Palaeolithic Populations in Armenia and Turkey: Expanding Archaeological Understanding (PLATEAU)

The proposed multi-disciplinary project investigates hominin behavior during the Middle Pleistocene in Turkey and Armenia in terms of regional hominin behavior patterns, population dynamics, and dispersals. Based on available fossil data, recent studies on Eurasian hominin dispersals hypothesize ‘source’ areas for populations, including the Balkans, the Levant, and Central Asia. Lying geographically between these areas, Anatolia and the southern Caucasus are two crucial regions for understanding hominin population dynamics and dispersals. However, due to biased research intensity the regions still represent knowledge gaps in the Palaeolithic database. The main objective of the proposed research is to generate new archaeological data for the Middle Palaeolithic in Turkey and Armenia. The research seeks to integrate regional archaeological data into theories on hominin population dynamics. Preliminary archaeological data from upland open-air sites in Turkey and Armenia suggest regionally distinct patterns in technology and land use, and may indicate complex population dynamics, involving geographically isolated populations and local extinctions. In the proposed research, regionally distinct patterns in technology and land use are viewed in terms of ‘culturally mediated’ structured metapopulations. Research methods include: analyzing artifact techno-typology in two comparative regions of Turkey and Armenia; experimental archaeology; mapping and excavating archaeological deposits; studying archaeological site formation using field and laboratory methods; chronometric dating and sampling of archaeological deposits using a variety of techniques. Data generated in this project will aid comparison with more intensely studied regions of Eurasia, will refine theories on hominin population dynamics, and expand knowledge of human evolution. The applicant will transfer knowledge to the ERA through teaching, collaborative laboratory and fieldwork, and outreach activities.