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Investigation of Mesolithic and Upper Paleolithic multilayer sites in the North-West Caucasus

T D V S, .  - M A M  43
Elena V. Leonova
Institute of archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Dm. Ulyanova 19, Moscow 117036, Russia
Figure 1. e map showing the location of Chygai Rockshelter and Dvoinaya
Chygai RoCkshelteR
e stone age of the Caucasus has been studied for over 100
years. Dozens of sites containing the Upper Paleolithic and
Mesolithic layers have been investigated, however most of the
previously studies cannot be used to solve problems of chro-
nology, development and change of stone industries against
the background of environmental changes at the turn of the
Pleistocene and Holocene for a number of objective and sub-
jective reasons. ese reasons include bad preservation sourc-
es, thick excavation units, and the perception of the entire
thickness of cultural sediments as a single complex. All of this
has led to a false impression of the lithic assemblages, the se-
quence of change in cultures and changes of the environment.
A number of works devoted to the revision of previously re-
ceived material were published in the late 1980s − early 1990s.
e need to obtain new sources of data was put forward (Lyu-
bin 1989; Amirkhanov 1994).
e Chygai Rockshelter and Dvoinaya Cave were discovered
by E.V. Belyaeva in 2006-07 in Gubs (Borisovskoe) Gorge
(Belyaeva et al. 2009). Gubs Gorge is located in the foothills
of the Northern slopes of the Western Caucasus (Skalisty
[Rocky] ridge) (Mostovskoy district of Krasnodar region)
(Fig. 1). Several Middle and Upper Paleolithic sites have been
discovered and excavated (1955-1989) in this gorge (caves:
Monasheskaya, Barakaevskaya, Kasojskaya, Ruslanova, rock-
shelters: Gubsky 1, 7) (Autlev and Luibin 1994).
e Chygai Rockshelter and the Dvoinaya Cave have been ex-
cavated since 2007 by the Gubs expedition of the Institute of
Archeology of the Russian Academy of science (RAS). Both
sites are multilayered. Currently the stratication is subdivid-
ed into several units: the Chalcolithic, Mesolithic and Upper
Paleolithic layers in the Chygai Rockshelter and two Meso-
lithic and one Upper Paleolithic layers in the Dvoinaya Cave.
Previously the most ancient Upper Paleolithic layers in the
Chygai Rockshelter can be dated 16 ky BP and the Chalco-
lithic layer can be dated 6 ky BP. e complete stratigraphic
sequences of both sites are still unknown.
e Chygai Rockshelter (Gubskiy 5) is situated on the le
bank of the Gubs River. e rockshelter is located at an eleva-
tion 44m above the level of the river (801 m above sea level). It
is small area facing to the south, 9 m in length along the rock
and 4-5 m in width, cut into the steep forested slopes. Since
2007, 20 square meters have been excavated to a maximum
depth of 3 m.
e current stratigraphic sequence consists of 14 lithological
horizons. All of them contain archeological materials. e
thickness of the layers, described top to bottom, is shown:
1. Beige-gray sandy loam with rock debris – 25-37 cm
2. Gray sandy loam with rock debris – 0-22 cm
3. Yellowish sandy loam with rock debris – 12-30 cm;
4. Yellow-red sandy loam with small charcoal lenses – 0-18 cm.
5. Tawny loam with rock debris and shells of mollusks Helix
spp. – 0-20 cm;
6. Brownish loam with rock debris – 0-15 cm;
7. Tawny loam with a large quantity of rock debris – 7-23 cm;
8. Brown loam with rock debris – 7-25 cm
9. Tawny loam, more heavy than that overlying, with rock de-
bris – 3-35 cm;
10. Yellowish-white clay loam with platy rock debris (horizon
of desquamation) – 14-25 cm.
11. Brown (hazel) loam with rock debris – 0-23 cm;
12. Whitish clay with rock debris – 2-15 cm;
13. Brown-gray loam with rock debris – 0-29 cm.
14. Gray-brawn loam with rock debris visible thickness to 34 cm.
T D V S, .  - M A M 44
Figure 2. Examples of bone and stone artifacts of dierent cultural layers: 1 - Chygai Rockshelter, Upper Paleolithic (Layers 10-14); 2 - Dvoinaya Cave, Upper Pa-
leolithic (Layer 7); 3 - Dvoinaya Cave, Early Mesolithic (Layer 6); 4 - Dvoinaya Cave, Late Mesolithic (Layers 4-5); 5 - Chygai Rockshelter, Chalcolithic (Layer 2).
E. V. L
e top of a large piece of limestone was found at the depth of
about 1m from the modern surface in the area of the excava-
tion. e block, 1.8  2.45 m, and of height up to 1.3 m, par-
tially divides and overlaps the Upper Paleolithic layer, and the
subsequent top of the Upper Paleolithic layer and Mesolithic
layers are joined to it.
e surface of the rock fragment is smooth, traces of anthro-
pogenic impact were not found. e long north side of the
blocks facing the rockshelter are almost vertical. e south
side is sloping. e western and eastern sides of the blocks
are almost vertical. e level of the soles of the rock fragment
coincides with the lower boundary of the thick layer of the
e formation of this horizon could be associated with either
a sudden (quick) temperature drop, or with seismic activity.
e latter is most likely, because according to a pollen analy-
sis the spectrum derived from Sample Layers 13 and 11 are
nearly identical and it can be considered as a united pollen
complex, and the number of spores and pollen in the sample
from Layer 12 (whitish clay with rock debris) is not enough
for the manipulation of statistical data (Tab. 1) 1.
e assemblage from the Chalcolithic (2) (Fig. 2: 5) and Me-
solithic (3-8) layers is found in small number and is not very
is not very representative. Layer 5 contains coal and annealed
soil lenses and concentrations of the shells of mollusk Helix
spp. e assemblage from Layer 5 is very poor: only 56 stone
artifacts (32 akes, 2 blades, 16 bladelets and 4 microblade-
lets, 1 narrow faced single-platform core, 1 burin).
e most signicant assemblage of stone artifacts was ob-
tained from the Upper Paleolithic layer (Layers 10-14). e
archeological material recovered from this unit of layers con-
sists of about 3,000 lithic artifacts (not counting microdeb-
itage from otation), a few bone tools, and fragments of bone,
including numerous microfaunal remains. e bones of large
1 e faunal remains were dened by E.N. Mashchenko, A.S. Tesakov,
N.V. Serdyuk, N.D.Burova, N.V. Volklva, A.A. Zelenkov, V.B. Sukhanov, I.V.
Danilov, A.A. Shileyko, P.D. Frolov; pollen analyses by E.A. Spiridonova
T D V S, .  - M A M  45
% arboreal
% herbaceous
% spores
Pollen analysis
Pollen zone
% herbaceous
% spores
Pollen analysis
1 - - -
- -
Capra aut Ovis, Cervidae
2 - - -
- -
Arvicola terrestris, Arvicola cf., Spalax cf.
microphtalmus, Capra aut Ovis
- -
Capra aut Ovis, Spalax sp., Spalax cf.
microphtalmus, Helix albencens Rossmassler,
Pomatias rivulare (1), Monacha sp.juv. (1)
4 20 70 10
Corylus (30,4%), Carpinus (19,6 %), Betula, Fagus; Polygonum
distortae (Bryales) (48%), Polypodiaceae (24%); Equesetum (12%),
Lycopodium (8%), Sphagnum (8%).
VI S¹³C -8 º/00
LE – 8,313 (IGSB – 1358)
5 2 95 3 Betula, Alnus (7,6-25%), Pinus, Abies, Сhenopodiaceae,
Brassicaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Apiaceae, Artemisia
Kі – 13,465 (bone)
6 4 93 3 Spalax cf. microphtalmus Cricetus cricetus,
Microtus sp., Spermophilus sp., Chionomys
nivalis, Lacertilia, Helix spp.
S¹³C -7,9 º/00
10,545 ± 120
LE – 8,314 (IGSB – 1,356)
7 4 93 3 S¹³C -9,4 º/00
11,060 ± 190
LE – 8,314 (IGSB – 1,357)
8 4 92 4 Betula, Pinus, Artemisia (33,1%), Chenopodiaceae (17,4%),
Cichoriaceae, Asteraceae, Malva, Ranunculaceae, Liliaceae,
Polygonaceae, Bryales, Polypodiaceae.
9 ? 9 87 4 Betula (26%), Pinus (13%), Corylus (13%).
Poaceae (39,3%), Asteraceae, Cichoriaceae, Fabaceae,
Caryophyllaceae, Polygonaceae.
III Sus scrofa, Emys sp. (1), Helix (1)
Upper Palaeolithic
14 86 - Pinus (40%), Corylus (40%), Alnus 20%, Poaceae (30,3%),
Chenopodiaceae (24,2%), Artemisia (21,2%) Cichoriaceae (18,2%).
Capra aut Ovis, Arvicola terrestris, Cricetus
cricetus, Cricetulus migratorius, Microtus sp.,
Microtus ex gr. Arvalis, Ochotona sp., Spalax cf.
microphtalmus, Spermophilus sp.
11 21 74 5 Alnus (31%), Corylus, Quercus, Fagus, Pinus s/g Diploxylon
(~10%). Betula (~10%), Tilia; Chenopodiaceae, Artemisia,
Poaceae (22%), Fabaceae, Brassicaceae, Cichoriaceae, Asteraceae,
Linum, Malvaceae, Bryales, Polypodiaceae.
- - -
13 21 75 4 Corylus (31%), Alnus (17%), Quercus, Fagus, Pinus s/g Diploxylon
(~10%), Betula (~10%); Chenopodiaceae, Artemisia, Poaceae
(22%), Fabaceae, Brassicaceae, Cichoriaceae, Asteraceae, Linum,
Malvaceae, Bryales, Polypodiaceae.
I Bovidae, Arvicola terrestris, Arvicolinae gen.,
Chionomys nivalis, Cricetus cricetus, Cricetulus
migratorius, Microtus sp., Microtus ex gr.
Arvalis, Spalax sp., Spermophilus sp., Mustela
nivalis, Ochotona sp., Soricidae (cf. Neomys),
Spermophilus sp.
14 Currently unknown
Table 1. Summary of stratigraphic divisions and evidence at Chygai Rockshelter.
I  M  U P M S   N-W C
ungulate mammals are fragmentary, most could not be de-
e largest part of the lithic assemblages consists of gray-
brown and colorful int artifacts. Gray-brown int comes
from Gubs Gorge (as a concretion in the limestone rocks or in
the river bed) and colorful int (white, yellow) can be found
within 30km. ere are few small obsidian artifacts in the as-
semblage. e nearest known source of obsidian is Baksan’s
Gorge (central part of Northern Caucasus − straight-line dis-
tance about 250 km).
Most of the cores are prismatic single-platform. Knapping
aimed to produce bladelets and microbladelets. In most cases
a steep and abrupt retouch was used to create stone tools.
End-scrapers are dominant, the group of burins (mainly dihe-
dral or retouch truncation) is much less so. e assemblages
include backed bladelets, truncated and bitruncated backed
bladelets, side-scrapers and such specic forms as humped
back points and backed bladelets with backed pieces with mi-
cro-endscrapers. As well as stone tools, a fragment of a bone
tip and a needle with a cut eye were found (Fig. 2: 1).
e neighboring site of the Dvoinaya Cave is situated 30m to
the east of the Chygai rockshelter, at an elevation of 46 me-
ters above the water level of the Gubs River (803 m above sea
level), facing to the south-south-east. e modern surface in
the cave has a distinct inclination to the south. e oor sur-
face is covered with silt, a dark-brown sandy loam, vegetation
is absent. e maximum height of the arch from the modern
surface is 4 m 30 cm, the height of the entrance arch is 3m.
e cave is roundish in shape, and extends 15 m north-south
and 12 m west-east. Since 2007, some 21 square meters have
been excavated to a maximum depth of 2.8 m.
e stratigraphic sequence of the cave currently consists of 7
unit layers (the layers are described top to bottom, showing
their thickness):
1. e upper unit consists of bedding included several mod-
ern and medieval deposits, of a thickness up to 1 m;
2. in layer of brown loam – 1-3 cm;
3 (DI). Horizon of much large rock debris and roof spall
blocks, thickness of up to 90 cm. Some knapping ints, animal
bones and shells of Helix spp. were found in the lower part of
the layer;
4-5. Brown loam with rock debris, a large number of shells of
mollusk Helix spp., animal bones and thin charcoal and ashes
lenses. (e rst cultural layer – late Mesolithic) – 25-85 cm;
DII. Local horizon of small rock debris and decomposed
limestone – 5-20 cm;
6. Brown loam with thin charcoal lenses, a large number of
broken bones and shells of mollusk Helix spp. − 5-30 cm;
T D V S, .  - M A M 46
layers /
Data of pollen analysis
1 Corylus, Betula, Pinus. Carpinus,
2 Betula, Pinus, Abies, Picea, Corylus,
Alnus, Quercus, Acer, Castanea,
Sorbus, Poaceae, Malvaceae,
Polygonaceae, Compositae,
Pteridium, Botryhium, Bryales
Fibres of Pinus
3 (D I) Coccothraustes сoccothraustes
Helix spp.
Quercus, Sorbus, Castanea, Pinus,
Betula, Poaceae, Fabaceae,
Polygonaceae, Artemisia, Urtica.
Cervidae, Bos-Bison, Ovis-Capra (+), Sus scrofa (+), Canis sp., Lepus sp. (+),
Miotys sp., Perdix perdix, Lanius excubitor, Helix spp. (+)
Betula, Pinus, Poaceae, Chenopodiaceae,
Artemisia, Fibres of Pinus
Cervidae (+), Cervus sp., Cervus cf. elaphus, Bos-Bison, Ovis-Capra
Equus sp., Sus scrofa (+),Vulpes sp., Lepus sp. (+), Perdix perdix, Saxicolinae,
Muridae gen., Spalax microphtalmus, Emys sp. (1), Reptili a indet., Helix spp. (+)
Early Mesolithic
Cervidae (+), Alces alces, Cervus sp. (+), Cervus elaphus,
Ovis-Capra, Equus caballus, Sus scrofa, Canis lupus, Vulpes sp., Ursus cf. arctos,
Lepus sp., Perdix perdix (+), Hirundinidae gen. indet., Arvicolidae indet.,
Cricetus cricetus, Crocidura sp., Microtus sp., Muridae gen., Spalax
microphtalmus, Spermophilus pygmaeus, Talpa sp., Lacerta sp., Ophidia gen.,
Helix spp. (+)
GIN 14,704 (bone)
10,020± 160
GIN 14,706 (soil
with charcoal)
GIN 14,703 (bone)
with charcoal)
Betula, Corylus, Quercus, Pinus, Alnus;
Poaceae, Compositae, Chenopodiaceae,
Fibres of Pinus
Cervus elaphus, Ovis-Capra, Equus caballus, Sus scrofa, Canis lupus, Ursus cf.
arctos, Lepus sp., Apodemus sp., Cricetulus migratorius, Microtus arvalis, Spalax
microphtalmus, Lacerta sp., Reptilia indet., Spermophilus pygmaeus, Helix (1),
Theodoxus fluviatilis
Table 2. Summary of stratigraphic divisions and evidence at Dvoinaya Cave.
E. V. L
DIII. Horizon of desquamation – small rock debris and decom-
posed limestone 1-20 cm;
7. Dark brown loam with interbedded thin darker or lighter
layers and local charcoal and ashes lenses, visible thickness to
34 cm.
Layers, containing archeological material of the stone age, were
deposited under the horizon collapse (Layer 3). e raw mate-
rial is mainly represented by local gray-brawn int but some
colorful int is also used. In addition there are a few retouch-
ers and broken tiles of gray-green slatestone and a single object
from obsidian in all cultural layers.
e archeological material recovered from the rst Mesolithic
layer (4-5 layers) consists of just over 1,500 lithic artifacts (not
counting microdebitage from otation), a few bone tools as
well as fragments of bones, including microfaunal remains and
a great number shells of the mollusk Helix spp. A huge concen-
tration of more than ve thousand shells, was xed near the
exit of the cave.
e lithic assemblages consist of single-platform cores, includ-
ing several at and conical cores for microbladelets, knapping
by pressure. End-scrapers are absolutely dominant in the group
of tools, ve times as many as there are burins, all of them on
the break of a blank. e collection includes notched tools,
scaled pieces, a fragment of an axe. Distinctive features of the
assemblages are a series of points from microbladelets with
oblique truncation the end; a series of symmetric high trapezes
with slightly concave sides and a notched apex (the so-called
“horned” trapezes), high trapezes with slightly concave sides
and with a narrowed convex retouched apex, several segments,
and a stone pendant. Bone tools include an intermediate tool
from antler, several pendants of animal teeth and four frag-
ments of bone slotted points, two of which have diagnostic im-
pact fractures (Fig. 2: 4).
e second cultural layer (Lithological Layer 6) contains the
Early Mesolithic materials.
e assemblage consists of about 3,000 stone artefacts, includ-
ing a signicant amount of the products of int knapping. e
endscraper category outnumbers the burin category which
mostly comprises the retouched forms. e collection includes
retouched blades and bladelets, denticulated and notched tools,
scaled pieces, various points, and one side-scraper. e group
of geometric microliths includes symmetric trapezes with di-
rect or slightly concave edges and the trapezes with a narrowed
retouched apex. Distinctive features of the assemblages are a
series of more than 50 segments. One microburin blow was
found. Bone tools were found in small numbers: a few frag-
ments of points and 2 pendants of animal teeth (Fig. 2: 3).
e archeological materials in Layer 7 probably are synchro-
nous or a bit younger than the Upper Paleolithic materials
from the Chygai Rockshelter. e assemblage consists of about
2,000 artifacts: prismatic single platform and bipolar cores, di-
hedral or retouched truncated burins, end-scrapers, a variety
of points, including Gravette points and points with a lateral
notch made by abrupt retouch in the proximal part, backed bl-
adelets, backed pieces with micro-endscrapers, rectangles and
scalene triangles. In addition to stone tools there are fragments
of bone needles and tips and beads, made from the shells of
river molluscs eodoxus uviatilis (Fig. 2: 2).
T D V S, .  - M A M  47
Amirkhanov, H. A. 1986: Verkhnij paleolit Prikuban’ja [e Upper Palaeolithic
of the Kuban-river basin]. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian).
Amirkhanov, H. A. 1987: Chokhskoe poselenie [Settlement Chokh]. Nauka,
Moscow (in Russian).
Amirkhanov, H. A. 1994: To a problem of evolution and periodization of the
Upper Paleolithic of Western Caucasus. Rossiiskaya Arheologiya 4: 9-24
(in Russian).
Antipushina, Zh. A., Leonova, E. V. and Tiunov, A. V. (in press): Stable Car-
bon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis of Land Snail Shell Organic Matrix
from Mesolithic Layers of Cave Dvoinaia in the North-Western Cauca-
sus. KSIA (in Russian).
Autlev, P. U. and Liubin, V. P. 1994: Istoria issledovania paleolita Gubskogo
basseina [e History of investigation of Palaeolithic of Gubs-river basin].
In: Liubin, V. P. (ed.) Neandertal’tcy Gubskogo Ushelya. [Neanderthal
men in Gubs gorge]. Maikop, Meoty: 12-22 (in Russian).
Bader, N. O. and Tsereteli, L. D. 1989: e Mezolithic of the Caucasus. In:
Koltsov L. V. (ed.) Mezolithic of SSSR. Archeologie of SSSR. Nauka, Mos-
cow, Institute of Archaeology: 93-105 (in Russian).
Belyaeva, E. V., Aleksandrovskiy, A. L. and Leonova E. V. 2009: New inves-
tigations of Gubs-river basin (Kuban Caucasus). In: Lopatin, N. V. (ed.)
Arkheologicheskie Otkrytija 2006 [Archaeological Discoveries 2006]
Moscow, Institute of Archaeology: 347-348 (in Russian).
I  M  U P M S   N-W C
e materials of the Chygai Rockshelter and Dvoinaya Cave al-
lows us to retrace the history of the occupations of the small
region from the terminal period of the Upper Paleolithic to the
Mesolithic, over approximately 8 ky. No sharp change in tech-
nological traditions of int knapping can be seen in this period,
but it is not the smooth development of a single industry. In the
assemblages of the Upper Paleolithic layer of Chygai Rockshel-
ter there are no forms of geometric microliths, characteristic of
the Mesolithic layers (segments, trapezes), and, conversely, the
specic form (humped back points, backed pieces with micro-
endscrapers) inherent to the Upper Paleolithic industry, is ab-
sent in the Mesolithic materials.
Based on the stratigraphic, paleontological, radiocarbon and
pollen analyses data, a general scheme of the development of
cultures in the terminal Pleistocene − Early Holocene in the
North Caucasus can be sketched (Leonova et al. 2013; Table 1,2;
Fig. 2).
According to the pollen analysis, the main landscapes were
formed of dry steppes but there were more humid conditions
along river valleys during the existence of the Upper Paleolithic
layer of the Chygai rockshelter. Composition of the association
of small mammals allows reconstruction of the open steppe
spaces, and the presence of snow voles indicates open rocky
landscapes. e dominant species of the steppe and forest-
steppe zone indicates more dry and cool climatic conditions.
e complex of small mammals can be related to one of the dry
and cool phases of the late Pleistocene.
e fauna from both sites are presented as forest and steppe
species. Such a mosaic structure is related to vertical zonation
in the mountainous and foothill areas (Table 1, 2).
Analysis of the stable carbon (13C/12C) isotope composition
of land snail shell organic matrices suggests that Layers 3-6
of Dvoinaya Cave were accumulated in drier conditions then
present. (Antipushina et al. in press). According to radiocarbon
data the layers contained sub-fossil shells that were accumu-
lated between 11.8 and 8.3 ky BP.
An analogy with the assemblages of stone tools from the Up-
per Paleolithic layer of the Chygai Rockshelter can be found in
the materials of the rst Upper Paleolithic layer of the Gubsky
1 Rockshelter (Amirkhanov 1986, pp. 46-51). Unfortunately,
this collection is very poor, there are only 33 stone tools, but
the main technical-typological characteristics of stone artifacts
fully coincide: prismatic single platform cores, knapping aimed
at obtaining bladelets and microbladelets, steep and abrupt
retouch used for the shaping of tools, forming an irregular
microlith edge; and the presence of humped back points. e
absence of backed pieces with micro-endscrapers, rectangles,
side-scrapers in the lithic assemblage of the Gubsky 1 Rock-
shelter, as well as small number of burins can be explained by
the scarcity of artifacts in the collection and the specicity of
the excavated square.
e Upper Paleolithic assemblages of Dvoinaya Cave have
many analogies in other sites in the north-west and south Cau-
casus: Mezmaiskaya Cave (Layers 1-3), Kasojskaya Cave, and
Gvardjilas Klde (Golovanova et al. 2012; Liubin 1989).
Very similar assemblages to the early Mesolithic from the
Dvoinaya Cave (Layer 6) were found in the Sosruko Rock-
shelter in the central Caucasus (the Elbrus region) (Bader and
Tsereteli 1989). Another rockshelter, Badynoko, is situated in
the same region. Its assemblages share many similar features
with the late Mesolithic materials of Dvoinaya Cave, such as
the concentration of the shells of the mollusk Helix spp, points
with oblique truncation, and bone slotted points (Zenin and
Orlova 2006).
“Horned” trapezes were found at Mesolithic sites in the north-
western Caucasus (Kamennomostskaya Cave), and the north-
eastern Caucasus (Chokh site), and this form is quite common
in the early Neolithic sites of Central Asia (Amirkhanov 1987;
Formozov 1965; Vinogradov 1981). ere are some obsidian
artifacts that are likely to originate from Zaiukovo (Baksan
Gorge) in all the assemblages. is may be the evidence of wide
territory exploitation within 250 km or some contacts with the
population of the Central Caucasus.
e common direction of the development (or change) of Me-
solithic industries from earlier (without trapezes and with a
large number of segments) to later, where geometric micro-
liths dominate the trapezes, coincides with the direction of
development (or change) of Mesolithic industries of Crimean
mountains (Bibikov et al. 1994).
is project is supported by RFBR research grant  12-06-
00202- “Reconstruction of environment and cultural ad-
aptation of the ancient man at the foothills of the northwest
Caucasus in the late Pleistocene/early Holocene”; and by the
Program of the Presidium of RAS “Traditions and innova-
tion. Financial support for the excavations over the four years
was provided by RFH.
T D V S, .  - M A M 48
Bibikov, S. N., Stanko, V. N. and Koen, V. Yu. 1994: Finalny Paleolit i Mesolit
Gornogo Kryma [Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of Mountains Crimea].
Odessa, Vest (in Russian).
Formozov, A. A. 1965: Kamenniy vek i eneolit Prikubania [Stone Age and
Chalcolithic of the Kuban-river basin]. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian).
Golovanova, L. V., Doronichev, V. B., Cleghorn, N. E., Koulkova, M. A.,
Sapelko, T. V., Shackley, M. S. and Spasovskiy, Yu. N. 2012: e Epipa-
leolithic of the Caucasus aer the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary
International (in press), doi:10. 1016/j. quaint. 2012. 04. 034.
Leonova, E. V., Alexandrova, O. I., Antipushina, Zh. A., Serdyuk, N. V., Spiri-
donova, E. A. and Tesakov, A. S. 2013: Multidisciplinary research of mul-
tilayer sites of Stone age in the Gubs’s gorge In: Matishov, G. G. (ed.)
Fundamenral Problems of Quaternary, Results and Main Trends of Future
Studies. VIII All-Russian Conference on Quaternary Research Collec-
tion of papers. Rostov-on-Don, 10–15 June 2013. Rostov-on-Don. SSC
RAS Publishers (in Russian).
Liubin, V. P. 1989: Palaeolithic of the Caucasus. In: Boriskovski, P. I. (ed.)
Paleolit Kavkaza i Severnoj Azii [e Palaeolithic of the Caucasus and
Northen Asia]. Nauka, Leningrad: 9-142 (in Russian).
Vinogradov, A. V. 1981: Drevnie okhotniki i pybolovy Sredneasiatskogo mezh-
durechja [Ancient hunters and shermen Central Asian interuve]. Nau-
ka, Moscow (in Russian).
Zenin, V. N. and Orlova, L. A. 2006: Stone Age of the Baksan Gorge (Chrono-
logical aspect). In: e XXIVth Krupnov’s Readings on Archaeology of the
Northern Caucasus. Nalchik: 85-86 (in Russian).
E. V. L

Supplementary resource (1)

... 23);photos 7, 9, 13, 17, 19 -after (Leonova and Aleksandrova 2012: fig. 2;Leonova 2014: fig. 2; Leonova et al. 2017). ...
... In layer 7 in Dvoinaya Cave, there are two fragments of a needle-like point or a very large needle. Also, a bone needle with a broken eye was found in layers 8-14 in Gubs 5 (Chygai) rockshelter (Leonova 2014(Leonova , 2015. ...
... The last two originate from the Zayukovo (Baksan) obsidian source (~250 km; . One flake is found in the Gubs 7 rockshelter, hor. 4. Also, a few small artifacts from obsidian were found in Chygai and very rare obsidian artifacts were found in Dvoinaya Cave (Leonova 2014(Leonova , 2015. Sources of these obsidian artifacts are not identified yet. ...
Full-text available{B5D6CC4F-DFFA-4E04-998C-196581499225}
... 12-10.5/9 ka cal BP) in Dvoinaya cave (Leonova, 2014), and one bone tool fragment with incised groove was recovered in layer 1-3 at Mezmaiskaya cave . ...
... Finally, currently some scholars continue to define the early Holocene assemblages in the Northern Caucasus to the Mesolithic (Leonova, 2014(Leonova, , 2015, following old schemes (e.g., Bader and Tsereteli, 1989) that emerged before robust radiocarbon dates became available for many archaeological sites, and before the definition of the Epipalaeolithic stage of the Upper Palaeolithic development in the Caucasus (see . The evidence reported in this study, indicating a continuous development of the EPP culture of the Northern Caucasus during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and on in the early Holocene, suggests the assignment of the region early Holocene assemblages to the final stage of the EPP. ...
Located in the north-central Caucasus, about 70 km from the highest European mountain peak of Elbrus (5640 m asl) and 7 km from the only obsidian source (Zayukovo or Baksan) known in the Northern Caucasus, Psytuaje rockshelter is the first stratified late Epipaleolithic site dated from the beginning of the Holocene that was intensively investigated in this region. The multidisciplinary research that we carried out at Psytuaje rockshelter provides new important data on subsistence strategies and culture of the Epipaleolithic hunter-gatherer groups during the terminal Pleistocene. The new evidence from Psytuaje rockshelter reviewed in the region context suggests that the late Epipaleolithic culture and hunter-gatherer subsistence developed continuously during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition and up to the early Holocene in the north-central Caucasus. The late Epipaleolithic population of this region shows succesful adaptations to changing environmental conditions across the transition that included changes in subsistence strategies, such as the exploitation of a wider variety of natural resources, and a number of technological innovations that ensured the improvement of hunting weapon.
... The technological and behavioral changes include: 1. The development of microblade technology towards higher production of blades in some LUP sites (Mezmaiskaya, Satsurblia, Aghitu-3) or the production of bladelets/microbladelets from carinated cores in other sites (Dzudzuana C and Gubs rockshelter 1); 2. A higher variability of stone points during the LUP, with the addition of Font-Yves and Sakajia points at some sites; 3. The appearance of geometric microliths (rectangles at Satsurblia; Pinhasi et al. 2014) at the end of the LUP Pleurdeau et al. 2016), particularly in the NWC (Doronicheva et al. 2012(Doronicheva et al. , 2013Doronicheva and Kulkova 2011;2014;Doronicheva and Shackley 2014). These studies show that the MP Neanderthals were dependent upon local raw material sources. ...
Full-text available
Recent studies of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic in the northwestern Caucasus are focused on the research of relations between natural (climate and environment) and social (behavior and adaptations) factors that governed settlement dynamics of Neanderthal and anatomically modern human populations in the region. The majority of Middle Paleolithic sites in the region show temporal changes within a local variant of the Eastern Micoquian industry between approximately 90 and 40 thousand years (ka) ago. The final stage of the Eastern Micoquian occupation in the northwestern Caucasus is notable in that the number of Neanderthal sites increases, and these sites show a higher variety and spread towards the eastern boundary of the region. The research provides new data indicating that ecology and subsistence of late Neanderthals were affected by a large, catastrophic volcanogenic event, which likely caused the Neanderthal extinction, and that was followed by a subsequent reoccupation of the region by Upper Paleolithic modern humans. In addition, recent genetic analyses indicate that a population turnover is likely to have occurred, either in the Caucasus or throughout Europe, towards the end of Neanderthal history. In the northwestern Caucasus, Upper Paleolithic sites are found mostly in caves or rockshelters, and show two major periods of modern human occupation: (1) Upper Paleolithic, from ~39/38 ka to the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum; and, (2) Epipaleolithic, from the Last Glacial Maximum to ~11/10 ka. The Upper Paleolithic sites are rare, while the Epipaleolithic sites are quite numerous in the region. After the Last Glacial Maximum, milder conditions of the Late Glacial promoted an increase in the number of sites and mobility of the Epipaleo-lithic human groups. A high mobility is confirmed by the facts that similar Epipaleolithic industries are found in the Southern and Northern Caucasus and that the same obsidian sources were exploited in both regions. Results of recent studies indicate that the most crucial factors for hominin settlement during the entire Upper Pleistocene in the northwestern Caucasus were favorable climatic and environmental conditions. In comparison to other regions, including the Levant, the Caucasus' archaeological record shows distinct regional peculiarities and a specific pathway of Upper Paleolithic development, which we identify as the "Caucasus Upper Paleolithic". In support of this view, the results of two recent palaeogenomic analyses of two human individuals from the Southern Caucasus indicate that the first modern humans in the Caucasus shared ancestry with Upper Paleolithic humans of Western Asia, and that the first Upper Paleolithic modern humans in the Caucasus belonged to a distinct ancient clade, which split from the European Upper Paleolithic populations about 45 ka ago, shortly after the expansion of modern humans into Europe.
... LUP sites in the Caucasus region are relatively well studied, but only several of them are radiocarbon dated (Aleksandrovskiy et al., 2017;Bader, 1984;Nioradze and Otte, 2000;Skinner et al., 2005;Golovanova et al., 2006aGolovanova et al., , 2014Golovanova et al., 2006aGolovanova et al., , 2010Bar-Yosef et al., 2011;Kandel et al., 2011;Golovanova et al., 2014;Leonova, 2009bLeonova, , 2014Panichkina, 1948;Pinhasi et al., 2014;Pleurdeau et al., 2016;Doronichev, 2020, Zamiatnin, 1957). The post LGM settlement is concentrated in three regions. ...
The paper presents the newly established radiocarbon dates of the Late Upper Palaeolithic (LUP) settlement in Gvardjilas Klde in the Imereti region in Georgia. The analysed samples were collected by Stefan Krukowski in 1916 during his fieldwork in the cave. Krukowski identified two separate UP cultural horizons. The older one was connected with what he called layer 10, and the younger one - with layer 11. The obtained radiocarbon dates confirm the results obtained by Krukowski. The older settlement phase can be dated to 19.7–18.8 ky cal. BP, while the younger one to 15.8–14.7 ky cal. BP. The end of human occupation can be linked to the beginning of the Holocene. Interestingly, the presented probability density models show that Gvardjilas Klde was occupied interchangeably with other sites in the region. There is no other site in the Imereti region with chronology similar to any of the settlement phases in Gvardjilas Klde. The only chronologically corresponding sites are Mezmaiskaya Cave and Badynoko Rockshelter in the Northern Caucasus.
Full-text available
The site of Aknashen has been the subject of archaeological and geological analysis for many years (Badalyan et al. 2010; Karakhanyan et al. in this volume). One of the main questions concerning the site environment is that of the origin of the processes responsible for the development of a vast lake area covering much of the plain of the Araxes river between Aratashen and the gorge of the Reshteh-Ye-Dagn massif (Karakhanyan et al. in this volume). Another question concerns the reconstruction of the evolution of this lake system during the Neolithic occupation of the site. To complement the ongoing studies, the approach developed here is related more directly to the links between tectonics, climate changes and the possible impact of fluctuations during the Holocene of the relative level of the Caspian Sea, the natural outlet of the Kura-Araxes hydrosystem. In the case of this wide alluvial plain with a connected fluvial network flowing to the Caspian, these three main geomorphic and environmental parameters must be carefully incorporated into an integrated study.
Recent excavations in Dvoinaya cave have led to the discovery of three cultural layers dating from the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. The typological and traceological analyses of stone tools enabled the authors to identify functions of numerous points and geometric microliths, which appear to have been used as hunting projectiles (arrowheads and insets). Each cultural layer is thought to represent a distinct cultural tradition. The earliest (Late Upper Palaeolithic) layer is characterized by composite arrowheads with lateral insets and pointed tips. The Early Mesolithic assemblage is dominated by oblique point arrowheads in the form of segments. In the Late Mesolithic the former two types still continue to exist, but are supplemented with transverse arrowheads in the form of trapezes.
Full-text available
This paper presents the data of technical and technological analyses of organic and inorganic residues collected from the surfaces of lithic artifacts recovered from the Early Mesolithic layer in the Dvoinaya Cave (Northwestern Caucasus). The micro-chemical and IR analyses have revealed plant and animal residues, as well as mineral components. Organic residues noted on the tool edges are well correlated with the data of the use-wear analysis that was carried out previously. Copyright © 2014, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
This paper presents a review of the Epipaleolithic (EPP) sites postdating the Last Glacial Maximum in the northern and southern Caucasus. Although securely excavated EPP sites are as yet rare in the Caucasus, those that provide homogeneous artifact assemblages contain tool types characteristic of EPP industries in Europe and in the Near East. Tool types characteristic of the Caucasian Epipaleolithic are discussed, as well as development during more than 10,000 years. A climatostratigraphic scheme of the Caucasian Epipaleolithic is proposed on the basis of paleoenvironmental data and radiocarbon dates. A review of the available data and a critical approach to treating Epipaleolithic variability in the Caucasus recognizes that only several EPP occurrences in the southern and northern Caucasus might represent a specific Epipaleolithic industry that existed from ca 17/16 to ca 13/12 ka BP (cal) in the region. The old term “Imeretian Culture” may be applied only to this industry type. Contacts between the inhabitants of these EPP occupations are shown by new data concerning the EPP obsidian transport networks from sources located in the southwest Caucasus and in the central part of the northern Caucasus to EPP sites in the northwestern Caucasus. High mobility of human groups in the Epipaleolithic was one of the most significant factors providing affinity of the EPP industries across the Caucasus.
Stone Age of the Baksan Gorge (Chronological aspect)
  • V N Zenin
  • L A Orlova
Zenin, V. N. and Orlova, L. A. 2006: Stone Age of the Baksan Gorge (Chronological aspect). In: The XXIVth Krupnov's Readings on Archaeology of the Northern Caucasus. Nalchik: 85-86 (in Russian).
Finalny Paleolit i Mesolit Gornogo Kryma [Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of Mountains Crimea
  • S N Bibikov
  • V N Stanko
  • V Koen
  • Yu
Bibikov, S. N., Stanko, V. N. and Koen, V. Yu. 1994: Finalny Paleolit i Mesolit Gornogo Kryma [Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of Mountains Crimea]. Odessa, Vest (in Russian).
Drevnie okhotniki i pybolovy Sredneasiatskogo mezhdurechja [Ancient hunters and fishermen Central Asian interfluve
  • A V Vinogradov
Vinogradov, A. V. 1981: Drevnie okhotniki i pybolovy Sredneasiatskogo mezhdurechja [Ancient hunters and fishermen Central Asian interfluve]. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian).
Kamenniy vek i eneolit Prikubania
  • A A Formozov
Formozov, A. A. 1965: Kamenniy vek i eneolit Prikubania [Stone Age and Chalcolithic of the Kuban-river basin].
Istoria issledovania paleolita Gubskogo basseina [The History of investigation of Palaeolithic of Gubs-river basin
  • P U Autlev
  • V P Liubin
Autlev, P. U. and Liubin, V. P. 1994: Istoria issledovania paleolita Gubskogo basseina [The History of investigation of Palaeolithic of Gubs-river basin].
Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis of Land Snail Shell Organic Matrix from Mesolithic Layers of Cave Dvoinaia in the North-Western Caucasus
  • Zh A Antipushina
  • E V Leonova
  • A V Tiunov
Antipushina, Zh. A., Leonova, E. V. and Tiunov, A. V. (in press): Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis of Land Snail Shell Organic Matrix from Mesolithic Layers of Cave Dvoinaia in the North-Western Caucasus. KSIA (in Russian).