In our project several areas loom as being particularly important for understanding the biocultural shift that took place during the Late Pleistocene, as Neanderthals began to go regionally extinct and the first modern humans arrived. One of these areas is the Caucasus mountain range. The Greater Caucasus splits the northern and southen Caucasus Neanderthals from one another and, it has been suggested, largely on the basis of lithic evidence, forms a biogeographic barrier. We are interested in adding to the formidable amount of recent work that has been undertaken here, by attempting to further focus on the chronology of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in the Caucasus. To this end, over the past week, Marine and Tom have been in Georgia undertaking a sampling expedition at several of the key sites through our collaborators Data Lordkipanidze, Ron Pinhasi, Nika Tushabramashvili, Tengiz Mesheviliani, Nino Jakeli and Dan Adler.
We collected samples of worked and humanly-modified bone from several of the Georgian sites dating to the latest Middle Palaeolithic, as well as those contexts that are assessed as being early Upper Palaeolithic on the basis of their lithic and organic industries. We worked at the Georgian National Museum initially.
After 2 days there we went up to the Imereti region where most of the key sites are concentrated. Marine is of course responsible for the OSL/TL component of our research and we were able to obtain nice sequences of samples from the important site of Sakajia (see picture of Marine drilling holes to place dosimeters in the section), and the nearby site of Ortvale.
The third day in the field was spent looking at the sequence being excavated by Tengiz, Ron and colleagues at the site of Satsurblia.
Bear tooth found at the Ortvale site.
Landscape of the region, cut gorges and green woodlands. This is a monastery near Ortvale.