Seasonal Patterns of Prey Acquisition and Inter-group Competition During the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of the Southern Caucasus

Daniel S. Adler, Guy Bar-Oz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Zooarchaeological and taphonomic analyses provide an essential backdrop to discussions of Late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic patterns of mobility, land-use, and hunting, and the degree and manner(s) of Neanderthal and modern human competition within the southern Caucasus. Recent research at Ortvale Klde has documented the hunting of prime-age adult Capra caucasica and the organization of hunting activities according to this species' migratory behaviors, which made them locally abundant on a seasonal basis. Our analyses suggest that Neanderthals and modern humans occupied the same ecological niche and were equally capable of learning and exploiting key biogeographic information pertaining to the feeding, mating, migratory, and flight behaviors of this species. In these respects there appear to have been few alterations in medium/large game hunting practices between the Late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic, with ungulate species abundance in the entire stratigraphic sequence of Ortvale Klde reflecting seasonal fluctuations in food supply rather than specialization, differences in diet breadth, hunting ability, or technology. Attention is paid to faunal data from neighboring sites to test whether patterns identified at Ortvale Klde are in any way representative of larger regional subsistence behaviors. We find that such patterns are only replicable at sites that have experienced similar zooarchaeological and taphonomic study. We conclude that Neanderthal and modern human populations occupied and exploited the same ecological niches, at least seasonally, and that the regional archaeological record documents a clear spatial and temporal disruption in Neanderthal settlement resulting from failed competition with expanding modern human groups. In terms of niche and resource preference, we suggest that Neanderthals and modern humans were sympatric to the point of exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
ISSN (Print)1877-9077

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Georgia State Museum: D. Lordkipanidze, A. Vekua, N. Tushabramishvili, and T. Meshveliani for their collabora- tion and assistance during our many years of research in the Republic of Georgia. We recognize the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Grants 6881 and 7059), the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation, American School of Prehistoric Research at Harvard University, the Rothschild Post-Doctoral Foundation, and the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University for their generous financial support. Finally, we wish to thank J.-J. Hublin and M. Richards for their invitation to present our research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Evolution, and for their exceptional hospitality.

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009.


  • Competitive exclusion
  • Diet breadth
  • Hunting
  • Taphonomy
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Paleontology


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