Hominin Occupation of the North-Central Caucasus During the Middle Paleolithic: New Results from Saradj-Chuko Grotto and the State of Research

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E.V. Doronicheva
L.V. Golovanova
V.B. Doronichev
T.F. Tregub
V.A. Tselmovitch
A.S. Korzinova
Yu. N. Spasovskiy
A.G. Nedomolkin
M.A. Volkov


The north-central Caucasus region—located between the highest Caucasian volcanic mountain peaks of Elbrus (5642 m asl) and Kazbek (5034 m asl) — is notable as the area producing the only obsidian source (called Baksan or Zayukovo) known in the Northern Caucasus.  Only two stratified sites, however, provide evidence of the Middle Paleolithic (MP) occupation in the region. These are the Weasel Cave (Myshtulagty Lagat) in the east (Kazbek region) and the Saradj-Chuko Grotto in the west (Elbrus region) of the north-central Caucasus. Both sites are located in the Terek River basin (the Caspian Sea marine basin). In this paper, we report results of the 2017-2019 multidisciplinary research in Saradj-Chuko Grotto, and summarize the latest information about the Neanderthal occupation of the north-central Caucasus in the broader MP cultural context.

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