Upper Palaeolithic Settlement
and Mobility in the Armenian Highlands: Agent-Based
Modeling, Obsidian Sourcing, and Lithic Analysis
at Aghitu-3 Cave
Ellery Frahm, et al. [full author details at the end of the article]
#Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
Excavations at Aghitu-3 Cave in Armenia revealed stratified Upper Palaeolithic ar-
chaeological horizons (AHs), spanning from 39 to 36,000 cal BP (AH VII) to 29–
24,000 cal BP (AH III) and from which we identified the sources of 1120 obsidian
artifacts. Not only does AH III—deposited at the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum—
have the most artifacts from non-regional sources but also the artifacts originate from
the greatest variety of sources, including two ≥270 km on foot in different directions.
The amount of retouch and density of lithics—as expressed by whole assemblage
behavioral indicators (WABI)—suggest a trend from more expediency to more curation
between the deposition of AHs VII and IV. This was followed by a substantial shift
back to expediency during the deposition of AH III, corresponding to greater logistical
mobility. Here, we use agent-based modeling (ABM) to interpret these data. Greater
interactions between foraging groups are not an unavoidable outcome of a shift from
residential to logistical mobility. Some variables (i.e., lithic stock, use intensity, provi-
sioning strategy) can be ruled out, while other variables (i.e., decreased source abun-
dance, a shift to direct procurement) appear inconsistent with the archaeological data.
Territory spacing, in contrast, has a clear and predictable effect. A small decrease in
territory spacing can yield notable increases in inter-group contact opportunities and
can be explained by an increase in population densities as the climate cooled. Follow-
ing this scenario, we assume that, as AH III accumulated, the cave’soccupantsnotonly
moved farther distances but also more frequently encountered neighboring groups.
Keywords Computer simulation .NetLogo .Hunter-gatherers .Agent-based modeling
(ABM) .Whole assemblage behavioral indicators (WABI)
Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/s41982-019-
00025-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.