Russian archaeologists presented the first results of a study of the site of ancient people, previously discovered on the territory of modern Kabardino-Balkaria and called the Psytuazhe canopy. Scientists have found that the primitive hunters who lived there 11-12 thousand years ago traveled long distances, used new technologies for processing bone and stone, and also created tools from silicon and obsidian. Experts noted that the materials collected during the study of the monument significantly supplemented the scientific understanding of the development of the culture of the Epipaleolithic era in the Caucasus.
The archaeologists of the North Caucasian Paleolithic Expedition of the Laboratory of Prehistory presented the results of the study of the life of ancient people who lived at the hunting site of the Psytuazhe canopy. The study is reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
The Psytuazhe canopy was discovered by scientists in 2018, 70 km from Mount Elbrus in the gorge of the Fanduko River in Kabardino-Balkaria. The area of the grotto is over 100 sq. m. The site belongs to the border of two geological epochs - Pleistocene and Holocene (11-12 thousand years ago). During this period, designated in the history of human evolution by the Epipaleolithic, people of the modern type appeared who began to use new technologies in everyday life.
View of the Psytuazhe canopy from the Fanduko River © sciencedirect.com
“We found a new, undisturbed parking lot. There are very few monuments that allow us to study this new step in human evolution,”archaeologist Ekaterina Doronicheva, a member of the expedition and one of the authors of the study, told RT.
According to her, the study of the Epipaleolithic is very important for understanding human evolution, since it was at this time that people mastered new types of technologies: biconical (on both sides) drilling and other "advanced" methods of processing stone, bone and skin.
The Psytuazhe canopy is located in the interfluve of the large rivers Baksan and Chegem, in the valleys of which there are the only outcrops of igneous rock called obsidian in the North Caucasus and sources of high-quality colored silicon. With the help of "tools" made from these materials, ancient man hunted wild horses and Caucasian rounds in the mountains, and then was engaged in cutting trophies and making new tools in the parking lot.
“The chemical composition of obsidian is unique for every eruption. It was during this period that obsidian from the South Caucasus appears in the North Caucasus. So, following the traces of obsidian, we learn that people traveled long distances,”the archaeologist noted.
Before the discovery of Psytuazhe in the Elbrus region, only two monuments of this period were known - the Sosruko grotto and the Badynoko canopy. According to scientists, the materials collected during the study of the site significantly complement the picture of the development of the Epipaleolithic culture in the Caucasus and make it possible to trace the stages of settlement of the region in different periods.
In the footsteps of obsidian, scientists learn about the movement of ancient people © Photo by Ekaterina Doronicheva
As noted by Doronicheva, today active excavations in this region continue. Scientists will have to study the impact of the volcanic activity of Elbrus on ancient people and their adaptation to climate changes that took place at different times. Of particular interest to archaeologists are periods of cold snap, which led to the appearance of clothing, dwellings and other innovations in human culture.