GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 111-12
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM


BRITTINGHAM, Alex, Department of Anthropology, Univeristy of Connecticut, Unit 1176, 354 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269, HREN, Michael T., Center for Integrative Geosciences & Dept. of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, 354 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269, KANDEL, Andrew W., Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, “The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans” at the University of Tübingen, Rümelinstr. 23, D-72070, Tübingen, Germany, FRAHM, Ellery, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Humphrey Center #395, 301 19th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55455, GASPARYAN, Boris, Institute for Archaeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Yerevan, 0025, Armenia and HARTMAN, Gideon, Anthropology Department, Univeristy of Connecticut, Unit 1176, 354 Mansfield Road, Storrs, CT 06269,

During the Late Pleistocene, modern humans expanded out of Africa and inhabited Eurasia for the first time. To better understand the context of this process in the Armenian Highlands and determine how climate affected the behavior of these early modern humans, we collected sediments from the Upper Paleolithic archaeological cave site Aghitu-3. This is the first stratified Upper Paleolithic cave in Armenia, which includes two main occupational phases. Sediments within the cave are well dated, and span from 40 ka cal BP to 24 ka cal BP. We analyzed hydrogen isotope (δD) values of higher plant-derived biomarkers (n-alkanes) to assess changes in local hydrology associated with human occupation at the site. δD values from n-alkanes at Aghitu-3 are more positive during the early occupation phase, indicating a general warming trend beginning around 36 ka cal BP and reaching a peak around 31 ka cal BP. Following this, there is a general negative trend in δD values during the late occupation phase from 31 ka cal BP to 24 ka cal BP, leading up to the Last Glacial Maximum. Stone tool technology remains relatively unchanged over time; however, occupation density is much higher during the colder phase of occupation. Sourced obsidian indicates that during the warmer occupation phase, lithic raw material was exclusively regional, limited to Syunik sources a maximum of 40 km away from the site. During the colder phase of occupation more exotic sources are present at Aghitu-3, including obsidian coming from up to 300 km away in northwest Armenia and eastern Turkey, showing either an increase in group mobility or exchange of artifacts.