Pinhasi, R., Gasparian, B., Wilkinson, K., Bailey, R., Bar-Oz, G., Bruch, A., Chataigner, C., Hoffmann, D., Hovsepyan, R., Nahapetyan, S., Pike, A.W.G., Schreve, D. and Stephens, M.
Hovk 1 and the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Armenia
Journal of Human Evolution, 55, (5), . (doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.04.005).
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The territory of present day Armenia is a geographic contact zone between the Near East and the northern Caucasus. Armenian Middle and Upper Paleolithic records are both few and patchy as a result of the historical paucity of systematic archaeological research in the country. Consequently, it is currently difficult to correlate the Armenian Middle and Upper Paleolithic records with those from other neighboring regions. We present new archaeological and chronometric data (luminescence, U-Th, and 14C) from our ongoing research at Hovk 1 Cave in northeast Armenia. We discuss in particular two activity phases in Hovk 1 Cave for which we have outline chronometric data: (1) an early Middle Paleolithic occupational phase, dated by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to 104 ± 9.8 ka BPOSL; and (2) a Paleolithic occupational phase characterized by microlithic flakes dated by AMS 14C to 39,109 ± 1,324 calibrated years BPHulu. The two phases are separated by a hiatus in hominin occupation corresponding to MIS 4 and an episode in early MIS 3. These chronometric data, taken together with the preliminary paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Hovk 1 Cave and environment, suggest that these activity phases represent short-lived and seasonal use of the cave presumably by small groups of hunters during episodes of mild climate. Neither tool manufacture nor butchery appears to have taken place within the cave, and consequently, the archaeological record included, for the most part, finished tools and blanks. We address the chronology and techno-typological aspects of Hovk 1 lithics in relation to: (1) the Paleolithic records of Armenia, and (2) the broader interregional context of early Middle Paleolithic hominin occupation and the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition in the Caucasus
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