Preliminary results from the new excavations of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic levels at Ortvale Klde-north chamber (South Caucasus Georgia)

M. H. Moncel, D. Pleurdeau, N. Tushubramishvili, R. Yeshurun, T. Agapishvili, R. Pinhasi, T. F.G. Higham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ortvale Klde is a key cave site which provides detailed archaeological and chronological information about Middle and Upper Palaeolithic occupation in the southern Caucasus, and the timing of the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in this region. Excavations have mostly focused on the southern chamber, and an extensive dating programme suggests the demise of the Neanderthals, followed by a hiatus and the rapid occupation of the area by modern Humans at around 38-34ka BP. New excavations in the northern chamber by a French-Georgian team took place in 2006, in order to better understand the stratigraphy of this part of the cave, which contributes to the understanding of the Middle Palaeolithic in the southern Caucasus and its significance in a broader pan-regional context.This paper reports the results of the 2006 fieldwork carried out in the northern chamber: three Middle Palaeolithic units and one Upper Palaeolithic unit have been observed in several test pits inside the cave and on the slope in front of the cave. Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblages are composed of elongated points and various core technologies have been described, close to what is observed at Drjujula and Bronze caves. Apparent correlations between the stratigraphic sequences of the two chambers and associated lithic and bone assemblages are discussed. Several hypotheses on the type of human occupations in relation to the morphology of the two chambers of the cave are presented. The very different nature of the sequences in the northern and southern chambers possibly imply differences in both intensity and timing of human occupation of each chamber, as well as some differences in site formation processes. The main test pit at the base of the sequence yielded lithics that have some different traits when compared to those observed at the base of the sequence in the southern chamber. This could signify an older age for these base levels, but also very different occupation modes in the two chambers, as also indicated by the differential faunal preservation. However, in contrast to the lithic assemblages, the faunal assemblages of the base of the sequence in each of the two chambers do not show differences in subsistence strategies and hence suggest consistent subsistence behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project was financially supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs . We would like to thank the National Museum of Georgia, Tbilisi and the National Museum of Natural History for their support of this collaborative programme. Dates are funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) Research Frontiers Programme grant (Grant No. 08/RFP/EOB1478 ). Finally, we would like to thank the editor for his valuable suggestions and the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Preliminary results from the new excavations of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic levels at Ortvale Klde-north chamber (South Caucasus Georgia)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this