Taphonomy and zooarchaeology of the upper palaeolithic cave of Dzudzuana, Republic of Georgia

Guy Bar-Oz, A. Belfer-Cohen, T. Meshveliani, N. Djakeli, O. Bar-Yosef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the results of a detailed taphonomic and zooarchaeological study of the faunal remains from the Upper Palaeolithic layers of Dzudzuana Cave, Republic of Georgia. This study presents the first carefully analysed Upper Palaeolithic faunal assemblage from the southern Caucasus and thus serves as a significant point of reference for inter-regional studies of Upper Palaeolithic subsistence in Eurasia. A series of intra-site taphonomic comparisons are employed to reconstruct the depositional history of the bone assemblages within the different occupational phases at the site and to investigate subsistence, meat procurement and bone-processing strategies. Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica), aurochs (Bos primigenius) and steppe bison (Bison priscus) were the major prey species throughout the Upper Palaeolithic. Their frequencies do not change significantly over time, and nor does bone preservation vary by layer. The assemblage is characterised by significant density-mediated biases, caused by both human bone-processing behaviours and in situ post-burial bone attrition. Bone marrow extraction produced large numbers of unidentified bone fragments, many exhibiting green bone fractures. The density and size of bone assemblages and the extent of fragmentation indicate that Dzudzuana Cave was repeatedly occupied by Upper Palaeolithic foragers over many years. Skeletal part representation and butchery marks from all stages of carcass processing suggest that prey occasionally underwent field butchery. Intra-site taphonomic comparisons highlight uniform patterns of cultural and economic behaviours related to food procurement and processing strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-151
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Caucasus
  • Hunting
  • Republic of Georgia
  • Subsistence
  • Taphonomy
  • Upper Palaeolithic
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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