Dating the Demise: Neandertal Extinction and the Establishment of Modern Humans in the Southern Caucasus
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Adler, Daniel S.
Rink, W. J.
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CitationAdler, Daniel S., Ofer Bar-Yosef, Anna Belfer-Cohen, Nicholas Tushabramishvili, E. Boaretto, N. Mercier, H. Valladas, and W.J. Rink. 2008. Dating the demise: Neandertal extinction and the establishment of modern humans in the southern Caucasus. Journal of Human Evolution 55(5): 817-833.
AbstractThis paper considers the recent radiometric dating (14C-AMS, TL, ESR) of 76 late Middle and early Upper Paleolithic samples from Ortvale Klde Rockshelter, located in the Republic of Georgia. We present a critical evaluation of each date based on its stratigraphic and archaeological context, its pretreatment and contamination history, and its resulting accuracy and precision, the goal being to establish a sound chronology for the site. Only by systematically identifying aberrant dates within a data set and isolating them from further analysis can we hope to understand cultural and biological phenomena on an accurate temporal scale. Based on the strict discard protocol outlined here, we omit 25% of the dated samples from the analysis. The remaining data speak to the lengthy tenure of Neandertals in the region, but also to their relatively rapid demise and the establishment of modern human populations w38–34 ka 14C BP (42–39 ka cal BPHulu). We compare these chronometric data with those from the neighboring sites of Bronze and Dzudzuana caves, as well as Mezmaiskaya Cave, located in the northern Caucasus. While the lack of key contextual information limit our ability to subject these other data sets to the same critical evaluation procedure, they provide the first interregional temporal assessment of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic ‘‘transition,’’ the results of which suggest an initial expansion of modern humans into the
southern Caucasus followed by expansion along the Black Sea coast and into the northern Caucasus.
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