Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Palaeolithic Populations in Armenia and Turkey: Expanding Archaeological Understanding

Article Category

Article available in the following languages:

Hominin evolution shows surprising findings

New information on Palaeolithic toolmaking in Armenia and Turkey is set to revolutionise current theories on early human dispersal and evolution.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

The demographics of our Pleistocene ancestors or hominins can reveal much about human evolution. The region of Eurasia comprising Turkey and Armenia could offer valuable information about our origins, but requires in-depth study of fossils and related excavations. Against this backdrop, the EU-funded PLATEAU (Palaeolithic Populations in Armenia and Turkey: Expanding Archaeological Understanding) project took up the challenge. The project conducted necessary excavations, examined artefacts and improved current archaeological databases, including a comparative analysis of findings from the two nations. More specifically, the team undertook excavations in Northeast Turkey and Western Armenia of Pleistocene areas with hominin presence. It compared findings with existing records of other areas and looked at regional differences in making stone tools. Onsite research near Turkey’s Kura River catchment revealed Pleistocene-age deposits with possible Palaeolithic artefacts, while excavations at the site of Barozh 12 in Armenia yielded numerous obsidian artefacts providing valuable data on hominin civilisation and land use. The research revealed that the Barozh 12 area was indeed attractive for hunter-gatherers, while tool manufacture displayed similarities with other regions in the world including Georgia, Iran and the Levant. In addition, as some obsidian tools came from areas 180 km away, the project team deduced that hominins were quite mobile and had sophisticated strategies in obtaining materials for their tools. Comparisons with other sites in Armenia revealed regional patterns of artefact manufacture, technology and technological organisation. In parallel, comparisons between the Turkish and Armenian sites showed significant differences in obsidian tool making that were not related to differences in raw material. Through these and other observations, the project team hypothesised that many isolated hominin populations may have existed simultaneously. This puts in question models of hominin dispersal and calls for further research related to the topic. These telling results were disseminated to the international academic community through conferences, events and publications. The project team also organised an international workshop in Turkey that gathered scholars and students related to the field, bringing together American, Armenian, European and Turkish colleagues. The project’s outcomes are set to update current knowledge of human evolution significantly.


Palaeolithic, Pleistocene, hominins, excavations, stone tools

Discover other articles in the same domain of application