07 December 2008

Middle Pleistocene Environment at Yarimburgaz Cave

Berkay Dinçer
The data came from the archaeological excavations of the Cave of Yarimburgaz (near the city of Istanbul, northwestern Turkey), dated roughly 400 kyrs, obtained a well preserved statigraphy for a very long time in the middle of the Middle Pleistocene.

The excavations of the cave have yielded 1600 culturally Lower Paleolithic artifacts. There are no bifacials and levallois technique used flakes. The industry is generally characterized by small flakes with retouch. There are some chopper and chopping tools, but not so many. The tolls seems very primitive but they are very functional. No human remains found, but possible Homo erectus occupied the cave.

The faunal assemblage in the cave is mainly of bears that used the cave for hibernation. There are two co-extant bear species: Ursus deningeri (cave bear) and Ursus arctos (brown bear). Bear bones shows that all of the bears in the cave died from nonviolent reasons. The bones of the bears and other animals show no sign of human activity. This shows that the occupation of cave by human groups and other animals occurred in different times. Before the excavations of the cave, the distribution of the Middle Pleistocene cave bear (Ursus deningeri) did not contain eastern Balkans and Thrace. Yarimburgaz excavations showed that the cave bear existed in this region in the Middle Pleistocene.

Herbivores like Equus caballus, Equus hemionus (?), Capreolus aff. sussenbornensis, Dama sp., Cervus elaphus, Megalocero ssp., cf. Bos primigenius, Bison cf. priscus, Sus scrofa, Capra aff. aegagrus, Capra cf. ibex, Gazella sp. and pachyderm existed in the cave deposits. Herbivores are not very much in number. But it is interesting that they show a very high variation. Probable, those bones was carried to the cave by nonursid carnivores like Pantera (leo and possible pardus), Felis (caracal and sylvestris), Crocuta crocuta, Canis lupus, Vulpes spp., and Canis aureus (?). The investigation of small mamalian fauna from the cave showed that the cave sediments can be dated to a cold era in the Middle Pleistocene.

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