Seasonal Patterns of Prey Acquisition and Inter-group Competition During the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of the Southern Caucasus

  • Daniel S. Adler
  • Guy Bar-Oz
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)

Zooarchaeological and taphonomic analyses provide an essential backdrop to discussions of Late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic patterns of mobility, land-use, and hunting, and the degree and manner(s) of Neanderthal and modern human competition within the southern Caucasus. Recent research at Ortvale Klde has documented the hunting of prime-age adult Capra caucasica and the organization of hunting activities according to this species' migratory behaviors, which made them locally abundant on a seasonal basis. Our analyses suggest that Neanderthals and modern humans occupied the same ecological niche and were equally capable of learning and exploiting key biogeographic information pertaining to the feeding, mating, migratory, and flight behaviors of this species. In these respects there appear to have been few alterations in medium/large game hunting practices between the Late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic, with ungulate species abundance in the entire stratigraphic sequence of Ortvale Klde reflecting seasonal fluctuations in food supply rather than specialization, differences in diet breadth, hunting ability, or technology. Attention is paid to faunal data from neighboring sites to test whether patterns identified at Ortvale Klde are in any way representative of larger regional subsistence behaviors. We find that such patterns are only replicable at sites that have experienced similar zooarchaeological and taphonomic study. We conclude that Neanderthal and modern human populations occupied and exploited the same ecological niches, at least seasonally, and that the regional archaeological record documents a clear spatial and temporal disruption in Neanderthal settlement resulting from failed competition with expanding modern human groups. In terms of niche and resource preference, we suggest that Neanderthals and modern humans were sympatric to the point of exclusion.


Zooarchaeology taphonomy hunting diet breadth competitive exclusion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel S. Adler
    • 1
  • Guy Bar-Oz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ConnecticutUSA
  2. 2.Zinman Institute of Archaeology Mount CarmelUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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