environmental dynamics during the Stone Age, and especially during the Paleolithic, on the evolution of humans and their culture. At the present level of development of science it becomes clear that the Paleolithic era is associated with the most important changes in the cultural, social and economic development of man. These changes are reflected in the appearance of the first burials and symbolism, occupation of new ecological niches, emergence of new technologies, novel life support strategies, more complex social organization, as well as cultural influences and contacts among different human groups in different territories of Eurasia. A comprehensive study of these processes makes it possible to investigate the complex process of the emergence of a new anthropological type of Homo sapiens and the basic elements of modern human culture. The research of changes in the natural environments and human subsistence during the Paleolithic has a high significance in modern studies. Different aspects of this research are now addressed by both Russian (A.P. Derevianko, M.V. Shunkov, H.A. Amirkhanov, N.B. Leonova, L.V. Golovanova, V.B. Doronichev, V.V. Pitulko, A.A. Sinitsyn, and others) and foreign scholars (A. de Lumley, O. Bar-Yosef, H. Dibble, J. Zilhao, P. Goldberg, S. Kuhn, D. Shea, and others) working in different parts of Eurasia. However, many regions remain "white spots". One of these areas is the Central Caucasus. Although there are numerous evidences of contacts among the populations of neighboring regions and this area, which is rich in different types of lithic raw materials (especially, in obsidian), there are known little evidence of human occupation of this region only after the Last Glacial Maximum – in the final Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic. The earlier periods of human occupation are known only as a few surface collections of Mousterian artifacts (localities near Zaukovo village), which age is difficult to evaluate. Despite the fact that large sources of obsidian raw material are known in the region, which had a very high value in the past and were exploited by the Paleolithic populations of North-Western and probably Southern Caucasus, only two Upper Paleolithic sites (rock-shelters of Sosruko and Badynоko) are found in the region. Thus, the discovery by the principal investigator of the proposed project of a new stratified Middle Paleolithic site in Saradj-Chuko grotto is an important scientific discovery. This scientific project is aimed to undertake an interdisciplinary study of the multilayered Pleistocene and Holocene deposits in the Saradj-Chuko grotto. It will allow to study the earliest cultural processes in the Central Caucasus, collect new data about cultural areas, human contacts, migrations, and adaptations in the context of environmental dynamics during the Late Pleistocene in the entire Caucasus. A comprehensive, multidisciplinary investigation of Saradj-Chuko grotto will include archaeological excavations of the site, a study of the planigraphical structure of the occupation levels and their micro-stratigraphy, absolute dating, petrographic and geochemical analyses to identify sources of raw materials and areas of human migrations. A geological-geomorphological study of the area will be conducted to reconstruct paleolandscapes. Palynological and paleontological studies are planned to determine paleogeographic conditions of the human habitats in the past. Zooarcheological study of paleontological collections will allow reconstructing hunting strategies in this region. An important direction of the project is the study of paleovolcanic cycles and synchronization of Caucasian eruptions with large periods of volcanism throughout the Alpine belt, which will allow synchronizing large climatic cycles and cultural changes in the territory of Western Eurasia. The results obtained by specialists from various scientific fields will allow reconstructing changes in hunting and raw material procurement strategies, and structure of settlements, the emergence of innovations not only in the production of tools, but also in the social life (clothing, jewelry, etc.) and the social structure of the society, for which further data from the results of genetic studies will be involved. The proposed project, with collaboration of various specialists involving geomorphologists, geologists, palinologists, paleontologists, archaeozoologists, geochemists, petrographers, and specialists on absolute dating, and based on the use of new techniques for analysis of archaeological sources will allow obtaining information about genesis of cultural specifics in the area, peculiarities of human occupations, as well as cultural contacts, mobility, and adaptations in the past, contacts of the human population of the region with neighboring territories, and adaptations of the hunter-gatherers societies to changing environmental conditions. A comprehensive study of the environmental dynamics and adaptations of human society during the Paleolithic will allow making an important contribution to the solution of one of the most important problem – the interaction of man and nature. Based on the results of the Project, the participants intend to prepare a series of papers in peer-reviewed journals and a collective momograph.

Expected results
The study of the problem of the impact of major climate cycles and volcanic activity on human colonization of different regions, dynamics of human settlement and migrations, mechanisms of the emergence of technological innovations in the culture, and adaptations to changing environmental conditions will allow to discuss the mechanisms of interaction betwee man and nature, and basic mechanisms of human adaptation, which ultimately will give us the possibility to explain not only human survival in the past but formulate a response to challenges of natural environments in the future. A multidisciplinary study of the dynamics of environmental changes in ancient times and human adaptations to the changing environmental conditions will allow to study processes of human cultural evolution, significance of technological innovations for interaction between man and nature. The main goal of the proposed project is a comprehensive study of life-support systems of ancient humans and behavioral patterns related to technology, raw materials, hunting, domestic activity, and mobility. For the first time in the Central Caucasus it will be examined the problem of the initial human occupation of the region, cultural contacts and adaptations in different periods of the Middle Paleolithic and in different climatic conditions. The study will allow to obtain the first absolute dates for the Middle Paleolithic in Central Caucasus, to correlate it with Neanderthal sites in the neighbouring areas of North-Western, Eastern and Southern Caucasus. It will be examined the archaeological industry, with emphasis on its genesis and evolutionary changes during the Middle Paleolithic period. Petroarchaeological and geochemical analyses will allow to study human migrations within the Central Caucasus region and contacts with other regions. The project suggests the synthesis of interdisciplinary research, development of local chrono-stratigraphy for the region, reconstruction of paleolandscape and paleogeography of the region during the late Pleistocene. A comprehensive study will enable us to reconstruct cultural-economic changes, migrations, and social relations in different periods of the Middle Paleolithic, determine influence of climatic cycles on changes of life support systems of the ancient human population in the Central Caucasus. Especially important is the study of connections of the Central Caucasus with the western and eastern parts of the Caucasus, settlement dynamics in different regions of the Caucasus, origins and evolution of culture in the Middle Paleolithic. Based on the results of the Project, the participants intend to prepare a series of articles in both Russian and English, at least 10 author lists in total, and publish them in leading peer-reviewing journals included in Scopus or WOS. Preliminary themes for publications of research on the project: The interaction of man and nature in ancient times in the Central Caucasus: dynamics of environmental changes and technological innovations, adaptations of life support systems: 1. The dynamics of environmental changes and human settlement in the Paleolithic of the Central Caucasus - журнал Quaternary International. SCOPUS 2. Neanderthal subsistence strategies at Saradj-Chuko Grotto - журнал Quaternary International. SCOPUS 3. Saradj-Chuko Grotto – the first Middle Palaeolithic site in the Central Caucasus (first results of multidisciplinary research). // Archaeology, ethnography and anthropology of Eurasia. SCOPUS, RISC, PAC 4. New data about Neanderthal long-distance mobility up to 300 km in the Caucasus and neighboring regions. // Journal of Archaeological Science. SCOPUS. IF: 2.406 5. Nouveau site du Paléolithique Moyen dans le Caucase Central (resultants d’études complexes). (in French) A new Middle Palaeolithic site in the Central Caucasus (results of multidisciplinary research) – L’Anthropologie. SCOPUS, WOS, RISC, PAC 6. Regional and inter-regional connections of Neanderthals of the Central Caucasus // «Current Antropology. SCOPUS, WOS, RINC, PAC 7. Paleolithic Hunters of the Caucasus: material culture and survival strategies // Археология, этнография и антропология Евразии. SCOPUS, RINC, PAC 8. Results of complex absolute dating of the Saradj-Chuko Grotto (Central Caucasus) // Applied Radiation and Isotopes. Scopus 9. Magnetic and mineralogical characteristics of rocks at the Saradj-Chuko Grotto Paleolithic site (Central Caucasus) // Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth. Scopus 10. Paleogeographical conditions of human occupation in the Middle Palaeolithic // Russian Archaeology. RISC, PAC. 11. Genesis and evolution of lithic industries in the Central Caucasus. – Russian Archaeology. RISC, PAC. 12. Hunting strategies of Neanderthals in the Central Caucasus. – Brief reports of the Institute of Archaeology RAS. 13. Paleogeoecological reconstructions of mountain relief of the Baksan Ricer Valley // Geomorphology. RINC. 14. Paleogeography of Paleolithic at the Central Caucasus // Stratum Plus. RINC. 15. Preliminary results of absolute dating at Saradj-Chuko Grotto (central Caucasus) // Eurasia in Cenozoic. RINC 16. Sources of lithic raw materials in the Central Caucasus and Paleolithic Man// Eurasia in Cenozoic. RINC Based on the results of the Project, the participants intend to prepare a sa collective monograph "Paleogeography and settlement of the Central Caucasus in the Paleolithic: cultural innovations, specific features and mobility" (preliminary title), in which results of the project will be published, including a map of the distribution of flint and obsidian sources in the region, data of petrographic and geochemical analyses of rock samples. This project will make a significant contribution to one of fundamental scientific problems such as evolution and origin of modern human species. Main results of the study can be used in research in the field of Paleolithic archaeology, preparing works on the history of primitive society and development of culture in the Stone Age, preparation of special courses in schools and universities, creation of museum exhibitions, and scientific dissemination work. The results can be used in textbooks on the history of Kabardino-Balkaria and the Caucasus in general, student textbooks, and popular scientific literature on the history of Kabardino-Balkaria. Mapping and study of sources of flint and obsidian will allow to create a regional map of natural sources of these raw materials. It will be indispensable for archaeologists working in the region, in search of new Stone Age sites. It will be created one of the first in Russia lithotecs (exemplary collection of raw material samples from studied sources). The data will be published. This will allow other specialists involved in the study of later periods of human occupation of the Caucasus to compare stone tools in their collections with the studied sources, and study human mobility and adaptations in historical times. Also, the data about raw material sources can be used in geological works in the Caucasus, geological and archaeological investigations. The identification of new sites in the course of preposed field works will allow to put them under state protection, like it was done in 2016 for the grotto of Saradj-Chuko. The principal investigator of the project E.V. Doronicheva prepared a special card and other documents for the site, which were submitted to the local Administration of State Protection for Objects of Cultural Heritage in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. The archaeological objects obtained in the course of the study will join collections of the National Museum of Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (http://museum-kbrglav.ru/; Nalchik). They can be used in the exhibition about the ancient history of the region, and also for other exhibitional activities. The collections would have amounted honor to many major museums, such as the State Historical Museum (Moscow) or the State Hermitage Museum (Saint-Petersburg).


 

REPORTS


Annotation of the results obtained in 2017
In 2017-2018, the research team of the project began an interdisciplinary research of the only site known in the Elbrus region, in the central part of the Northern Caucasus, which includes multilayered sediments dating from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene. The site, Saradj-Chuko grotto is confined to an extrusive dome formed in an ignimbrite rock mass. This is the first cave site of this type, which is found in the Caucasus. The cave is oriented to the south-east and has the area of over 300 sq. m. In 2017, archaeological excavations were carried out in Saradj-Chuko grotto on the area of about 8 sq. m. Archaeological materials from the upper layers 1, 1A, 1B, and 1C include fragments of ceramics, which are dated back to the Medieval period. Artefacts are absent in layers 2 and 4. Isolated stone artefacts were found in layers 3 and 5. The assemblage from layer 6A includes 73 pieces, comprising flakes (6) and laminar flakes (3). One tool is represented by a fragment of side scraper. The layer 6A materials can be dated preliminary to the Middle Palaeolithic period. At present the most rich in artefacts (about 200 arefacts per sq. m., with the thickness of 20 cm) is layer 6; this allows us to make a conclusion that the cave was actively occupied during formation of this layer. The assemblage from 2017 excavation of layer 6B includes 1591 pieces. The vast majority (98%) of artefacts are made of obsidian. A preliminary conclusion about the flaking technique is based on the analysis of cores (0,8%) and flakes (18,4%). Unifacial, one-platform cores prevail. The flaking was carried out mainly in parallel direction from slightly convex surfaces. Laminar flakes are numerous(35,2%), although blades (5,5%) and triangular Levallois flakes (3,1%) are rare. Flakes with unidirectional negatives are represented by a large series (27%). Facetted striking platforms are most numerous (46,3%). In the assemblage from layer 6B, 42 (2,6%) retouched tools were defined. A large number of chips (609 pieces, 38,2%) suggests that most of the tools were retouched inside the cave. Side scrapers prevail (10 pieces) among definable tools. Diagonal (3), convergent (3), angular (2) scrapers, and one double scraper were also identified. Tools with thinning retouch (3 convergent tools and scraper with a back) were defined. One Mousterian point was also found in layer 6B. Petrographic and geochemical analyses of stone raw materials allowed to obtain the first data about flint sources, which were used by inhabitants of Saradj-Chuko grotto. The analyses point to a local origin of flint from Hana-Haku-1, Shtauchukua-1 and Kamenka sources located at the distance of 5-7 km from the site. The composition of artefacts made from flint indicates that ready to use tools and flakes were delivered to the site. Most artefacts in the layer 6B industry are made of obsidian from Zayukovo source located 6-7 km away. Analysis of faunal remains from layer 6B suggests that the cave was located in the upper forest boundary and in moderate humid environments. In layer 6A, 5 horizons were identified. According to faunal data, environments characteristic to the upper forest boundary - steppe dry grasslands bordered with sparse growth woodlands (hor. 1), or alternated with alpine meadows (hor. 2), or bordered with the upper forest boundary (hor. 3), or with dry alpine meadows (hor. 4), or with the upper forest boundary and steppe meadows (hor. 5) - existed during this period. During formation of layer 5, environmental and climatic conditions corresponded to high-mountain steppe meadows. In layer 4, there were mountain forest conditions and moderately humid climate. In layer 3, it can be assumed that climatic conditions were close to alpine and quite dry. In layer 2, the conditions were warmer than at present. In layers 1, 1A, 1B, and 1C species typical to modern fauna of the region were found. Palinological studies of sediments in Saradj-Chuko grotto allowed to identify and characterize stages of vegetation development in the area of the site. The first stage defined in layer 7 and the lower level of layer 6B is characterized by pollen zone I. The spectrum indicates afforestation of the cave surroundings. The forests had beech-oak-elm composition with undergrowth from hazel. There are noted single relict species currently growing in subtropical climate (hickory, canadian hemlock, magnolia, ephedra). Pollen zone II (layer 6, middle part) is arbitrary defined at this stage of research, as samples were loosely filled with microfossils. This could be a reflection of cooling. In pollen zone III (layer 6B, upper part), oak-hornbeam forests with undergrowth of hazel and hornbeam on slopes were developed. Pollen zone IV (top of layer 6B) is confined to a cooling phase. Pollen zone V (layer 6A) reflects a warm interval. In pollen zone VI (top of layer 6A, layer 5, bottom of layer 4), the composition of vegetation indicates cool climatic conditions. In pollen zone VII (layer 4, bottom of layer 3), predominance of small-leaved tree species (birch and alder) is noted first and then the spectrum indicates climate warming and increase of humidity. Pollen zone VIII comprises subzones VIIIa (layer 3) and VIIIb (Holocene layers 1 and 2). The climate was moderately warm and humid. The study of deposits by the method of micro-probe analysis and electron microscopic photography allowed to detect presence of tephra (ash) in many samples. The highest amount of volcanic particles was noted in layer 6. Zones, which are characterized mainly by glacial (layer 7) or humid (layers 2, 6) type of lithogenesis, were defined. Nonclimatic (volcanogenic-sedimentary) type of lithogenesis is noted in some layers. The ratio of Na2O/K2O = 1 suggests that this ash is supposedly associated with the Elbrus volcano. In the first year of the project, 6 radiocarbon dates were received. For bottom of layer 6 two dates (SpB-2613 and SpB-2616) indicate the age of >40 000 yr BP. This shows that the age of layer 6B lies beyond the limit of radiocarbon dating, and other methods of absolute dating should be used for the Middle Palaeolithic sediments of Saradj-Chuko grotto. Dates obtained for layers 6A, 5, and 3 require additional verification. The date of 2044 ± 30 yr BP (SpB-2536) obtained for layer 1В is consistent with the archaeological material. As the result of 2017 research in Saradj-Chuko grotto a complex history of sediment formation was established. Given the absolute elevation (above sea level, asl) of Saradj-Chuko grotto (940 m asl), it can be noted that in other Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Northern Caucasus, which have similar elevations, such as Matuzka cave (720 m asl; Golovanova et al., 2006) and Weasel cave (1125 m asl; Hidjrati et al., 2010), conditions of broad-leaved forests with a wide variety of exotics are identified only in layers that are correlated with phases of the interglacial oxygen-isotopic stage 5. In Matuzka cave only in the earliest layers (dated to stages 5e–5a) there was extensive development of forests with a high content of exotics, among which there were represented walnut, chestnut, and hickory defined in layer 6B of Saradj-Chuko grotto. Based on these comparative data, the age of layer 6B in Saradj-Chuko grotto can be preliminary determined from stage 5e to stage 5a, in the interval from 120 to 70 kyr ago. The techno-typological characteristics of the industry from layer 6B allow to characterize it as Levallois-laminar Mousterian, which is similar to the Mousterian assemblages of the North-Eastern and Southern Caucasus. The Elbrus area – region where it is located the only obsidian source in the Northern Caucasus – attracted the ancient man, being a contact zone of different cultural traditions. Publications: 1. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Kulkova M.A., Odinokova E.V., Shackley M.S. Nouvelles données sur l'utilisation des matières premières lithiques et la mobilité pendant le Paléolithique moyen du Caucase du Nord. // L'Anthropologie. 2018. RISC, Scopus, WOS, Q1. Impact Factor: 0,787. Accepted for publication. 2. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Spasovskiy Yu.N., Kulkova M.A., Odinokova E.V., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Muriy A.A., Tregub T.F., Volkov M.A., Shirobokov I.G., Tselmovitch V.A., Korzinova A.S. Nouveau site du Paléolithique Moyen dans le Caucase Central (resultats preliminares des études complexes). // L'Anthropologie. 2018. RISC, Scopus, WOS, Q1. Impact Factor: 0,787. Accepted for publication. 3. Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Doronicheva E.V. New data on the Palaeolithic of the Elbrus region. // Russian Archaeology. RISC. Submitted, under review. 4. Shackley M.S., Doronicheva E.V., Doronichev V.B., Golovanova L.V., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Muriy A.A. The Zayukovo (Baksan) Archaeological obsidian source, Greater Caucasus, Russia. // Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. RISC, Scopus, WOS, Q1. Impact Factor: 0,54. Submitted, under review. 5. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Korzinova A.S., Tselmovitch V.A., Kulkova M.A., Odinokova E.V. Shirobokov I.G., Ivanov V.V., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Muriy A.A., Tregub T.F., Volkov M.A., Shackley M.S., Spasovskiy Yu.N. The first laminar Mousterian obsidian industry in the north-central Caucasus, Russia (preliminary results of a multi-disciplinary research at Saradj-Chuko Grotto) // Archaeological Research in Asia. Scopus, WOS, Q1. Impact Factor: 0.679. Submitted, under review. 6. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Shackley M.S., Nedomolkin A.G. At the crossroads: new data about exploitation of the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source in Northern Caucasus during the Paleolithic // Antiquity. RISC, Scopus, WOS, Q1. Impact Factor: 1,536. Submitted, under review. 7. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Kulkova M.A., Shackley M.S., Muriy A.A., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Korzinova A.S. Saradj-Chuko Grotto – the first stratified Middle Palaeolithic site in the Elbrus region (preliminary data) // Proceedings of the Vth (XXIst) all–Russian archaeological congress in Barnaul-Belokurikha: collection of scientific articles / eds., Derevianko A.P, Tishkin A.A. – Barnaul: Altai university press, 2017. p. 30-34. Published. Conference theses: 1. Doronicheva E.V. Multidisciplinary research in Saradj-Chuko Grotto, Central Caucasus // Actual Archaeology-4. Multidisciplinary researche in archaeology. Theses of international scientific conference of young scholars (St. Petersburg, April 2-5, 2018). Saint-Petersburg: IIMK RAN, 2018. p. 61-63. RISC Published. 2. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B. Neanderthal occupation patterns and landscape use during the Middle Paleolithic in Central Caucasus. // Abstracts of the XVIIIe World UISPP Congress. 4-9 Juin 2018. Paris. Published at https://uispp2018.sciencesconf.org/180118/document 3. Doronicheva E., Shackley M.S., Kulkova M., Odinokova E. Procurement and exploitation of lithic raw materials in the Paleolithic of the Central Caucasus. // Abstracts of the XVIIIe World UISPP Congress. 4-9 Juin 2018. Paris. Published at https://uispp2018.sciencesconf.org/180146/document Conferences: 1. The Vth (XXIst) all–Russian archaeological congress (1-8.10.2017), Barnaul-Belokurikha. Oral report: Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Kulkova M.A. «Discovery of the first stratified Middle Palaeolithic site in the Central Caucasus» (Central Caucasus – a contact zone between Neanderthals of North-Eastern and North-Western Caucasus)». 2. International scientific conference "Man of the Stone Age, his material culture and environment" (The Vth Gerasimov Readings). Moscow (13-15.11.2017). Oral report: Doronicheva E.V. «Neanderthals and sapiens in the Caucasus: peculiarities of site organization». 3. International scientific conference of young scholars «Actual archaeology-4. Multidisciplinary research in archaeology". Saint-Petersburg (2-5.04.2018). Oral report: Doronicheva E.V. «Multidisciplinary research in Saradj-Chuko Grotto, Central Caucasus». 4. International scientific conference (XXX Krupnov readings) «Caucasus in the system of cultural relations of Eurasia in antiquity and the Middle Ages». Teberda (22-29.04.2018), Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Oral report: Doronicheva E.V. «Central Caucasus in the system of cultural relations in the Palaeolithic of Eurasia». 5. The VIIth International conference, devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Irkutsk University «Eurasia in Cenozoic. Stratigraphy. Paleoecology. Cultures». Listvianka-Irkutsk (14-17.05.2018). Poster: Doronicheva E.V., Nedomolkin A.G., Kulkova M.A., Odinokova E.V. «Creation of a reference collection of flint raw materials in the Central Caucasus». 6. The VIIIth «Anfimov readings» on archaeology of Western Caucasus. Anapa (29.05 – 01.06. 2018). Oral report: Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Shackley M.S. «Use of obsidian in the Palaeolithic of Caucasus». 7. The XVIIIth UISPP (International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences) World Congress. Paris, France (4-9.06.2018). Oral report: Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B. «Neanderthal occupation patterns and landscape use during the Middle Paleolithic in Central Caucasus». Oral report: Doronicheva E.V., Shackley M.S., Kulkova M., Odinokova E. «Procurement and exploitation of lithic raw materials in the Paleolithic of the Central Caucasus».

 

Publications

1. - Неандертальцы из Заюково «Это Кавказ» — информационно-познавательный мультимедийный портал агентства ТАСС о российском Кавказе., 25 сентября, 2017 Подробно на сайте Это Кавказ: https://etokavkaz.ru/istoriya/neandertaltcy-iz-zayukovo (year - ).

2. - Археологи из Санкт-Петербурга исследуют стоянку неандертальцев Вести Кабардино-Балкария, 23 августа 2017 в 20-45 с 11 минуты (year - ).

3. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б., Кулькова М.А., Одинокова Е.В., Шекли М.С. Nouvelles données sur l'utilisation des matières premières lithiques et la mobilité pendant le Paléolithique moyen du Caucase du Nord L'Anthropologie, - (year - 2018).

4. Дороничева Е.В.,Шекли С.М.,Кулькова М.А., Одинокова Е.В. Procurement and exploitation of lithic raw materials in the Paleolithic of the Central Caucasus Abstracts of the XVIIIe World UISPP Congress. 4-9 Juin 2018. Paris, - (year - 2018).

5. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б., Недомолкин А.Г., Спасовский Ю.Н., Кулькова М.А., Одинокова Е.В., Несмеянов С.А., Воейкова О.А., Мурый А.А., Трегуб Т.Ф., Волков М.А., Широбоков И.Г., Цельмович В.А., Корзинова А.С. Nouveau site du Paléolithique Moyen dans le Caucase Central (resultats preliminares des études complexes) L'Anthropologie, - (year - 2018).

6. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б. Neanderthal occupation patterns and landscape use during the Middle Paleolithic in Central Caucasus Abstracts of the XVIIIe World UISPP Congress. 4-9 Juin 2018. Paris, - (year - 2018).

7. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б., Недомолкин А.Г., Кулькова М.А., Шекли М.С., Мурый А.А., Несмеянов С.А., Воейкова О.А., Корзинова А.С. Грот Сарадж-Чуко – первый стратифицированный памятник среднего палеолита в Приэльбрусье (предварительные данные) Труды V (XXI) Всероссийского археологического съезда в Барнауле–Белокурихе: сборник научных статей/ отв. ред. А.П. Деревянко, А.А. Тишкин. – Барнаул : Изд-во Алт. ун-та, 2017. С. 30-34., Т. I. – с. 30-34. (year - 2017).

8. Дороничева Е.В. Комплексные исследования в гроте Сарадж-Чуко, Центральный Кавказ Актуальная Археология-4. Комплексные исследования в археологии. Тезисы международной научной конференции молодых ученых (г. Санкт-Петербург, 2-5 апреля 2018 г.). Санкт-Петербург: ИИМК РАН, 2018. С. 61-63., с. 61-63 (year - 2018).


Annotation of the results obtained in 2018
The research project "Human-nature interaction in the Central Caucasus: dynamics of environmental change and technological innovations, and subsistence strategies", supported by the Russian Scientific Foundation grant No. 17-78-20082, was initiated in 2017. The project is based on the study of stratified Palaeolithic sites in the Elbrus region, in the central part of the Northern Caucasus. In 2018-2019, the scientific crew of the project continued interdisciplinary research of Saradj-Chuko Grotto – the only known to date in the region multilayered Middle Palaeolithic site. Also, the crew undertook a test excavation in a new site – Psytuaje rockshelter – where an Epipalaeolithic layer was found. The area of Saradj-Chuko grotto is more than 300 sq. m. In 2018, archaeological excavation in the grotto was carried out on the area of 24 sq. m. The archaeological and fanal materials found in Saradj-Chuko grotto in 2018 include 4472 artifacts and 13720 bone fragments. To date, the most rich in artifacts (about 200 artifacts per sq. m.) is the Middle Palaeolithic layer 6B, in which an active habitation Neanderthal occupation is studied. The main concentration of artifacts in this layer is associated with two surface hearths that were excavated in areas located deeper in the cave. The 2018 lithic assemblage from layer 6B includes 4077 artifacts. The vast majority (98%) of artifacts are made of obsidian, including all cores, technical and primary flakes. The cores are dominated by unifacial single-platform cores. About 35% of flakes have cortex. Laminar flakes are numerous. Preliminary results of research indicate that knapping of obsidian was carried out by the direct percussion technique using soft stone hammers. The 2018 lithic assemblage from layer 6B includes 110 retouched tools. A large number of chips (N=1657) indicates that most of the tools were made inside the cave. About a half of the tools (58 pieces) are fragmented. Theg definable tools are dominated by simple side-scrapers and convergent tools (angular and convergent scrapers, and Mousterian points). Also, diagonal, transverse and double scrapers are abundant. The 2018 research shows that the technical-typological peculiarities of the assemblage from layer 6B allow to define the industry as the laminar Mousterian, which differs from the Eastern Micoquian industry widespread in the north-western Caucasus and is similar to the early Middle Palaeolithic assemblages from Weasel Cave located further east at the border with north-eastern Caucasus, Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Southern Caucasus (in Georgia) and Zagros Mousterian in the Lesser Caucasus (in Armenia and Azerbaijan) and in Zagros mountains (in Iran). The Neanderthals used Saradj-Chuko grotto as an active habitation site for consumption of ungulates, which they hunted, and production of tools from obsidian. The Saradj-Chuko industry is characterized by various methods of thinning of tools and especially the use of truncated-faceted method, which is associated with diagnostic types of tools in this industry: Mousterian points with thinned bases and scrapers with thinning, including scrapers with thinning from two or three platforms. In 2018, a use-wear (traceological) study of convergent tools from Saradj-Chuko grotto was conducted for the first time. This research allowed identifying traces indicating use of some of these tools made from obsidian as hunting weapon – spearheads, that are defined for the first time in the Middle Palaeolithic in the Caucasus. In addition, residues of organic resin were identified on some of these tools, indicating that the spearheads were mounted on shafts likely made of wood. In 2018, the study of the nearby Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source – the only source of obsidian known in the Northern Caucasus – was continued, as well as surveys of flint sources in the region were conducted. In the result, one new source of flint and one new outcrop of obsidian within the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source area were discovered. The flint samples from flint sources and the Saradj-Chuko site were analyzed in thin sections and petrographic descriptions of the samples were made. In addition, we applied a new method of scanning electron microscopy, which allowed to clarify some petrographic characteristics of flint samples from various sources, that help to distinguish them from each other. Also, additional 6 samples of obsidian from archaeological sites – Saradj-Chuko grotto and Psytuaje rockshelter – were analyzed using the XRF analysis. Results of the XRF analysis indicates that all obsidianartefacts are made exclusively of obsidian originating from the Zayukovo source, located 6–7 to the west from Saradj-Chuko Grotto. The studies of flint and obsidian artifacts from Saradj-Chuko grotto show that the Neanderthals used exclusively local rocks, mostly obsidian from the Zayukovo source (6–7 to the west from the site) and also flint originating from sources located about 5–7 km to the north-west (Hana-Haku-1 and Shtauchukua-1) and south-east (Kamenka) from the site. The main result of geological and geomorphological research is the first neotectonic zoning of the territory and the establishment of its connection with the formation of river valleys in the region. These studies indicate that the geomorphology of the valley of a small Fanduko river, in which the Saradj-Chuko grotto is located, can be refined by comparison with the geomorphology of the nearby and well-studied valley of the Baksan river. The Saradj-Chuko area is located in the zone of articulation of the Greater Caucasus and the Terek-Caspian trough. In the are, river terraces are tectonically deformed. Accordingly, the geomorphological position of Saradj-Chuko grotto requires detailed studies taking into account neotectonic zoning. The newest results of our research on neotectonics and geomorphology of this region indicate that the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source area is a downlifting zone, which we called the Zayukovo depression. This depression covers a wide (more than 10 km in maximum width) area limited with a system of local faults. The Zayukovo depression is limited by the Khara-Khora and Shitlyamyzh uplifting zones, forming northern and southern watersheds of the Baksan valley, respectively, a wide Nalchik flexura to east (downstream the Baksan River), and a narrow West-Zayukovo graben to the west (upstream the Baksan River). The highest watersheds in the region — the Khara-Khora mount area with a topographic mark of 1233.1 m asl, located on the left bank of the Baksan River, and the watershed between the Baksan and Fanduko rivers, with altitudes up to 1100–1300 m asl — are composed of the Upper Pliocene–Lower Pleistocene (end of the Pliocene–early Gelasian) volcanic rocks of the Lower Chegem formation, up to 250 m thick. These watershed areas are limited with a system of local faults. The Saradj-Chuko grotto is situated in a deep (up to 200 m), terraced and forested valley of the Fanduko (or Saradj-chuko) river (a small tributary of the Baksan river), 26 m above the river. The valley of Fanduko river cuts thru laparite lavas, ignimbrites, tuffs, and pebble alluviums of predominantly Pliocene age, which are replaced by Oligocene calcareous clays and marls downstream of the river. Preliminary results of geomorphological research suggest that formation of the Fanduko river valley most likely begun in the late Lower Pleistocene, between ca. 1.8—0.8 Ma. Saradj-Chuko grotto is formed in the massif of volcanic rocks that have silicic composition (ignimbrites), and this is the first cave site in ignimbrite discovered in the Caucasus. The volcanic rocks are represented mainly by tuffs, which lie in the form of lava flows and domeshaped structures. These dome-shaped structures represent extrusive domes (extrusions) of magmatic origin. The main part of sediments in Saradj-Chuko grotto is represented by two types of deposits having different origin and composition: 1) mainly clayish deposits of colluvial-eluvial origin and 2) colluvial (collapse) gravel material. Most of this clayish and gravel deposits were formed in the result of the desquamation destruction of the ceiling and walls of the grotto. Also, anthropogenic material played an important role in the formation of these sediments. It is also worthnoting the hydrogeological nature of a large crack (previously defined as layer 5), crossing the layers of normal cave stratigraphy (layers 2-6A), which was related to the movement of soluble material due to filtration of groundwaters. The accumulative floor of the grotto is composed of angular and slightly rounded fragments. These deposits are similar to weakly rounded alluvium. The structure and thickness of this alluvium, as well as the morphology of the bedrock floor of the grotto are not yet known. However, a high probability of the presence of large collapsed blocks inside the deposits in the buried state in the center of the grotto suggests both a significant thickness of the deposits and the presence of cultured layers older than those excavated in 2017-2018. The overall faunal assemblage from the 2018 excavations in Saradj-Chuko grotto includes 13,720 bone fragments, including numerous small bone fragments and rodent bones. Layer 6B produced the richest faunal remain. In 2018, a total of 1522 bone fragments, of which 312 were identified to species, were found in this layer. The ungulate species that are defined in layer 6B and each represented by several identifiable bones include the prevailing Caucasian goat (Сapra caucasica; 50%), followed by red deer (Cervus elaphus; 11,8%). Also, bison (Bison sp.), wild sheep (Ovis orientalis), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and rare horse (Equus caballus) and chamois were defined. Remains of predatory mammals are rare and include wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), and Mustelidae. Many definable bone fragments, in particular, representing definable remains of ungulates, show traces of thermal impact by fire. The evidence of fire impact and a significant fragmentation of bones indicate that the bone assemblage from layer 6B represents remains of animals that were hunted and consumed as food by the Neanderthals. In order to reconstruct changes of paleoclimate and vegetation cover, samples were selected for spore-pollen analysis. All spectra are characterized by absolute predominance of pollen of angiosperms. The tree angiosperms are dominated by pollen of hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), hazel (Corylus avellana), bear nut (Corylus colurna), which cover steep rocky slopes. The presence of small-leaved tree species – birch (Betila), alder (Alnus), aspen (Populus), and willow (Salix) – in combination with pollen of broad-leaved species – hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), elm (Ulmus), and linden (Tilia) – indicates the development of broad-leaved forests. Rare coniferous plants include pine (Pinus), spruce (Picea), fir (Abies), larch (Larix), and juniper (Juniperus). A comparison of pollen data from layer 6B in Saradj-Chuko grotto (940 masl) with other Middle Palaeolithic sites located in similar elevations and yielding a spectrum of deciduous forests in the Northern Caucasus, such as Matuzka cave (720 masl) in the north-western Caucasus (Golovanova et al., 2006) and Weasel Cave (1125 masl) in the eastern part of north-central Caucasus (Hidjrati et al., 2010), indicates that conditions of broad-leaved forests during the Middle Palaeolithic are typical only for layers corresponding to the interglacial MIS 5 in Matuzka and Weasel Cave. On the basis of these comparative data, we can tentatively define the age of layer 6B in Saradj-Chuko from the end of the interglacial optimum (MIS 5e) to the end of MIS 5 (MIS 5a), in the range approximately from 120 to 70 ka ago. The residual saturation magnetization was measured for samples collected in 2018. The SERM (Jrs) analysis of the samples allowed us to confirm boundaries among litho-stratigraphic layers identified in Saradj-Chuko grotto and refine conditions associated with these changes in lithology. The most significant breaks in sedimentation that wererevealed by this analysis correspond to boundaries between layers 5 and 6A, and between layers 6A and 6B. The data are confirmed by the results of x-ray phase analysis, which also indicates that during the accumulation of layers 6A to 2 there was a progressive cooling of the climate. Apparently, the conditions of high humidity inside the cave increasing in warming periods (especially in layer 6B) did not favour its long occupation by the Neanderthals. Archaeological surveys conducted in 2018 resulted in the discovery of a new site named Psytuaje rockshelter, which is located about 4 km upstream the Fanduko river from Saradj-Chuko grotto. In layer 2, there were found 31 artifacts from flint and obsidian. The results of XRF analysis show that all obsidian artifacts are made from obsidian originates from the Zayukovo (Baksan) source. The results of radiocarbon dating point to the final Epipalaeolithic age of layer 2. In the north-central Caucasus, only three Epipalaeolithic sites are known. They all are located in the Baksan River. Two of them, Sosruko and Alebastroviy Zavod rockshelters were excavated in the 1950s (Zamiatnin and Akritas, 1957), but have had no numerical dates until now. The recently discovered Badynoko rockshelter was excavated in only 2004, and produced lithic assemblages dated to the Epipalaeolithic and early Holocene (Zenin and Orlova, 2006; Seletsky et al., 2017). Among these localities, Sosruko and Badynoko rockshelters now represent the basic sites that produce knowledge about chronology and cultural development during the final of Pleistocene — early Holocene in the region. Located in a valley of a small Fanduko river, Psytuaje rockshelter has potential to produce new data about subsistence and culture of the Epipalaeolithic population in the region at the edge of Pleistocene and Holocene. Papers published during the second year of the project: Doronicheva E.V., L.V. Golovanova, V. B. Doronichev, A.G. Nedomolkin, A.S. Korzinova, V.A. Tselmovitch, M.A. Kulkova, E.V. Odinokova, I.G. Shirobokov, V.V. Ivanov, S.A. Nesmeyanov, O.A. Voeykova, A.A. Muriy, T.F. Tregub, M.A. Volkov, M.S. Shackley, Yu.N. Spasovskiy. The first laminar Mousterian obsidian industry in the north-central Caucasus, Russia (preliminary results of a multi-disciplinary research at Saradj-Chuko Grotto). Archaeological Research in Asia. 2019. Available on-line at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ara.2019.03.001 Scopus, WOS, Q1. Doronicheva, E.V., Golovanova, L.V., Doronichev, V.B., Shackley, S.M., Nedomolkin, A.G. 2019 New data about exploitation of the Zayukovo(Baksan) obsidian source in Northern Caucasus during the Paleolithic. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (23): 157-165. Scopus, WOS, Q1. Shackley, M.S., Doronicheva E.V., Doronichev V.B., Golovanova L.V., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Muriy A.A. 2018. The Zayukovo (Baksan) archaeological obsidian source, Greater Caucasus, Russia. IAOS Bulletin No. 60, pp. 11-23. Golovanova L.V., Doronichev, V.B., Doronicheva, E.V. New data on the Palaeolithic of the Elbrus region. // Russian Archaeology 2019. Vol. 2. pp. 7-17. (in Russian) VAC, RISC, Scopus. Papers accepted for publication during the second year of the project: Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Poplevko G.N., Spasovsky Yu.N. Obsidian spearheads in the Middle Palaeolithic of the Elbrus region. Preliminary data on hunting strategies // The Volga Archaeology. Accepted in print, there is a letter from the editorial office. (in Russian) VAC, RISC, Scopus. Papers submitted to journals, in review: Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Nedomolkin A.G., Shirobokov I.G., Shackley S.M., Petrov A., Maksimov F. Discovery of a new Epipaleolithic obsidian industry in Psytuaje Rockshelter, North-Central Caucasus, Russia // Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Scopus, WOS, Q1. Doronicheva E.V., Nesmeyanov S.A., Voeykova O.A., Doronichev V.B., Golovanova L.V., Shackley M.S., Nedomolkin A.G. New data on geology, tectonics and geomorphology of the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source, exploited in the Palaeolithic in the Northern Caucasus, Russia // Archaeometry. Scopus, WOS, Q1. Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Doronicheva E.V., Tregub T.F., Volkov M.A, Spasovskiy Yu.N., Petrov A.Yu., Maksimov F.E. Dynamics of environment and human occupation of the North-Central Caucasus at the edhe of the Pleistocene and Holocene. // Antiquity. Scopus, WOS, Q1. Doronicheva E.V., Shackley M.S., Kulkova M.A. Procurement and exploitation of lithic raw materials in the Middle Paleolithic of the North-Central Caucasus (preliminary results) // UISPP Journal. Doronicheva E.V., Golovanova L.V., Doronichev V.B., Tregub T.F., Volkov M.A., Korzinova A.S. Neanderthal occupation and landscape exploitation during the Middle Paleolithic in the Central Caucasus // Paleoanthropology.

 

Publications

1. - Российские ученые отследили социальные связи населения регионов Кавказа в палеолите газета.ru, 26.11.2018 (year - ).

2. - Обсидиан рассказал о социальной сети кавказцев палеолита Индикатор, 26.11.2018 (year - ).

3. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б.,Шекли М.С., Недомолкин А.Г. New data about exploitation of the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source in Northern Caucasus during the Paleolithic Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Вып. 23, 2019, с.157-165 (year - 2019).

4. - Ученые нашли на Кавказе подтверждение социальности неандертальцев Российская газета, 28.11.2018 (year - ).

5. Первая пластинчатая мустьерская обсидиановая индустрия на северо-центральном Кавказе (предварительные результаты междисциплинарных исследований в гроте Сарадж-Чуко) The first laminar Mousterian obsidian industry in the north-central Caucasus, Russia (preliminary results of a multi-disciplinary research at Saradj-Chuko Grotto) Archaeological Research in Asia, - (year - 2019).

6. Голованова Л.В., Дороничев В.Б., Дороничева Е.В. Новые данные по палеолиту Приэльбрусья Российская Археология, Российская археология, 2019, №2, с. 7-17. (year - 2019).

7. Дороничева Е.В., Голованова Л.В. , Дороничев В.Б., Поплевко Г.Н., Спасовский Ю.Н. Обсидиановые наконечники копий в среднем палеолите Приэльбрусья. Предварительные данные об охотничьих стратегиях Поволжская Археология, - (year - 2019).

8. Шекли М.С., Дороничева Е.В.,Дороничев В.Б., Голованова Л.В., Несмеянов С.А., Воейкова О.А., Мурый А.А. The Zayukovo (Baksan) archaeological obsidian source, Greater Caucasus, Russia International Association for Obsidian Studies Bulletin, IAOS Bulletin, 2018, No 60, p. 11-23. (year - 2018).

9. - Между кавказскими неандертальцами существовали социальные контакты Индикатор, 20.04.2019 (year - ).

10. - Находки в пещере Сарадж-Чуко рассказали о жизни кавказских неандертальцев Газета.ru, 19.04.2019 (year - ).