The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the results of many years of archaeological work in the Chagyr cave in the Altai Territory. The Neanderthals, who lived here 59-49 thousand years ago, turned out to be much closer to their Eastern European counterparts than to the Denisovan man who lived in Altai 110 thousand years ago.
Archaeologists led by Ksenia Kolobova from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Richard Roberts from the Australian University of Wollongong completed a major stage of work in the Chagyr Cave, located in the foothills of Altai, where a Neanderthal site was discovered in 2008.
During this time, about 90 thousand artifacts and 74 fragments of the bones of Neanderthals were found, with an age of 59 to 49 thousand years.
Finds of animal bones and reconstruction of the environment based on fragments of ancient fauna and flora led to the conclusion that the Chagyr Neanderthals hunted bison and were adapted to the cold and dry climate.
The authors analyzed more than 3,000 stone tools from the Chagyrskaya cave and found that these tools are very similar to the tools of the Mykok culture of the Middle Paleolithic era, common in Eastern and Central Europe.
Similar tools were previously found in the Okladnikov (Sibiryachikhinskaya) cave, located east of the Chagyrskaya cave. It is the easternmost known Neanderthal habitat in Asia. Samples from Okladnikov Cave are radiocarbon age from 37.8 to 24.2 thousand years.
But in the Denisov cave, located not far from Chagyrskaya, no artifacts of the Mykok culture were found. The DNA of the Chagyr Neanderthal also indicates a closer connection with the East European Neanderthals (Northern Croatia and the North Caucasus) than with the Denisovian man who lived in Altai 110 thousand years ago.
Hence, the authors conclude that there were at least two waves of settlement of southern Siberia by ancient man. Neanderthals from the Chagyrskaya cave are associated with a second wave that came from Europe about 60 thousand years ago. Scientists suggest that ancient people moved in the wake of the bison they hunted.
Also, during the second wave, mikok technology came to the Chagyr cave from Eastern Europe - in the Chagyr cave, the Neanderthals used almost identical European forms of tools and methods of stone processing.
Where the people who lived in Denisov's cave came from is not yet fully known, but it is already clear that the Chagyr Neanderthals are not their descendants.